Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark
By Adibe Emenyonu
Elder statesman and former Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, has said it was sheer greed on the part of governors of oil and gas producing states to appropriate the 13 per cent derivation fund meant for the oil and gas producing communities.
Clark stated this after he was told by the leadership of the oil producing communities that the Federal Government has paid out over N7.282 trillion in the past 13 years as 13 per cent derivation fund to the oil producing communities with nothing on the ground in those communities to show for it.
Playing host to a delegation of the oil and gas producing communities from Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Edo and Ondo States, the elder statesman recalled the pressures, which were exerted during the 1994 Constitutional Conference as well as the drafting of the 1999 Constitution by the oil producing communities.
According to him, it was the agitation from the leaders and people of the communities that made the Federal Government to entrench the 13 per cent derivation fund into the 1999 Constitution to pacify the communities.
He explained that section 162 (2) of the constitution, which provided for the payment of derivation fund as first line charge, did not say the payment should be made through any state government to the oil producing communities.
Clark emphasised that the fund was created by the Federal Government to address infrastructural deficit and neglect of the oil and gas producing communities, pointing out that the 13 per cent derivation fund belonged to the producing communities.
He maintained that direct payments of the 13 per cent derivation fund to the producing communities would bring development to those communities much faster.
The delegation, which was led by Niger Delta leader, Chief Wellington Okirika, had visited Clark to thank and pray for him for his leadership role both for the Niger Delta and the country and called for the creation of a National Derivation Committee on 13 per cent derivation fund with state implementation committees to be set up by the Federal Government to manage the fund on behalf of oil and gas producing communities.