That S’Court’s Verdict On Oil Revenue

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Obviously pacified by the Supreme Court’s landmark judgement recently, ordering the Federal Government to adjust the sharing of proceeds from the sale of crude oil whenever the price exceeds $20 per barrel benchmark, three littoral states in the Niger Delta region, namely, Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom States may have heaved a huge sigh of relief over perceived marginalisation of the region in the Nigerian project.
By implication, the oil-producing states and local government areas will garner substantial revenue from crude oil sales; especially against the backdrop of the latest report by the Presidency that Nigeria got $1.1 trillion from oil in 28 years.
The apex court’s ruling was sequel to suit No. SC/964/2016 filed on behalf of the three aforementioned oil-producing states by their attorneys-general seeking the interpretation of section 162 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
A seven-man panel which included the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen in a unanimous ruling ordered that the 13 percent derivation due to oil-producing states be paid upon recovery in accordance with Section 162 of the Constitution.
Apparently irked by what they earn from oil proceeds, the plaintiffs approached the court in November, 2017 for proper interpretation of section 16 (1) of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act. The suit was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by Mr. Lucius Nwosu (SAN).
While delivering the judgement, Justice John Okoro ordered the Federal government to immediately embark on an upward review and adjustment of the shares of revenue accruing to the Federal government and the states concerned whenever the price of crude oil exceeds $20 per barrel.
The Tide, indeed, commends Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom States for the courage and boldness in seeking constitutional interpretation of the relevant sections of the sharing contract law and particularly the exemplary and landmark judgement which has, in no small measure, affirmed the independence of the judiciary over constitutional matters.
The verdict evidently and clearly shows that in a constitutional democracy such as ours, the judiciary remains the bastion of hope for the citizenry, and the federating units.
The Niger Delta people have, over the years, been traumatised, marginalised and victimised in the Nigerian state, especially against the backdrop that the region produces the bulk of the nation’s wealth, with little or nothing to show for their natural endowments.
Perhaps, this informs why there have been persistent agitations for true and fiscal federalism rather than the prevailing skewd system which does not impact on the wellbeing of the federating states or regions. Maybe, that is why the clamour for restructuring of Nigeria has heightened lately.
The Tide, therefore, implores the Federal government to respect and expedite the process of executing the Supreme Court’s ruling without further delay.
While we whole-heartedly welcome the court’s verdict, we strongly believe that the ruling will be a watershed that would positively impact on the lives and wellbeing of Niger Delta people in the larger Nigerian State. The judgement will, for sure, boost the revenue of the oil-producing states and local government councils.
We expect that the Federal Government, the three states involved and the oil companies will do the needful by implementing the contractual obligations as enshrined in the extant law.
The Tide also condemns, in the strongest terms, the managements of major oil companies which collude with government officials to under-develop the oil-bearing communities and the people who have suffered untold hardship due to the devastation of their environment.
These economic saboteurs must no longer be allowed to have their way.
We see the Excess Crude Account as a platform employed by successive administrations to garner more revenue from oil proceeds towards further impoverishing the oil-producing communities and this must stop forthwith.