By Kingsley Chijioke
The plenary of the National Conference yesterday adjourned abruptly to give room for more consultation over controversy generated by derivation principle. This followed a motion moved by leader of South East delegates and delegate representing Federal Government, General Ike Omar Sanda Nwachukwu, who informed Chairman of the Conference, Justice Idris Kutigi that a high level consultations by leaders of the zones were going on to resolve the contentious issues on derivation principle. Nwachukwu, went on to beg Kutigi to adjourn the plenary till today to allow for consultations. In seconding the motion, a former minority leader of the House of Representatives and delegate representing North East zone, Mohammed Kumaila informed the chairman that it will be in the Interest of all the delegates to resolve the issue through consesus which he said will satisfy everybody. This came as the voting was about to take place with the conference positioning their transparent ballot boxes. It was based on the controversy the issue has generated and coupled with a complain by a Northern delegate, Professor Ibrahim Gambari that made the leadership to opt for voting. Gambari backed by Northern elements had faulted the voting rules in the conference as not conforming with the rules of the conference, which made the leadership of the conference to introduce voting on the contentious issues.
It could be recalled that the Committee on Devolution of Power in their report had recommended that the 13 percent derivation to oil producing states be retained. However, the recommendation which clearly pitched delegates against each other with some supporting it’s retention while others specially
“Niger-Deltans” pushing for upward review up to 50 percent. While opening debate on the report, Daniel Steve Aluko, a delegate representing civil society group urged delegates to work for posterity sake. Aluko who supports devolution of power, said that more money should be given to the oil producing states to cater for degradation the region is suffering.
Opposing Aluko is another civil society group delegate, Mr. Festus Okoye. Okoye who spoke on two issues, said that states that have more problem should have more allocation.
He however, supported the retention of the 13 percent derivation informing that if derivation should be increased the new states to be created will suffer and collapse. He faulted the manner in which some states are collecting more than a zone. “ i want to speak on two issues, resource control and derivation principle. states that have more problem should receive more. If weshould increase the principle of derivation the new states that will be created will collapse. South East will be the most heated. Do you know that on a particular allocation, Akwa Ibom got N29b Rivers N27b and the whole South East got just N29. If you do that some states will not be able to pay salary. I support that we should retain the 13 percent derivation” he said. Y. C. Yau also of the civil society group told delegates that it is not only about allocating resources, but to make sure the resources go to the people it was meant to cater for. He moved that ,the ICT should be in the concurrent list, but was however, silent on how much should be given as derivation.
Professor Awwal Yadudu, a Kano State indigene while supporting Yau, said that the conference should move ahead and adopt the report. He therefore, opined that off shore and on shore arrangement should be removed if derivation is to increase.
Hon. chibudom Nwuche, a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and delegate representing former members of National Assembly, blamed the nation’s woes on the structural arrangement adopted by the system which he said brought about the culture of sharing the cake rather than baking the cake. The Rivers State born politician suggested that 7 percent of the the revenue should be set aside for special fund to develop natural resources. He also appealed to delegates in the spirit of give and take to increase derivation to at least 30 percent for oil producing states.
Former Kebbi Governor and delegate representing Federal government, Alhaji Adamu Aliero, who supported the retention of 13 percent derivation, said that increment can only be possible if other mineral resources have been developed and tapped.
A former Vice Chancellor of University of Abuja, and delegate representing Bauchi State, Professor Gambo Laraba Abdulahi, stressed the need to look for alternative source of income instead of focusing more on oil money.
The plenary was adjourned to give room for more consultation on the contentious issues which will be tabled tomorrow for discussion.