N’Delta Youths Demand Review of Revenue Sharing Formula

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Sunday Dare

• Ask FG to forestall future #ENDSARS protests

• FG seeks more time to address youth concerns

Gboyega Akinsanmi

Youths in the Niger Delta yesterday asked the federal government to review the extant revenue sharing formula in line with the principles of true federalism and in the spirit of fairness.

The youths, also, challenged the federal government to address their concerns and grievances as a matter of urgency in order to forestall the resurgence of #EndSARS protests in the future.

These demands are contained in a statement issued after the Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare held a town hall meeting with the youths in Asaba, the Delta State capital yesterday.

Under the current revenue sharing formula, the federal government takes 52.68%, the states 26.72% and the local governments, 20.60% with 13 percent derivation revenue going to the oil producing states.

The meeting was attended by the Secretary General, Ijaw Youth Council, Frank Pukon; Delta South Youth Leader, Otesiri Festus; Delta North Youth Leader, Donald Okonta; Delta Central Youth Leader, Kosoro Kelvin and representative of Female Advocacy Group, Benedicta Apnana, among others

In the statement by the minister’s Special Adviser on Media, Mr. John Akanji yesterday, Okonta was quoted as saying almost all states “are not viable. The states in the South-south are producing oil.”

As indicated in the statement, Okonta noted that there “should be a review of the sharing formula of oil revenue. The people are living in abject poverty despite producing the wealth of the nation. Food insecurity is alarming

“We need to relocate the offices of the oil producing companies to the South-south. The lawmakers should enact a law that would accommodate at least 40% youths in the Federal Executive Council. We must create space for the Nigerian youth so that we can be part of the government.

“The federal government must address the problem of power. Without power, the system cannot work. Imbalances should be addressed. The textiles mills must be revived instead of importing from China.

“Nigeria must be restructured in line with the promise of President Mohammadu Buhari during his campaigns. The president should review Nigeria Youth Investment Fund. N75 billion is too small for Nigeria Youths who constitute the larger percentage of our population,” he said.

He, also, urged the federal government to constitute budget implementation, which according to him, would ensure compliance with budget implementation.

Pukon, who spoke on behalf of Ijaw Youth Ethnic Nationalities, commended the minister for engaging the youths in the region, though asked the federal government to do something urgently to forestall future #ENDSARS protests.

He said: “Those of us in the riverine areas have no access to the internet. We need new policies to create jobs and end oil theft, degradation and joblessness.

“The federal government should re activate abandoned road projects and the deep-sea port. Federal Maritime College should be revived,” Pukon said.

According to him, there should be no monopoly of refineries. The federal government must put our refineries back to operations so that we can enjoy peace and progress.

At the town-hall meeting, the minister assured youth that their grievances would be tabled at the meeting of the Federal Executive Council for concrete action.

Dare said: “We would ensure that all the issues raised are tabled before the Federal Executive Council. Also, all the ministers involved will be properly briefed. Vehicles must be created to ensure the implementation of the various demands.

“It is important to use your lawmakers to get things done. We need to put legislation in place to get results. We can also put our demands in writing. We have begun the process of engagement and it will be sustained.”

The minister said the federal government “is aware of the issues raised by the youths. While President Muhammadu Buhari is already addressing some through various youth – based programmes, others are already taken care of.

“What is most important is that Buhari cares about the youths of this country. Everything has a process. We must be patient and allow the government to attend to the demands the youths have raised.

“Some issues raised include lack of access to information about opportunities for the youths, bad roads, power and lopsided appointment at the Federal Executive Council (FEC),” the minister explained.