The Concerned Leaders of Rivers State Oil and Gas Producing Communities yesterday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure, forthwith, the direct payment of the 13 per cent derivation fund to the resource-bearing settlements.
The group described as “illegal and unconstitutional” the channelling of the money through state governors, canvassing that the fund be routed to the host communities via the Presidential Derivation Committee (PDC) and State Implementation Committees (SICs).
In a statement by their chairman and secretary, Comrade James Njoku, and Ambassador (Mrs.) Lucy Ikiriko, the stakeholders claimed that over N44 trillion had been “mismanaged, embezzled and diverted” since the disbursement was introduced.
They alleged that no tangible infrastructure was on the ground in thee oil-rich Niger Delta to justify the huge allocations to the zone. Lauding the presidency for ensuring financial autonomy for the 774 council areas, state legislatures and judiciaries, the agitators observed: “As leaders of the Niger Delta region, we are happy that President Muhammadu Buhari has decided to tackle head on the multi-faceted corruption that has bedeviled our dear country, especially as it concerns resource allocation and actual utilisation of such funds.
“The 13 per cent derivation fund is a benchmark recognised by Section 162 (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”They went on: Of a truth, the 13 per cent derivation fund is the only first line charge on the Federation Account. The Federal Government is second line charge, the state government is third line charge, while the local government is fourth line charge. This is the position of the law as confirmed by the revenue formula.
“Over the years, the 13 per cent derivation fund has remained a bone of contention between the state government and the oil-producing communities. Therefore, we implore the Federal Government to stop remitting the 13 per cent derivation allocation to the states.
“It is illegal and unconstitutional to pay the 13 per cent derivation fund, which is first-line charge, through state governors, that are third line charge on the Federation Account, according to Section 162 (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended.)
“This position of the constitution made it very clear that the 13 per cent derivation fund is provided constitutionally and exclusively for the oil/gas producing communities primarily, as compensation for loss of fishing rights and productive farmlands as a result of oil/gas exploration and production activities.
“It is instructive to note that is only the President or Head State that has the prerogative and jurisdiction to handle any matter on the Exclusive Legislative List. No governor or state assemblies can legislate on matters on the exclusive list.
“Therefore, it is illegal and unconstitutional for governors of the South South states and their assemblies to legislate on oil/gas –13 per cent derivation fund – which is first-line charge on the Federation Account.”