The plenary of the National Conference was yesterday thrown into confusion over the contentious derivation principle, forcing it to adjourn till Monday to allow for more consultations.
Problem started when the Vice Chairman of the conference, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, informed delegates that the voice vote on derivation will be stepped down pending the outcome of a meeting of elders’ committee, whose members have been consulting on the issue.
Hardly had he finished when a delegate representing civil society from the South-south, Isaac Osuoka, rose on Order 9, Rule 13, which states that, “the principal officers of the conference shall propose the
number of committees that shall be necessary for the effective discharge of the mandate of the conference”, and queried the constitutionality of the group.
He went on to state that the group was not representing delegates, and that they were not aware that the principal officers have set up a committee to deliberate on derivation. He dismissed members of the group as “working for themselves”.
Chairman of the conference, Justice Idris Kutigi, told Osuoka that he had not been following events in the conference, insisting that the group was well known to the conference.
Supporting Osuoka, former House of Representatives Speaker, and delegate representing former members of the National Assembly, Ghali Umar Na’Abba, maintained that the only report the conference should consider is that of the Committee on Devolution of Powers, insisting that anything short of that should be thrown off and made unacceptable.
On his part, Dr. Haruna Yerima, from Borno state, insisted on voting for derivation, saying that he wanted to cast his vote to decide on any contentious issue as stipulated on the rules of the conference.
Another delegate from the South-south zone, Chief Musa Adede, told the chairman that the conference had deviated from the main procedure and urged the chairman to lead well.
Naseer Kura, representing civil society, insisted that there will be no voice vote but casting of ballots, which would be better understood by every conferee.
Engr. Buba Galadima, representing Yobe state, who shouted on top of his voice, insisted that no document shall be entertained except the one from the committee.
Continuing, Galadima said: “We must vote; no wuru-wuru.” He was stopped by Akinyemi who told him that his utterances do not show respect for the chairman.
The matter took a new twist when, a member of the elders’ committee and former Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomassie, disowned the report of the consensus group totally, saying that the North was not part of the resolution.
He said: “I am Alhaji Ibrahim Coomassie, a co-chairman of the northern delegates. I am the leader of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF). The report circulated to you is not with our endorsement. We have been meeting and consulting for long even through midnight, but have not reached consensus”.
The matter got to a crescendo when former Secretary of the Government of the Federation and delegate representing federal government, Chief Olu Falae, advised his colleagues to remain calm, reminding them that all problems will go and Nigeria will remain.
He requested that he should be allowed to read his report, but his plea was greeted by a loud ‘No’ from some northern delegates.
He was however, allowed by the chairman to read his proposed amendment, amidst shouts of “No, No, No” by some northern delegates.
Falae said that after exhaustive deliberations, the group agreed to amend recommendation (a) on Page 39 of the report by substituting the earlier submission with: “Provided that the principle of derivation shall be constantly reflected in any approved formula as being not less than 18 percent (18%) of the revenue accruing to the federation account directly from any natural resource.
“That not less that 50% of the total derivation fund accruable to a mineral bearing state shall be due and payable to the Host Communities within the state where the resources are derived in accordance with the production quota contributed by such communities.
“There shall be established a Solid Mineral Development Fund which is currently 3% of the federal government account referred to by the Committee on Page 40 of its report. It shall be increased to 5% and will be applied to solid minerals development in the states.
“There shall be a National Intervention Fund, which will be 5% of the annual revenue accruing to the account of the federal government for the stabilization, rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas affected by terrorism and insurgency in the first instance in the North-east of Nigeria, and any other parts of the country affected.
In the alternative, he continued: “There shall be a National Intervention Fund which shall be 5% of the annual revenue accruing to the account of the federal government for the stabilization, rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas affected by terrorism and insurgency, in the first instance in the North-east of Nigeria, North-central, North-west, and other parts of the country.”
Sensing that the session was degenerating to fisticuff, Justice Kutigi, however, called for a motion for adjournment, announcing that he will meet with the ‘50 Wise Men’, as well as chairmen and vice chairmen of the committees to find an acceptable formula.
Speaking to newsmen after the adjournment, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, representing Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON), said that the elders’ committee met with interest groups to intervene on the issue of derivation and agreed on pegging it at 18 percent.
According to Dokpesi, “50 percent should be paid to communities and special fund of 5% set aside for mineral resources development. There are people that are determined to scuttle the conference. We are 37 in the elders’ committee; 34 people signed, while Bashir Dalhatu, Mohammed Kumalia and Ibrahim Coomassie refused to sign”.