National Confab In Disarray Over Issues Of Derivation, Revenue Sharing

National Confab In Disarray Over Issues Of Derivation, Revenue Sharing

By ThisDay on July 11, 2014
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Confab Nigeria restructuring
File Photo: Delegates at the National Conference, Abuja in 2014

The National Conference again on Thursday, July 10, 2014 failed to resolve the contentious issues of the derivation principle and revenue sharing formula contained in the report of its Committee on Power Devolution and Political Restructuring, forcing a second adjournment till Monday.

Following the stalemate on what form the recommendation on derivation would take, the chairman of the conference, Justice Idris Kutigi, announced that the leadership of the conference will be meeting with the “50 Wise Men” comprising chairmen and deputy chairmen of the 20 committees today.

However, there were indications yesterday that the northern governors met with the delegates from the region to strengthen their resolve against the derivation principle.

THISDAY gathered that the governors took the opportunity of the National Council of State meeting in Abuja on Tuesday to hold a secret meeting with the northern delegates during which they gave them marching orders not to shift grounds on the issue of derivation.

The governors were said to have also backed the delegates with the necessary funds to ensure that they do not cave in to any lobby or pressure on the matter.

It all started when at the resumption of yesterday’s plenary, the deputy chairman of the conference, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, called on the leaders of the Consensus Committee led by Chief Raymond Dokpesi.

However, a northern delegate and a member of the consensus committee, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu, rose to protest the presentation of the report, saying the northern representatives did not sign the document.

Dalhatu said they were against some aspects of the amendment and they needed to have further negotiations so that it could be harmonised.

He also raised objections to the inclusion to the list of signatories certain names of delegates who he claimed were not originally part of the consensus-building group.

At this stage, Akinyemi accepted the request by Dalhatu and adjourned discussions on the power devolution committee report for one hour to allow the consensus group meet again to reconcile issues and to take a vote on the matter.

After about two hours of deliberations, the conference asked the consensus group to come forward and address the delegates on their decision.

But as Dokpesi was making his way with the document to present it to the deputy chairman, a former Inspector General of Police (IG), Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie, rose up to disown it. He said they could not agree on some of the issues.

Coomassie said: “There was no agreement. Any report submitted to this plenary session on this derivation by the Consensus Committee does not have our endorsement.”

Another member of the Consensus Committee and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Olu Falae, however, stood up to counter Coomassie, stating that the former IG had been part of the negotiations that sought to end the logjam on derivation and resource allocation issues.

Amidst protests by some northern delegates, Falae insited the group had actually reached an agreement and went ahead to read out the contents of the document.

He said the agreement reached was to increase the derivation formula from 13 per cent to 18 per cent. Other resolutions included that there shall be a Solid Mineral Development Fund of five per cent, and a five per cent National Emergency Fund to be set aside for reconstruction in the North-east and any area affected by the insurgency and disasters in the country.

“I have been part of the committee that has been meeting and we have come to some consensus. But there is just one sticky point which is not something that should smear the recommendation,” he said.

Also collaborating Falae’s submission, Dokpesi who later addressed reporters outside the plenary, explained that the leaders of the delegates from the six geopolitical zones had agreed to present an amendment that would provide for an increase in the derivation payable to oil producing states from 13 per cent to 18 per cent of revenue accruing to the Federation Account and that not less than 50 per cent of the total derivation fund accruable to mineral bearing states shall be allocated to the communities where the mineral resource is located.

Another aspect of the amendment provided for an increase in the Solid Mineral Development Fund from three per cent to five per cent of revenues in the Federation Account to be used for the development of solid minerals.

But Dokpesi said that the bone of contention was the proposal for an intervention fund, which amounts to five per cent of annual revenue accruing to the federation that will be used for the stabilisation, rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas affected by terrorism and the insurgency; in the first instance, the North-east and then the North-west and North-central zones, and other parts of the country.

According to him, some northern delegates, mostly representatives of the North-west zone, said they would rather that the fund is specifically reserved for the reconstruction of insurgency areas of the North-east, North-west and North-central zones, and excludes other sections of the country.

This, he said, ran contrary to the general agreement to use the fund to deal with intervention measures in any area affected by terror attacks in the country.

Among the protesters were Dr. Haruna Yerima from Borno State, who drew the attention of the delegates to the ballot boxes brought by the secretariat, saying that the delegates had no alternative than to cast their votes on the issue.

Yerima, backed by some fellow northern delegates said: “This issue of voice vote must stop, we are going to cast our votes.”
But his protest caused an uproar, as many delegates opposed the use of the ballot box.

After fruitless efforts to calm frayed nerves could not yield results, Kutigi called for an adjournment of the plenary session till Monday to allow the secretariat to intervene on the matter.

He said from today, the leadership of the conference would be meeting with the 50 selected delegates comprising the chairmen and deputy chairmen of the various committees.

Meanwhile, the conference encountered another controversy over the status of the local government councils under the revenue sharing formula.

When it came to the passage of the new revenue sharing formula, which proposes 42.5 per cent for the federal government; 35 per cent for states; and 22.5 per cent for local governments, Akinyemi said the local government arm will be dropped from the sharing formula, having been moved under the states.

Akinyemi explained that having adopted the recommendation to transfer local governments to state control, the implication was that local councils would no longer be part of the national revenue sharing arrangement.

However, a delegate, Senator Dansaldau, raised a point order saying that the local government is a recognised institution under the constitution and as such cannot be dropped from the exclusive list.

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