Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, yesterday, insisted that the allocation of the 13 per cent derivation fund to the governors of oil-producing states was fuelling under-development, bitterness and rancour in host communities and Niger Delta in general.
Enang stated this in Abuja, when members of the Host Communities of Nigeria, HOSCON, producing oil and gas, visited his office to present a paper, stating their position on the 13 per cent derivation fund and other issues bordering on the development of oil-bearing communities.
He said: “It will be inappropriate for the state governors to take the 13 per cent derivation money and apply it only for either building new governor’s lodge, buying private aircraft, increasing the number of vehicles in their convoys or doing any other things, which are sometimes obscene, making the oil-producing communities angry and forcing them to disrupt crude oil and gas production.”
He noted that even the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, had considered, examined and concluded that the 13 per cent derivation fund was exclusively for the host communities and that there were a misapplication and misdirection of the fund.
Enang stated that concrete steps needed to be taken at the federal level to redeem the oil-bearing communities from the squalor that they are faced with, noting that over the years, governors of the Niger Delta had treated derivation funds the way they treated local government allocation.
He said: “What ought to be done now is that the money is not given to the respective states. The governors should take the same allocation as other states of the federation, which is the statutory allocation, taxes and Value Added Tax, VAT; but the derivation should go for the development of the oil-producing communities, through special purpose vehicles to be created.
“Since we have seen the way and manner the governors had utilised the 13 per cent derivation fund, I think it is time we go back and obey the provisions of the constitution and cause that these monies be used for the development of oil and gas producing communities directly for their development so that this affliction would be arrested.”
Also speaking, Chairman of HOSCON, Dr Mike Emuh, lamented that oil and gas bearing communities had been consistently denied their rights in the area of the 13 per cent derivation fund, stating that paying the money to the states was against the law.
He appealed to Ita Enang to help escalate the demands of HOSCON in the area of the derivation fund to President Muhammadu Buhari, as well as in the area of ensuring the setting up of a trust fund for the management of the gas flare penalty money and the award of pipeline surveillance and protection contracts to host communities.
He bemoaned the fact that over the last 15 years, about N20 trillion had been allocated to oil and gas producing states without any form of accountability from the governors and concrete development in the Niger Delta.