Revenue allocation: Northern demand, South-South threats

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VANGUARD newspaper has faithfully reported the anger, insults and threats from the South-South, apropos of the demand made by Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum,Aliyu Babangida, for a review of the extant Revenue Allocation Formula.

The responses have been vitriolic, cutting across governors, legislators, and the so-called ‘ex-militants’. In truth, for as long as we share the same space of citizenship, then every part of the country has a legitimate right to make demands, assumed to be for the betterment of all the Nigerian people.

As a Political Scientist, I was taught that politics is the authoritative allocation of values; and invariably, there are conflicts, as different sections of the elite around the country struggle to get a slice of the national cake.  Many have also argued for development of resources from all parts of the country, to break the dependence on the rentier culture, tied to oil-based revenue.

It is a laudable argument, but if the present situation persists, it is legitimate for all sides to seek for more. We can however temper disagreement in more decent language and decorous attitude. Threatening others about “our oil”, or pouring opprobrium on whole regions of the country is unacceptable in decent society.

I do not underrate the environmental degradation visited upon the oil-producing areas, in over fifty years of oil exploration; neither do I accept the deep poverty and privations suffered by our compatriots from oil-bearing communities. The Nigerian state has been in cahoots with transnational oil companies, largely ignoring the negative effects of exploration as they took out petroleum products, which translated to fabulous wealth.

The beneficiaries have largely been members of the Nigerian ruling class, spread all over the country. Practically every Nigerian today recognises the needs of the peoples of the oil-producing areas to reclamation of the environment; greater empowerment of its peoples; injection of more resources for infrastructure and human capital development.

Pursuit to that even the culpable Nigerian state’s hand was moved: 13 percent Derivation; NDDC; Ministry of the Niger Delta; private money from oil companies; Amnesty funds plus the highest percentage of Nigeria’s capital budget for 2012, for example! But all other Nigerian states need the same developments, including and especially the North! That is not what a lot of those who read these lines in the South want to hear but that is the truth. For as long as we share the space of nationhood together, resources found in Nigeria, will have to be used to develop all of Nigeria.

Today, it is oil from the Niger Delta; it will be something else tomorrow. That is why we cannot afford the chauvinism bordering on threats and indecorous language which many individuals from the Niger Delta regularly deploy as part of the arsenal of argument!


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