IS THE NORTH FEEDING FAT ON THE RESOURCES OF THE NIGER DELTA?

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By Annkio Briggs

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Annkio

On the 15th of Dec 2016 my attention was drawn to Professor Ogunleye’s ‘Who Says The North is Feeding Fat on Nigeria?’ I was intrigued and looked forward to reading the piece especially as it is a contribution of not only a professor but one who has identified my piece of “the Injustice of Revenue Allocation.” I was excited because since the 29th of May 2015 all l have had to endure, put up with and sometimes respond to has been lies, threats, and time wasters on facebook, twitter, whatsapp, responses, from members and jobbers of a political party. People trying hard to discredit the facts and figures l contributed to national and Niger Delta discuss.

Unfortunately l was rather disappointed as like the others, Prof Ogunleye’s piece failed to discuss the truth of the facts that l raised, and rather tries to justify the very issues that the Niger Delta people of which l am one have raised against the federal government from the days of Isaac Adaka Boro and Ken Saro Wiwa. The Ogoni’s platform is the Movement of The Survival of the Ogoni People, the Ijaws the Ijaw Youth Movement, Movement for the Survival of Biafra People, the Asari lead movement, the Tompolo lead movement, and many others that gave birth to Movement of Emancipation of the Niger Delta, and the Annkio Briggs’ lead Non Violent Movement, Niger Delta Self Determination Movement, NDSDM and so many other credible movements that have emerged from the Niger Delta.

I have humbly just added my voice and commitment to my people’s call for equity, justice and freedom barely 19 years ago. I have tried to stay on the same path as my people, and leaders before me and l remain unapologetic. It is indeed a responsibility l owe not only to my Niger Delta region but to all other ethnic nationalities of Nigeria, especially the Niger Delta people, environment and region to refuse this injustice of accepting as a favor 13% of what is our God given resources of oil and gas, while 27 states which do not contribute oil and gas to the federal government pot get to take home more than the states that contribute over 95% of what is in the federal government pot.

For the sake of records l am a Niger Delta Rights agitator for equity, justice and freedom, not South South activist. It is unfortunate and a gross misinformation to impress on the long suffering people of the Niger Delta that all the sacrifices we have made since after the civil war, as we have watched everything on our land taken away by force of guns and force of pen through the 1999 constitution that we did not contribute to, just as we did not contribute to the amalgamation of the North and South into Nigeria by Lord Lugard.

It is worrisome to hear from Professor Ogunleye a Data Analyst who chairs the Nigeria’s Big Data Analytics and Innovation Conference that was hosted last week by the National Defense College Abuja, that a people who contribute over 95% of their God given wealth to the coffers of Nigeria should pretend that there is no justifiable correlations between what is taken away from the 9 oil and gas producing states and what they are disrespectfully given back as a favor, and what 27 states who produce no oil and gas get. The following is critical for my next dialogue, as by this and other statements the professor has indeed raised the bar of our demand for justice and equity.

‘The fact that the national Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data, on its own is sometimes incomplete, and almost impossible to do a robust analytics on- analytics that should provide insights on or help us to establish empirically patterns of relationship between the states’s contribution to the Nigeria federation coffers and the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee) FAAC allocations. To use the NBS data on its own, therefore, it is important to understand the methodological approach of the particular set of statistics before commenting on them. Without such understanding, we really cannot not say our comments are informed or even evidence-based.’ Professor Ogunleye.

The Niger Delta people are highly qualified and quite able to source for and read statistics, l am using the statistics as provided by the relevant and authorized government bodies. The Niger Delta people nor Annkio Briggs will be bamboozled with Prof Ogunleye’s inane statistics. He cannot have it both ways, first he does not want to rely on data from NBS referring to it as incomplete yet he goes ahead to use data from NBS, throughout his argument.

Was it a ‘thank you” that was operating in the 1960s, during cocoa, and groundnut, and until all became lazy and drunk on oil and gas as the only source of income except the owners of course the Niger Delta people.

I suppose the flawed census figures justify the claim that Kano is the largest state in Nigeria therefore justifies Kano state’s 44 LGAs to receive 44 shares of what Bayelsa state is bringing to the coffers of federal government 23.42% of oil and gas revenue, and getting only 8 LGA shares. The same justifications apply that Rivers state with 23 LGAs is getting only 23 shares of LGA allocations while bringing 29.58% to the federal government coffers.

The question Niger Delta people today are asking is this what is Kano state contributing to the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) from oil and gas or any other resources natural or otherwise? And based on the contributions what does the Kano State take home in State and LGA shares? What does Bayelsa or Rivers States contribute to the FAAC from oil and gas and how much do they take home.

When truth is turned into lies, it becomes very worrisome, if we can’t rely on the intellectual community to give us the facts we need to guide us as we demand for justice and equity it is the beginning of the end. Truth will outlive lies and confusion.

The next discussion Prof Ogunlese will have he should remember that we the Niger Delta people have not forgotten when the west kept 50% of what it produced. Our present day demand is based on our internationally recognized rights to ownership and control of our resources and to pay taxes to federal government. We are not unaware that this is possible with a new constitution, therefore we recommend that the Federal Government pick up the 2014 National Conference and all other relevant documents and l have no doubt that within the pages of the documents we will find that which will take us forward.

It is necessary we go down the path of law and the constitution, so when either Prof. Ogunleye or any other Prof or expert takes up the Niger Delta discuss we will have some critical and powerful points to reason through.

First question is does the federal take from the Niger Delta or does the Niger Delta take from the federal government? WHO IS FEEDING WHO? In section 162 (2), the flawed 1999 constitution provides the constitutional mechanism for sharing of the federation account established in section 162(1). Section 162(2) thereof has set out the things the National Assembly has to consider before enacting a revenue allocation formula for sharing of the federation account, ie Landmass, population, continuity of states, terrain etc.

The 13% given to us the owners by virtue of the provision to section 162(2) the balance of 87% is shared based on the landmass, population, continuity of states, etc, all of these provisions were written into the constitution by the north for the north, that is the landmass, population density and continuity of states, and a fortiori attracts more allocation to the north from the 87%.

The north has 2 extra states, and 419 LGAs while the south has 17 states and 355 LGAs by this claim to these flawed figures the north gets more of the 87%. From June 30th 1999 to date the Niger Delta has relinquished large percentage of the balance of 87% to the north 17 YEARS, if l dare to fish out the figures Prof Ogunleye is likely to argue that the NBS data is unreliable.

Ultimately the Niger Delta region does feed all the regions in Nigeria, especially the north, the major and direct beneficiary of the provision of Section 162(2) REGARDING THE SHARING FORMULA OF THE FEDERATION ACCOUNT.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

*The Petroleum Equalization Fund was enacted to subsidize and bridge the gap in the sales of petroleum products from the south to north. (but we are in one country)

*The subsidy and abridgement are funded by the revenues from the sale of Niger Delta crude oil and gas.

* The repealed petroleum Trust Fund was used to develop the North more than the Niger Delta region and people.

*The university in Warri has a counterpart in the North training managers and Senior staff of government oil establishment, while the one in Warri is to train junior staff. Both are funded from Niger Delta purse.

* Top management positions including the current board of the NNPC are dominated by and skewed in favor of the North.

* The NNPC was established for the regulation and management of the oil and gas resources of the Niger Deltans yet its administration headquarters is in Abuja the capital and yet in what is today claimed as Northern territory. Why are these not in the Niger Delta to attract natural development.

* The strategic positioning of NNPC headquarters in Abuja is to give full and easy access to contractors of northern extraction to the disadvantage of contractors of the South.

OIL BLOCKS

Vast majority of oil blocks are owned by Northerners.

Niger Delta people only make ill-informed comments when they are willfully misinformed.

What is inciting is to say that when Niger Deltans such as myself give truthful and factual information to our people to enable them come out of the darkness and make the right decision, the jobbers come out to attempt to discredit me, l will rather the people make their decisions based on right information. The only thing that has incited the people of the Niger Delta from the colonial days to date is INJUSTICE, as Nigerian and if we truly love Nigeria we must speak the truth and call injustice by its name injustice.

Nigeria will gain nothing if we continue to twist the facts, Niger Delta has everything to lose if we continue to allow ourselves to be fooled by people we are smarter than.

As Niger Deltans who are blessed with so much wealth, we have no business with poverty, and should no longer continue to wallow in this level of poverty, it does not mean we don’t sympathize with people who refuse to exploit their wealth because they want to exhaust the Niger Delta wealth. We refuse to accept that we must be poor and remain undeveloped because others are not ready as it happened in the past. The confidence the Niger Delta people need now is the confidence of knowing that only the Niger Delta people are committed to securing and developing the Niger Delta.

I agree that Nigeria has the capacity to be great and maybe able to stay together but only when we have answered the age old question HOW DO WE STAY TOGETHER AND WHAT ARE THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS, Nigeria is also too big for 27 states to rely 100% on Niger Delta to provide their needs. If we don’t first make our states, regions and people better we lie if we say we can make the whole of Nigeria better.

We don’t know about any other but as bitter as it may sound Niger Delta is feeding Nigeria fat, everybody needs somebody but not to suck them to death. Niger Delta sleeves have been rolled up since 1958 when oil and gas were found in commercial quantity, what is wrong in wanting to roll our sleeves down bit and live in peace. What is wrong with Niger Delta people wanting to take care of themselves for a change?

ANNKIO BRIGGS is a Niger Delta activist who grew up in the creeks of the region and saw the neglect and suffering of her people, and desires only for equality, justice and equity for her people. She wrote from Port Harcourt, Rivers state.

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