Confab Commotion Over Oil Revenue Is “Understandable” – Wale Oshun
Appearing as a guest on Sunrise Daily, Oshun noted that the rowdy session witnessed on Thursday was necessary as “there is no way (that) an issue of this nature will be discussed and will not have a lot of emotions”. According to him, the bone of contention was money.
While explaining the situation, Oshun said the Oil producing States have insisted on a 50 per cent derivation as a first line charge on the Federation Account, however, some delegates advocated that the increase should be installmental in order to cushion the effect on other States which had always depended on oil revenue.
Hence, a kick-off percentage of 21 to 25 was proposed. However, some delegates from the North insisted that the status quo (13 per cent) be maintained.
Further deliberations led to several factions proposing different percentages including, 15, 18 and 21.
“At some point in time, many of us felt that 18 would be a fair game,” Oshun said, noting that delegates were also considering setting aside five per cent of the oil revenue to develop mineral resources in all States of the Federation.
Oshun admitted that if the problem of resource control was solved, 80 per cent of the nation’s problems, including unemployment, insurgency, would have been solved.
Trap Of Sharing Mentality
However, he maintained that complications arose when some delegates from the North came in “with a proposal to have five per cent set aside as what they call a crisis management fund, that would be given directly to the North East, North central and maybe parts of the North West, because of the on-going insurrection.
This fund, would be in addition to funds already set aside by the Federal Government to manage crisis in parts of the country.
He highlighted that Nigeria had become over dependent on oil revenue and had hence “fallen into a trap of a sharing mentality” and “without generating income, every part of the country wants a share of what does not belong to them”.
He explained that the Niger Deltans, whose land oil is extracted from, have endured the adverse effect of the exercise, including environmental damages, unsatisfactory social development while other parts of the country claimed the deposit belonged to everyone and should be shared amongst all.
In Oshun’s opinion, the solution to the problem is for all States to have total control on all resources.
“This country, in so many diverse ways is blessed. I am told that Nasarawa State alone sits atop of more than 33 minerals and each one of them is a revenue generator.”
He opined that the resources were left untapped, because “our leaders are used to the cheap way out of gathering once a month, talking about FAAC, about sharing oil money”.
This trend, Oshun maintained “creates its own difficulty because there are many missing gaps. There’s this sense of right that each one of us, whether from Lagos to Ogun, Sokoto and to Borno State, feel that we are entitled to”.
He noted that the issues at stake were much more complex, hence the emotional outbursts may continue.
The National Conference delegates are expected to reconvene on Monday and the the issue is also expected to top discussions. It is hoped that the issue would be resolved to enable the conference, expected to end in July, wind down.