The National Coordinator of South-south Elders’ Forum, HRH Anabs Sara-Igbe, has urged the governors of the South-south states to develop the oil-bearing and impacted communities with the existing 13 per cent derivation.
Sara-Igbe, who was the immediate-past spokesman for the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), stated that the oil and gas-bearing and impacted communities in the Niger Delta region may oppose any increase in derivation from oil and gas unless the state governors of the region account for the 13 per cent derivation they have been collecting.
The Niger Delta statesman, who spoke with newsmen in Port Harcourt, River State, noted that most of the oil and gas communities are still in squalor without drinkable water, hospitals, electricity, jetties, roads, schools, employment, scholarship, embankment and reclamation among others.
He slammed the governors for asking for more allocation on behalf of the oil and gas-bearing and impacted communities without anything to show for the 13 per cent derivation they have been collecting.
The monarch explained: “In 1966, the military came in and changed the derivation principle and totally abrogated derivation. But when we started fighting, we got 1.5 per cent, from there, we got 3 per cent. The 3 per cent gave us OMPADEC, and it was changed to Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), and we also have statutory allocation based on the budget of the Niger Delta. And so, NDDC and the 13 per cent derivation came to life.
“But this money is a palliative to address the effect of the oil and gas production on the Niger Delta. It is not meant for all the Niger Delta communities, it is meant for only the oil and gas-bearing communities. But that does not mean that after developing the oil and gas communities, other communities would not benefit because some communities which the pipelines pass-through can also benefit.”
He urged the governors to develop the oil and gas-bearing communities to end the agitations in the region.
The region leader said: “But basically you have to address the effect of the oil activities in the area of operations, and for these years, the actual communities bearing the oil have not benefited from the 13 per cent derivation fund. And if you go to these areas, they are still living in squalor-no schools, no hospitals, no employment, no appointment, no road, no jetty, no reclamation, and nothing to show for it.”
However, the former publicity secretary of PANDEF commended the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, for his bold step in the issue of Valued Added Tax (VAT), adding that the country is gradually restructuring itself.