The National Conference yesterday failed to resolve the vexed issue of derivation percentage as well as the Special Funds for the North-East and instead, recommended that a Presidential Technical Committee be constituted by the Presidency, to address the contentious issue.
The recommendation was sequel to the inability of the Consensus Group, selected elders and standing the committees’ chairmen and their deputies and the principal officers of the conference to arrive at a consensus on the derivation percentages for oil producing areas, minerals development funds as well the special funds for the stabilisation, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of the devastated North-East.
Though the Committee on Devolution of Power had recommended retention of the status quo on the 13 percent derivation for oil producing areas, 4.5 percent for minerals development, leaders of the geo-political zones and some professional groups had in a quest to ensure consensus on the vexed issue of derivation met and resolved to improve on 13 percent derivation by increasing it to at 18 percent, as well as created five percent Special Funds for the North-East.
Yesterday, delegates had been in expectation of a resolution to the thorny issue, but after five hours of consultation, deliberations and negotiations, the group could not secure a consensus and therefore, opted to push the matter to a presidential technical committee, believing that it would be armed with the technical statistics and the in-depth financial profile of the federal government, to determine what percentage would be proper for the three items recommended.
Chairman of the conference, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi (rtd), had invited Chief Olu Falae, Hon. Mohammed Kumalia, Gen. Ike Nwachukwu (rtd) and former Senate President Iyorcha Ayu for a brief meeting, when there were indications that the group had completed its consultations; and subsequently he announced the resolution reached at the meeting of the leaders and principal officers of the Conference.
The decision though did not go down well a cross-section of the delegates, who shouted their objection. A delegate, Francis Doukpola, relying on Order 9 (9) that says that whatever had been voted for should not be reversed but he too was shouted down.
Determined to nib the growing rowdy atmosphere in the bud, the chairman called for the adoption of the recommendations and amendments of the report of the Committee on Devolution of Power which Sen. Ibrahim Idah responded to by moving the motion and was seconded by Okon Osung.
Thereafter, the chairman stamped his authority by saying amidst shouts, “in line with the Rules of Procedure that having adopted the report of the Committee, this effectively brings us to the end of this debate.”
Plenary will reconvene on August 4, to consider the drafted recommendations and subsequently the clean copy of the recommendations to be forwarded to the Presidency.