The National Conference will, today, begin its final debates on some of the most stormy subjects before its 492 delegates, with the emotive issues of resource control, derivation principle, revenue sharing formula and offshore/onshore dichotomy, set for consideration.
The issues, which come under Devolution of Powers, were contentious during the committee sittings, splitting its 30 members along ethnic and sectional lines.
They were equally controversial during the previous conferences of 1994/1995 and 2005.
The committee’s report is the last to be considered at the plenary session of the conference which ends on July 17.
The panel was chaired by a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Victor Attah, and a former Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Coommassie, who is also the chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), a socio-cultural group comprising the 19 states of the North.
The 492-member conference has already considered and voted on the recommendations of 19 committees and amendments proposed by the delegates.
The Committees are Political Restructuring and Forms of Government; National Security; Environment; Politics and Governance; Laws, Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Reform; Social Sector; Transport; Science, Technology and Development; Agriculture; Civil Society, Labour and Sports; Public Service; Political Parties and Electoral Matters; and Foreign Policy and Diaspora Matters.
The others are Land Tenure Matters and National Boundary; Economy, Trade and Investment; Energy; Religion; Public Finance and Revenue Generation; Immigration and other Related Matters.
The consideration of the report of the Committee on Devolution of Power might turn out to be contentious, not only because of the touchy issues it covered, but also because it is the only committee with a minority report prepared by one of its members, Annkio Briggs, a Federal Government delegate from Rivers State.
The northern delegates have already rejected some of the resolutions adopted during the debate on the report of the Committee on Political Restructuring and Forms of Government last week. The action may lead to a walkout by the delegates.
In the terms of reference given to it, the Devolution of Power Committee was asked to consider issues that could be taken from the Exclusive to Concurrent and/or Residual Legislative Lists or vice versa. The issues are Fiscal Federalism, (which covers revenue sharing, resource control and sharing formula), Policing, Local Government administration and role to traditional rulers and institutions in governance.
During its sittings, there were intense arguments among its members thereby dividing them along north-south line, both of which came with varied agendas.
The northern delegates canvassed the scrapping of interventionist institutions and agencies such as the Federal Ministry of Niger Delta and Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
The South-South delegates demanded either full control of its resources or 50 per cent derivation formulae.
Among the key recommendations contained in the 42-page report of the committee produced at the end of its sitting in May, are that Item 39 in the Exclusive List- Mines and minerals, including Oil Fields, oil Mining, Geological Surveys and natural Gas – should remain there provided: “The Governments of states where the mining activities take place shall be involved in matters relating thereto.”
It also resolved that the Federal Government should create a special fund to develop mines and minerals in states where such resources are undeveloped. It recommended that 4.5 per cent of the total revenue accruing to the Federation should be devoted to the Fund.
The committee said in making the recommendation, it considered the overriding need to bring all the other mineral resources of the country, hitherto undeveloped, into mainstream development by activating National Strategic Plan for Exploiting of all minerals so as to boost their contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
It also recommended that the sharing of funds accruing to the Federation Account should be as follows: Federal Government share be reduced from 52.68 per cent to 42.5 per cent, State Government be increased from 26.72 per cent to 35 per cent and Local Governments from 20.60 per cent to 22.5per cent.
It also recommended that rather than have states control their resources, the 13 per cent derivation as contained in the 1999 Constitution be retained with a proviso that a percentage of the 13 per cent derivation devolves to the host communities from which the resources are derived.
The committee recommended that the issue of offshore/Onshore dichotomy should be left as it is.
The committee further recommended the creation of the Office of the Accountant General (Director-General) of the Federation as a distinct and separate office from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federal Government. The functions of the both offices are to be clearly outlined and demarcated.
But in her 11-page minority report, Ms. Briggs said within the frameworks of the federal principles, the proposed Constitution of the country should provide for the ownership of natural resources by states of the Federation, “which shall pay no more than 50 per cent of the revenue from the exploitation of those resources to the Federation.”
She also proposed that 10 per cent of the proceeds from the exploitation of mineral resources should be set aside for communities directly affected by minerals exploitation activities. Such a fund, according to her, would help in ameliorating the environmental degradation and other factors that leads to loss of community livelihoods in sites of extraction.
“It is important to note that the principle of state ownership of mineral resources and the Derivation Principle are not for oil and gas alone, but for all mineral resources, including bitumen and solid minerals,” Ms. Briggs stressed.
The issues of resource control, derivation principle and revenue formula were contentious in the previous conferences.
However, the 1994/1995 Constitutional Conference convoked by the late Head of State, Sani Abacha, in its report recommended not less than 13 per cent derivation formula.
The report added, “However, that the figure of the allocation for derivation shall be deemed to include any amount that may be set aside for funding any special authority of not less than five years from the day the bill shall be assented to by the President.”
On mining activities, the Conference recommended that “At least 50 per cent of funds allocated to OMPADEC should be devoted to the rehabilitation of the environment of oil producing areas.”
The Conference had also recommended that in the interest of peace, progress, and unity and having regard to the fact that Federal Legislation supersedes that of the states, the issue of mines and minerals, including oil fields, oil mining, geological surveys and natural gas be retained in the Exclusive List.
“There is a need to avoid a situation where wrong decision may hinder the exploration and exploitation or encourage the opposition by inhabitants of the areas where the exploration activities are taking place,” the report warned.
The National Political Reform Control (NPRC), convoked by former President Olusegun Obasanjo recommended the increase of derivation fund from 13 per cent to 17 per cent pending the report of an Expert Commission to be appointed by the Federal Government.
“Delegates from the South-South and other oil producing states insisted on 50 per cent as the irreducible minimum. Having regard to national unity, peace and stability, they are willing, however, to accept in the interim 25 per cent derivation with a gradual increase to attain the 50 per cent over a period of five years,” NPRC Report added.
Prior to the recommendation, the issue of resource control had torn the Conference apart with the delegates from the oil-rich South-South staging a walkout on June 14, 2005. A member of the Conference also submitted a minority report on the issue.
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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