First Republic Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Clark, on Wednesday, berated governors of oil and gas producing states for appropriating 13 per cent derivation fund, totalling N7.282tn in 13 years, meant for the producing communities, without any impact.
The elder statesman stated this after he was briefed by the leadership of the oil producing communities, who paid a courtesy call on him in Warri, Delta State, to intimate him with developments in the affected areas.
Led by Chief Wellington Okrika, the delegation from the oil and gas producing communities of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Edo and Ondo states, said that the Federal Government paid out over N7.282tn in the past 13 years as 13 per cent derivation fund to the oil producing communities. However, the delegation said there was nothing on ground in the affected communities to â€œshow for it.â€
Recalling the process that led to the grant of 13 per cent derivation to oil producing communities, Clark said he was at the head of the struggle that exerted pressure during the 1994/95 Constitutional Conference and during the drafting of the 1999 Constitution, which he said led to the concession.
He said, â€œIt was the agitation from the leaders and people of the oil and gas producing communities that made the Federal Government to entrench the 13 per cent derivation fund in the 1999 Constitution to pacify the communities.
â€œSection 162 (2) of the Constitution which provides for the payment of derivation fund as first line charge, did not say that the payment should be made through any state government to the oil producing communities.
â€œIt (fund) was created by the Federal Government to address infrastructural deficit and neglect of the oil and gas producing communities; the 13 per cent derivation fund belongs to the producing communities. The 13 per cent derivation fund to the producing communities will bring development to those communities much faster.â€
Okirika, while expressing the delegationâ€™s appreciation, commended the host for his leadership role, both in the Niger Delta area and in the country as a whole. He, therefore, called for the setting up of a National Derivation Committee on the 13 per cent derivation fund by the Federal Government. He said this should come with state implementation committees to be set up for the management of the fund on behalf of oil and gas producing communities.