When, more than three years ago, this column averred that the economic undertone behind the Boko Haram-inspired insurgency in the North East of Nigeria was to attract Federal attention as did the Niger Delta, some pundits described the work as alarmist. Today, everything points towards that direction.
From an ill-conceived ideology that Western education is evil, to attempt to Islamise the North, and if possible Nigeria, to outlawing education for the girl-child, in preference for early marriage, the Boko Haram campaign of horror have always lacked any clearly discernable grievance befitting national discuss.
But because the North’s real grouse was against the amnesty granted Niger Delta militants and the creation of a Niger Delta Ministry, some Northern elements would rather the insurgency in the North East zone continued. To achieve that they secretly fund the activities of Boko Haram at night and condemn the senseless blood-letting and wanton destruction of property, by day.
The kidnap of the over 200 children from Chibok School accidentally provided more than enough opportunity to attract both national and international attention to their self-inflicted orgy of violence in the North East and parts of the North.
But what has indeed exposed the hitherto secret agenda is the not-too-strange clamour by Northern delegates at the National Conference for an appropriation of five per cent of National resources for the rebuilding of the three Northern zones. This is a condition if they are to support the genuine demand of the oil producing states in the Niger Delta region for either an upward review of the 13 per cent derivation allocation or endorse total resources control.
Ordinarily, a demand for such upward review by oil producing states in the on-going National Conference should not be seen as an attempt to favour the Niger Delta region. Marginalised, under-developed and grossly undermined, the area accounted for more than 80 per cent of national earnings for well over forty years.
There were, and still are environmental concerns with lands, swamps and rivers virtually dead on account of systemic pollution. The peoples’ time-tested occupations of fishing and farming are almost comatose because the yields are nothing to depend on.
In the face of all these, the youth remain largely unemployed, while the gullible girl-child is forced into early prostitution by oil company workers with means. Potable drinking water, electricity supply and motorable roads remained a mirage. But each time civil protests were made the state’s reaction was always that something was in the pipeline for the people.
So, from years of civil protests and political appeals, the Niger Delta agitation changed to resource control campaign. With the attendant disruption of oil exploration and exploitation activities, Nigeria’s earnings dropped drastically with an even greater likelihood of dropping to disturbing levels.
The amnesty package announced by the Yar’Adua Presidency therefore, was a bold attempt top address an obvious wrong, give oil bearing states a sense of integration and in some measure, turn youth hopelessness into hope.
This is quite unlike the Boko Haram misadventure which key point of protest is that Western education is evil and at some stage islamisation of secular Nigeria. And for these, the terrorist group has continued to wage a war on Nigeria, particularly targets in the North East. On the last count, the terror group is known to have claimed more than 3,000 lives, among them defenseless men, women and children. Also, public and private institutions in the flash point areas have been touched with very devastating outcome.
Surely all those will require public support to rebuild as would many victims of the insurgency, some palliatives. But these are not enough reasons for Northern delegates to insist on five per cent of the nation’s revenue as a constitutional right. Not only is it absurd, it is indefencible.
If the three Northern zones are to enjoy five per cent as a blackmail ploy to endorse an upward review of the derivation formula, what happens tomorrow if say, the South-West and South-East engineer similar insurgency?
Should it now be a national passtime to compensate for every insurgency no matter how meaningless? Where in the world are appropriations made for running or anticipated insurgency as a constitutional compulsion.
By nature of their high credentials in public service, delegates at the on-going National Conference on devolution of power, Resource Control and Derivation were depended upon to avoid these questions by doing right. They were expected to fashion a template that would guarantee peaceful co-existence, engender justice and equity and avoid inter-ethnic religious and cultural disharmony.
But it does appear that such high expectations were misplaced. For, they seem bent on pursuing a regional agenda alien to true nationhood, equity and fair-play, in preference for greed, insensitivity and covetousness. Otherwise, why should a genuine demand for a slight review of the Derivation formula attract such frivolous demand for five per cent grant to reward insurgency in the three zones of the North?
Towards the tail end of the Obasanjo Presidency, the National Conference, recommended 18 per cent to be appropriated but that was truncated by the third term agenda injected into the reforms package. Eight years after, why should 18 per cent be an issue?
In the years of the groundnut pyramids, cocoa and other cash crops, when, producers enjoyed between 50 and 100 per cent control of their resources, no special conference was convoked to decide for producers their lawful due. In those days, every federating unit struggled to bring something to the table and not depend solely on handouts from the centre.
Sadly, what today feeds Nigeria being oil and gas, and sourced mainly from the oil producing Niger Delta are exhaustible, while the aftermath of years of oil exploration and exploitation cannot be washed away easily. So, is it too much to ask that improved steps be taken to address environmental challenges, crass under-development and remediation of the thoroughly bastardized soil, swamps, Rivers, creeks, seas and indeed the health of the inhabitants?
Rather than view the demand as a worthy request intended to guarantee improved and hitch-free oil production activities, ensure more national earnings and help develop other parts of the country that bring little or nothing to the revenue allocation table, some are playing politics with the issue.
They are rather agitating for the reward for a senseless Boko Haram-inspired insurgency, which they themselves created, as a condition for approving the slight review of the derivation formula from 13 percent to 18 per cent? Would they rather the Niger Delta demanded resource control and force its youth return to the era of militancy when Nigeria could hardly produce a million barrels of crude per day? For how long shall some Nigerians behave like dogs in a manager- ‘if we can’t get it nobody else should’?
Curiously, owing to the incessant frictions between herdsmen and farmers over frequent destruction of farmlands, it has become a national duty to provide for and fund grazing zones, even if the herdsmen are purely private business men. Also, federal government has in addition to offering to compensate victims of the insurgency, rebuild schools and other public institutions, built Almajiri schools, launched a safe-schools initiative at flash points in the North and other gestures to the Northern area.
That is why to insist that five per cent be appropriated constitutionally for the three Northern zones as reward for the protracted insurgency, is asking for too much. Instead, such a fund should be to address national disasters like unanticipated natural and man-made disasters of disturbing pedigree. It should not be to reward silence against terrorism, which eventually emboldened Boko Haram
My Agony is that some Northern elements are demanding from the oil bearing states, statements of account on how the 13 percent derivation money has been spent over the years, as a condition for any upward review. It is only in Nigeria that, an accidental passenger in a fishing boat, decides how the fishermen must appropriate their catch. “Bukulo Korobo Inji die Ke.”.
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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