Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The presidency Monday denied allegations that it had conceived fresh plans to reintroduce onshore/offshore dichotomy in the sharing of crude oil revenue among littoral states with the aim of depriving such states their derivation under the revenue sharing formula.
States delineated as littoral states include: Akwa lbom, Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta and Lagos.
Addressing journalists in the State House yesterday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, said the clarification had become compelling in view of the misconception generated by recommendations of the All Progressives Congress (APC) committee on restructuring led by Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai.
According to him, the intention of the committee by its recommendations was to promote the unity of the country, ensure states are financially empowered to more effectively serve their residents and simultaneously ensure that no one is put in any disadvantaged position.
He recalled that the committee further recommended that the federal government should expeditiously review derivation with a view to reflecting areas of consensus including the control of resources by states and then pay the federal government from their revenues.
Enang added that the committee also recommended an upward review of the current sharing formula in favour of states as well as the application of derivation formula in the sharing of revenues accruable from solid minerals and power generation.
He said: â€œAttention is drawn to the campaign against Mr. President, the APC as a party and the committee on proposal for re-structuring of Nigeria report led by Governor Nasir El-Rufai ,alleging that the said report is introducing on-shore-off-shore dichotomy intended to deprive the littoral states of Akwa lbom, Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, Lagos among others of the derivation content of revenue allocation. And more, by Akwa Ibom State, alleging that a greater part of her revenue is from off-shore oil.
â€œAs preliminary, I want to state aforehand that neither President Muhammadu Buhari, the APC as a ruling party nor the report on re-structuring has reintroduced covertly or overtly or in any manner whatsoever, the abrogated on-shore-off-shore dichotomy and that the statutory allocation to Akwa Ibom and other littoral states will not decrease.
â€œI speak and say again that the intendment of the APC report is to allow the states control resources and devolve more powers to the states, and consequently increase allocation to the states, of which Akwa Ibom is among.â€
Buttressing his point that the allegation is untrue, Enang said the recommendation on revenue sharing is not implementable unless some relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution are first amended, observing that â€œthe apprehension of the contenders is that the recommendation says that the oil, gas, and other minerals devolved to the state and that ;off-shore belongs to the Federal Government.â€
He added: â€œBy Gods special providence, arising from the decision of the Supreme Court in the of AG. v Abia State & 35 ors (2002) 6 NWLR (part 764) 542-905, I played central co-ordinating role in the abolition of the on-shore-off-shore dichotomy in the House of Representatives and my brother, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, now Honourable Minister of Budget and National Planning led in the Senate.
â€œUpon the judgment in 2002, the Federal Government, at the lead of Emeritus Governors of Obong Victor Attah (Akwa Ibom), DSP Alamieyesigha (Bayelsa), James Ibori (Delta) and Peter Odili (Rivers) agreed with the Federal Government on behalf of the littoral states for a political solution, and this was worked out legislatively
â€œReading the judgment of Kutigi, JSC (as he then was) in the case of AG, Federation v. AG, Abia; reading the Judgment of Kutigi, JSC State & Ors (Supra) wherein His Lordship states: â€˜This court has no legislative powers and it cannot rewrite the laws. Only the legislature can lawfully and properly do that if it so wishes.â€™â€
Enang therefore reasoned that with the above judgment, such misgivings about the committeeâ€™s recommendations were needless.