Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Oil producing communities in the Niger Delta have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the payment of the 13 per cent derivation fund to the host areas instead of the state government.
The communities, under the aegis of Concerned Citizens of Oil and Gas Producing Communities of Rivers State (CCOGPCRS), in a letter they addressed to the president, lamented that despite the establishment of several intervention agencies, as well as the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, the host communities are still impoverished.
The letter was signed by the Chairman of CCOGPCRS, Jasper Amahi; the secretary, Comrade Isaac Igomaha and the Public Relations Officer, Comrade Iginiwari Fidelis.
The communities identified the lingering underdevelopment in the face of wealth as one of the factors responsible for youths’ restiveness across the Niger Delta region.
They commended the Buhari-led administration for its drive towards developing the oil-rich region and accused those in authority of exploiting the masses.
They argued that paying the oil and gas areas directly would speed up the development of the communities.
Part of the letter read thus: “We need not say that the principle of derivation was in practice in Nigeria even at 50 per cent long before the discovery of oil in commercial quantity in Oloibiri, precisely Otuabagi community, Ogbia Local Government Area of present day Bayelsa State.
“In the 1999 Federal Constitution, Section 162 (2) as amended, 13 percent Derivation Fund is succinctly provided for and it is to ensure that the oil producing communities who have lost their livelihood, everything and suffered from the pollutions oil spillages, devastation, degradation of oil exploration activities should be adequately compensated.”
“It is regrettable, therefore, that nothing and we mean nothing practically has been done to ameliorate and better the lives of the poor and down trodden masses living in abject poverty in the midst of plenty, which have made Nigeria thick.
“It is saying the obvious that the restiveness in the Niger Delta region is as a result of the neglect and lack of development everywhere you go in the region where oil and gas are produced but the communities lack every basic amenities to make life conducive in modern day living.
“It is ironic and a paradox that what is a blessing to the Nigerian government and other Nigerians is a curse to us who are suffering the brunt of oil production indeed. Nigerian economy revolves on oil revenue yet we have nothing to show for it.
“It is on record that River State since year 2000 have collected over N7 trillion as 13 percent derivation fund but yet there is so much poverty and crime because of the high level impoverishment and total embezzlement of the funds meant for the development of the Oil and Gas bearing communities of the state.
“Now, therefore, it is imperative that Mr. President fulfills his mission to move the people to the next level. To this end, kindly direct, as per the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the payment of 13 percent derivation fund directly to the down trodden masses where oil exploration and gas flaring take place to take charge of the affairs of the administration of their environments and improve their communities.
“Consequently, we solicit Mr. President to use his good offices to direct the relevant agencies to pay the 13 percent derivation fund to the people direct and not to the state governor or River State Government. The peace of the Niger Delta region is the growth of Nigerian economy.”