Considering the milieu of national concerns Nigerians have
had to cope with recently the near-frequent and endless juggling of oil wells
from one oil producing state to another can only add to the worries of the
affected people. And to think that these repeated appropriations involve states
created not just two years ago but over decades, speaks volumes about the
functioning of some public institutions.
Only last month, the Supreme Court of the Federation ruled
on a dispute between Cross River and Akwa Ibom States over 70 oil wells in
favour of the latter. This was after the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and
Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and the National Boundary Commission, relying on
lines drawn and formula they conjured attempted to displace the status quo.
Considering the pre-eminent blood-ties both states enjoyed,
the litigations could at best create avoidable bickering in the future and if
not politically handled, far beyond the Supreme Court verdict, could even grow
to engulf the ordinary people. This is indeed very unfortunate and needs not be
No stranger to the indignation of such denials and patience,
Rivers State, had not too long ago carried a similar protest up to the same
apex court to get justice. But in the
end, what the affected states passed through in lost revenues, stalled projects
and indeed delay in human capacity development efforts are better imagined than
That is why The Tide is worried by the revelation, last week
by Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi that Federal allocations to
the state have dropped from N18 billion to N13 billion. The plunge in revenue,
without doubt, draws from not-too-distant manipulations, repeatedly complained
Sadly, the down-ward review in federally allocated revenue
stems from same inter-state oil wells juggling which, we understand recently
ceded oil wells in oil bearing Rivers Communities of Soku and Kula among others
to neighbouring Bayelsa. As usual, reasons, and formulae employed still remain
There is no gain-saying that the outcome of this fresh
manipulation will negatively impact the warm relationship between the two
sister states. This is indeed needless and avoidable.
Curiously, this manipulation is coming at a time, the Rivers
State Government has already undertaken so much that naturally would require
more revenue to actualise. Programmes and projects like the engagement of more
than 10,000 teachers with its challenging wage bill, employment of more 200
medical doctors, the Greater Port Harcourt City Development, Monorail and other
on-going mega roads construction will, without doubt, be negatively impacted.
Therefore, we expect the Rivers State Government to ask the
right questions and if and where answers are considered unsatisfactory, employ
all legitimate means of recovering all affected sources of oil and gas revenue.
Such effort shall, where necessary include legal stepping up to the nation’s
apex court and obtain justice.
While that is on, we expect the state government to redouble
its internal revenue drive especially under designated banks and consultants,
by ensuring proper monitoring and supervision. The improved internal revenue
earnings reported early this year, must not be seen as the limit but indeed a
stepping board towards greater drive.
Also, we expect improved and deliberate funding of
productive state-owned firms and parastatals with a view to positioning them
for improved returns. The tourism sector is key, so also are on-going efforts
to invest handsomely in industrial agriculture. Rather than serve as a
set-back, the new challenge posed by the drop in revenue should further
engineer more proactive economic planning.
Most importantly, we expect the state’s Commerce and
Industry Ministry to step-up the campaign to show-case the state’s abundant
resources and create an even better investment climate to woo foreign
investors. The relative peace thus far enjoyed by the state should be exploited
to widen industrial activities.
That way, the period of searching for justice against the
now frequent juggling of oil wells, between and among states, would not be as
frustrating as largely feared. In the end, we believe, good will prevail over