The twin contentious issues of resource control and derivation principle caused a rowdy session at the plenary of the National Conference yesterday, as delegates were sharply divided on them and only came short of engaging each other in fisticuffs.
The plenary session, therefore, ended without a final decision on critical issues of revenue sharing formula from the Federation Account and derivation principle, although a consensus group had earlier recommended 18 per cent derivation for the South-South, 5 per cent for exploration of minerals across the country and another 5 per cent for reconstruction of North-East Zone ravaged by Boko Haram insurgency.
Although the consensus committee’s recommendation was presented on Wednesday by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, members of the Consensus Committee derived from the six geo-political zones to find a middle ground to the contentious issue of derivation formula did not, however, reach an agreement on the issues before Gambari’s presentation.
At yesterday’s plenary, the leader of the Northern group on the committee and former Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie, fired the first salvo when he announced that the committee was yet to reach an agreement on the contentious issues.
A resolution of the committee earlier submitted by Chief Raymond Dokpesi and later read to the delegates by Chief Olu Falae, who represented the South-West on the committee, was greeted with disapproval by some delegates.
Falae said the committee did agree that the principle of derivation shall be constantly reflected in any approved formula as being not less than 18 per cent of the revenue accruing to the Federation Account directly from any natural resources.
He said it was also agreed that not less than 50 per cent of the total derivation fund accruable to a mineral bearing state shall be due and payable to the host communities within the state where the resources are derived in accordance with the production quota contributed by such communities.
Amidst the shout by a number of the delegates, Falae announced that an aspect of the decision was that there shall be established a Solid Mineral Development Fund which is currently 3 per cent but which would be increased to 5 per cent of the revenue accruing to the Federation Account.
He said a National Intervention Fund which would be 5 per cent of annual revenue accruing to the account of the Federal Government for the stabilization, rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas affected by terrorism and insurgency, starting with the North-East, and then any other part of the country affected by the insurgency.
Faced with obvious rowdiness from a cross-section of the delegates who variously disagreed with the presentations by both Coomasie and Falae; and applause from another section that seemed to also variously agree with the two presentations, Conference Chairman, Justice Idris Kutugi decided to adjourn sitting till Monday.
After a brief consultation with the principal officers, he announced that the leadership of the conference would meet with selected delegates referred to as the ‘50 Wise Men’ in a bid to resolve the contentious issues.
Justice Kutigi said in addition, all the chairmen, co-chairmen and deputy chairmen of the 20 committees that handled different assignments for the conference should also attend the meeting.
However, before the adjournment, conference had considered and adopted certain aspects of the report on Devolution of Power, including the recommendation that granting public holidays should be moved from the Exclusive to the Concurrent Legislative List.
In adopting the recommendation through a unanimous decision, conference said this would give states the latitude to declare holidays reflective of the values of their own people.
Conference also accepted the recommendation that management of prison services be retained in the Exclusive Legislative List as specified in the 1999 Constitution. The same was done to fishing and fisheries other than those in rivers, lakes, waterways, ponds and other inland waters within Nigeria.
Also retained in the Exclusive Legislative List are insurance, stamp duties and formation, annulment and dissolution of marriages other than marriages under Islamic Law and Customary Law, including matrimonial causes.
Moved from Concurrent to the Exclusive Legislative List is the first item on the Concurrent Legislative List which deals with allocation of revenue and division of public revenue between states and the federation, between states and states and between states and local governments.
The merger of Items 6, 15, and 24 which all relate to banks, banking, exchange control, bills of exchange, currency, coinage, legal tender and promissory notes, was also approved and adopted for placement in the Exclusive Legislative List.
Other issues left in the Exclusive Legislative List are taxation of income, profits and capital gains; trade and commerce while other aspects of Trade and Commerce particularly, registration of business was moved to the Concurrent List.
The committee also recommended that regulations of political parties be retained in the Exclusive Legislative List as specified in the 1999 Constitution as amended. Pensions, gratuities and other-like benefits payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public funds of the federation are to be split between the Exclusive and Concurrent Legislative Lists.
In one aspect, retirees previously employed by the Federal Government are entitled to payment of their benefits by the Federal Government while state governments shall have exclusive jurisdiction over the pension matters of their own employees and retirees.
The committee also recommended the retention of Traffic of Federal Trunk roads in the Exclusive Legislative List as specified in the 1999 Constitution.
Meanwhile, the controversy surrounding the retention or otherwise of the Land Use Act which raged at the presentation of the report of the National Conference Committee on Land Tenure Matters and National Boundary has finally been nipped in the bud as the conference has voted for its retention in the Constitution.
While voting for its retention, the conference resolved that however, certain amendments would be carried out in certain sections of the Act.
The conference noted that one of such amendments would enable land owners to determine the price and value of their land while allowing government to negotiate with land owners and not compensate them.
The whole argument for the retention of the Act in the 1999 Constitution was based on the belief that allowing the Act to go would give chance for oligarchs to take over lands which the Land Use Act has democratized with the government as the intervening body.
Supporters of this school of thought had argued that since land is not a renewable commodity, it must not be left at the mercy of land speculators; and that removing it from the Constitution would be discriminatory and unjust to the poor.
It was their position that removing the Act from the Constitution would create dichotomy; describing the suggestion as a grand design for the rich to buy land at cheap prices, a situation they said would lead to crisis that cannot be managed.
However, the others argued that the Land Use Act should remain a law but must be removed from the Constitution to make it easy for amendment.
They argued that at present, amending the Act through the Constitution has become too cumbersome and that in other countries, land tenure is universal while governments nearest to the communities serve land tenure better.
They complained that governments have taken peoples’ land and have refused to pay compensation; and that since the promulgation of the Act, access to land has remained a major problem, thus hindering economic development.
It was also stated that the power of compulsory acquisition vested on state governors has been, in most cases, used arbitrarily without the payment of adequate compensation to land owners.
The committee noted that both sides of the argument were convincing; unfortunately none of them agreed with the other and no side agreed to back down.
Thus, in its decision which was accepted by the conference, it was stated that the Act would be retained in the Constitution while certain amendments would be carried out in certain sections of the Act.
It was also resolved that the customary right of occupancy in Section 21 of the Act be amended to read “Customary Right of Occupancy should have the same status as statutory Right of Occupancy, and should also be extended to urban land”.
It was further agreed that Section 7 of the Act which deals with the restriction on rights of persons under the age of 21 to be granted statutory right of occupancy should be amended to read “restriction of persons under the age of 18”. This, it was argued, is because the Child Rights Act stipulates that a person attains adulthood at the age of 18.
With the decision on the issue of the Land Use Act, the report of the Committee on Land Tenure Matters and National Boundary was formally adopted, as amended.
Meanwhile, the South-West delegates at the National Conference have denounced the report of the Consensus Group, presented by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari on resolving the impasse on derivation principle last Wednesday in Abuja.
The Consensus Group made up of leaders from the six geo-political zones had proposed 18 per cent derivation to the oil-bearing states, five per cent first line charge for the development of mineral resources and another five per cent National Intervention Fund in Boko Haram devastated areas in the North East, as well as other areas affected in North Central and North West.
The Yoruba delegates, arising from a caucus meeting, rejected the report, stating that the report gave a wrong impression of what the intervention fund was set to achieve.
They argued that the fund is aimed to serve the collective interest of the country and not a sectional interest as presented by Pro. Gambari.
According to Secretary, South-West Delegation to the 2014 National Conference, Dr. Kunle Olajide, South-West delegates view Gambari’s projected amount as a depletion of the federation account through nebulous funds to promote insurgency in the country.
They also argued that the position is aimed at legalising the impoverishment of non-oil bearing states in South-West, South-East and South-South, as these states, neither benefit from derivation nor the so-called intervention fund.
Justus Awaji, Abuja
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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