*Survey Results From Collated Field Data Show Why The South South Geo-political Zone Are Demanding A Direct Disbursement of 13% Derivation Fund to Host Oil Producing Communities As A first line Charge, As Provided in the 1999 Constitution.
By Hamilton Nwosa (Head, The New Diplomat’s Polling, Research & Data Desk. With Field Reports from our South-South Bureau team including Akanimore Kufre & Amaechi Prosper )
With fresh dynamics cresting high in the volatile Niger Delta region over renewed calls by Host Oil Producing Communities of Nigeria(HOSTCON) for a direct disbursement of 13% derivation fund to host oil-producing communities as a first line charge (as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution),HOSTCON appears to have won the heart of the vast majority of the peoples of the South-South zone (81%) as the initiative has received widespread boost among stakeholders in the six constituent states of the South South geo-political zone.
Notable Niger Delta monarch and first military governor of Rivers state, Amayanabo of Twon-Brass, Chief Alfred Diete-Spiff in collaboration with pioneer Chairman of DESOPADEC who is the Bolowei of Gbaramatu kingdom, Chief Wellington Okrika, among other top-notch South South leaders who are advocating for equity, development and fairness for host oil communities had recently renewed their calls for a direct release of 13 per cent derivation fund to oil bearing communities rather than to states governments in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the Federal government gazette on the subject matter.
According to most South- South elders and leaders of the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers (RNDA), the current practice whereby a wholesome 13% derivation fund is released to various states governments is flawed with severe set-backs and unmitigated inequity which have repeatedly thrown up crisis, violence and escalating tension in the various oil-bearing communities of the South South region.
According to the elders and members of the RNDA , some states in the South South created very opaque vehicles supposedly to deliver the funds to host communities but sadly the funds end up being deployed inappropriately for goals that are ethically different from those of the host oil- producing communities.
At another level, some states governments, according to Niger Delta activists and stakeholders under the auspices of the RNDA, have not been able to establish a transparent demarcation between host communities 13 percent derivation funds and state government allocations.
The consequence: There are no clearly defined and transparent state government vehicles to deliver on the 13% derivation that is legally meant for host oil producing communities. This has consequently triggered a plethora of unresolved questions, crisis , inter and intra-ethnic wars, bickering escalated by mounting tension over the 13 per cent derivation across the entire South-South geo-political zone over the years.
This move was further heightened with trenchant demands and incisive agitations by the militant RNDA for an urgent revisit of the disbursement process of the 13% derivation formula, stressing that henceforth derivation funds to Oil-producing communities should be released straightly to host Oil-producing communities as already enshrined in the 1999 Constitution as first line charge.
According to the RNDA, the practice of channeling the 13 percent via states to host communities has produced an unacceptable regime of inappropriate deployment of the funds for purposes totally different from that which it is legally, constitutionally and ethically meant for. The militants say, releasing the 13% Derivation to the state governments amounts to stabbing the Constitution on its head, and escalating an unacceptable, illegal reign of leaving Oil-producing communities to bleed endlessly.
The RNDA recently voiced its disapproval of the payment process thus: “More importantly, we call for an emergency review of the Revenue Allocation Act in order to give proper interpretation of the 13 per cent derivation funds that will not be deposited in the hands of … Niger Delta governors that have been pocketing the billions of naira on monthly basis from the federation allocation account without getting to the oil producing communities in the creeks of the Niger Delta and without any accountability to the long neglected oil producing communities that are the original owners of the 13 per cent derivation funds , according to section 162 sub section 2 of the 1991 constitution as amended.…”
In a chat with The New Diplomat recently, Chief Okrika narrated how oil producing communities fought and won the battle for 13% Derivation during the regime of late Gen Sanni Abacha, leading to it being gazetted as a first line charge, a priority release directly to oil and gas producing communities. Chief Okrika, said this allocation principle was further enshrined in the 1999 Constitution as Section 162(2) .
Chief Okrika explained: “Therefore, 13% derivation fund is no mana from heaven. Oil and gas communities fought for it. Where were the governors? Some of them were in school at that time or somewhere else. Therefore, the oil and gas communities must benefit from the 13% derivation fund because they fought for it.
“Now, 13% derivation fund, by the provision of Section 162(2) of the 1999 Constitution, becomes the first line charge on the federation account. The remaining 87% of the total oil revenue, is now shared by the federal government, the state government and the local government…
“Why would you now on earth, in view of natural justice and the provision in the constitution, pay a first line charge to a third line charge? What kind of madness is that? All first line charges are paid directly to the beneficiaries. Today, we are talking about the judiciary and National Assembly becoming beneficiaries because they have become first line charge. So, their money goes to them directly.”
Correspondingly, Okrika position was validated by stakeholders and leaders in the South South who shared their thoughts with The New Diplomat’s poll tracking team that visited all the six constituent states of the South-South, namely Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers.
However, there is another school of thought which seeks to expand on the above position. To this group, the approach being canvassed by the RNDA, HOSTCON, and South South leaders including Amayanabo of Twon-Brass, Chief Diete-Spiff and Chief Okrika, Bolowei of Gbaramatu and pioneer chairman of DESOPDEC is most desirable but needs National Assembly legal Protocol and instruments.
According to proponents of this position, a clear vehicle for delivering on the 13 percent derivation should be well spelt out by demanding proper legislative instruments on it. These exponents are in total agreement that the funds should be released directly, without deviation, to oil- bearing communities with a caveat that the National Assembly should give it legislative teeth.
Thus as the agitations for a 13 per cent derivation to be released duly to host oil producing communities assume intense and fierce dimensions, especially among various stakeholders of the South South zone, The New Diplomat polling and survey desk decided to sample respondents across the six constituent states of the South-South geo-political zone in order to aggregate their positions, perspectives and arrive at a verdict that represents the preponderant, dominant and ascendant position of stakeholders and peoples of the South South geo-political zone on the thorny subject matter.
The South-South Zone…
In the six states of the South South zone, most respondents sampled considered the subject matter as very crucial and were therefore very willing to participate in the field questionnaires administered as well as in the various focus groups discussions held in each of the states.
Thus, from the field statistical data tracked and analyzed by The New Diplomat’s Polling and Survey desk, only a very marginal 2% of sampled respondents were still undecided on the issue of 13% derivation as to whether the funds should be channeled precisely to host oil-producing communities who bear the full brunt of environmental degradation, despoliation, and devastation.
Going by the population figures and the demographics of each of the six south- south states as captured by either the National Bureau of Statistics(NBS) or the National population Commission (NPC), the dynamics as well as preponderance of agitations for a more equitable, direct disbursement of 13% derivation to host oil producing communities appear to resonate perfectly well among the locals and stakeholders who feel terribly short-changed by state government officials who allegedly sit in the comfort of their offices at state capitals, totally oblivious, unaware and blind to the environmental ruin, plundering, pollution and depredation that reign in oil-producing communities.
In Akwa-Ibom state, the projected demographic statistics stand at 5, 482,177(2016 NBS Data) while in Bayelsa state, the demographic statistics was put at 2, 277,961 (2016 NBS Data ). Cross River state on the other hand, has a projected population of 3,866,269(2016 NBS Data) while the projected demographic statistics of Delta state was put at 5, 663,362(2016 NBS Data). For Edo state, NBS projected its population as 4, 235,595(2016 NBS Data) and 7,303,924 was estimated as the demographic statistics of Rivers state (2016 NBS Data).
Given these demographics, what was therefore the dominant verdict of majority of respondents sampled? Put differently, what did the vast majority or bulk of sampled respondents think about channeling the 13% derivation directly to host oil producing communities of the South-South geo-political zone as a first line charge by the federal government?
The Dynamics At Play…
From field questionnaires administered randomly on stakeholders comprising locals, residents and inhabitants across the six south- south states namely Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River , Delta, Edo, and Rivers over the last one month, field data tracked, telephone calls made, interviews conducted, focus group discussions held by our team of data analysts, and data aggregators, 81% of South South people prefer a situation where the 13 per cent derivation funds are released directly to host oil-producing communities while 10 % believe it is better to maintain the existing structure, and 9% were simply indifferent to the subject matter, wanting some clarity of sort but were emphatic that the state governments were unacceptably short-changing Oil-producing communities.
Three per cent(3%) of sampled respondents wanted a proper clarification of the new structural initiative even though they said they were totally opposed to the prevailing setting where the 13 per cent derivation funds are reportedly deployed inappropriately by state governments thereby allegedly breeding a reign of injustice, inequity, tension and inappropriate utilization of funds.
Field reports also indicate that there are pent-up upset, perturbation, disconcertment and gale of militant agitations snaking in the volatile creeks of the Niger Delta waiting to erupt like a hurricane across the South South zone on account of rising discontent over what stakeholders called inappropriate management vehicle for the 13% derivation by South South states since the return to constitutional government in 1999.
The States: Actual Details, Trolls and Dynamics…
The New Diplomat’s Polling survey outcome based on defined metrics, show the current following dynamics in alphabetical order: Akwa Ibom state: Projected 79 % of sampled respondents want the 13% derivation taken away from the direct control of the state government and disbursed directly into the coffers of Oil-producing communities development vehicle as first line charge while 9 % say the prevailing status quo should be maintained, and 12 % are insistent on a proper definition of the community channel of disbursement to avoid a repeat of what they call “ the current woes of oil-bearing communities of the South South occasioned by reckless attitudes of the state government”.
In Bayelsa state, projected 81% of respondents say they are totally opposed to the state government as vehicle of disbursement, insisting in unambiguous terms that the 13 % derivation should be released duly to host oil-producing communities by the federal government as a first line charge. And 9% or respondents hold a different opinion, and 10% are of the view that the status should be upheld.
While in Cross River State, the situation was not significantly different as about 81% of respondents insist that the 13 % derivation should be disbursed as a first line charge precisely to a vehicle created for host oil-producing communities, completely independent of the Cross River state government control. Most sampled respondents accused some state government officials of perpetuating “ internal colonialism” by allegedly hijacking parts of the 13% derivation fund and deploying same inappropriately. About 12 per cent however believe that the state government, especially under previous administrations performed satisfactorily while 7% think otherwise.
In Delta state, the scenario is similar. Projected 81% of respondents maintain that they align perfectly with the position of HOSTCON to the effect that the 13% derivation fund should be released directly to host oil-producing communities vehicle by the federal government as a first line charge. However, 10% of sampled respondents are of the view that the prevailing status quo should be maintained while 9% assert that Oil-bearing community-driven channel of direct disbursement should be properly determined “to avoid a repeat of the current opaque institutional setting”.
Similarly, in Edo state, the bulk of stakeholders, totaling about 78% prefer direct disbursement to host oil-producing communities. While some aver that the current state government has accomplished some positive feats in oil-producing communities, majority of the people insist that the issues have to do with justice, equity, fairness and parity “as oil-producing communities who bear the plaque of environmental pollution and devastation need equity and fairness in the distribution of their resources.” And 12% are of the opinion that direct disbursement to Oil-producing communities should be well delineated to avoid a repeat of “ past mistake” just as 10% believe in the prevailing arrangement.
In Rivers state, vast preponderance of sampled respondents want a total break from what they considered as the state government’s “internal colonialism against host oil-producing communities” as 81% voted for a direct disbursement of the 13% derivation to oil-producing communities as a first line charge. However, 10% assert that the current scenario be upheld, and 9% want greater clarity, arguing that the National Assembly should be requested to legislate on it to make it a binding legal protocol in revenue allocation from the federation account.
These are the dynamics principally shaping the behavior of sampled respondents in Rivers state. This quite telling in a state like Rivers with projected gargantuan oil revenue receipts from the federation account as she won a recent case ceding some oil wells previously adjudged as belonging to Bayelsa state, to her.
The Survey methodology …
A total of 3, 000 questionnaires were distributed randomly in the six south-south states. The idea was to sample preponderance of respondents preferences across the six states with each state having 500 questionnaires. The New Diplomat’s Poll Trackers and Aggregators later proceeded to track, aggregate and analyze the various data obtained from the sampled respondents.
Correspondingly, our Poll Tracking Team developed a Hybrid Poll tracking methodology that combined different survey methods including field questionnaire method, data analysis, random sampling of key opinion leaders views, the locals preferences through focus group interviews, etc to arrive at our verdict. The survey was carried out within a duration of one month with our team covering the six states of the south-south zone. They visited various communities in the following states namely, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers .
The New Diplomat survey findings which reflect the sampled verdict of the dominant position of the people and stakeholders of the South South geo-political zone is as follows: 81% of South South people demand a situation where the existing 13 % derivation is released directly to host oil-producing communities as first line charge while 10 % of the people believe it is better to maintain the existing structure, and 9% were somewhat reserved, wanting more clarity by demanding that the National Assembly should be encouraged to legislate a direct disbursement legal protocol for host oil- producing communities to ensure a reign of sustained justice, equity, fairness and transparency in the affairs of host-oil producing communities of the South-South geo-political zone. On the whole, the South-South geo-political zone is demanding loudly that subsequent releases of the 13% Derivation fund by the federal government should be directly to the host oil-producing communities of the South-South.
+NB: The New Diplomat’s Poll Tracking team polled , tracked, aggregated and collated field data from across all the six states of the south-south geo-political zone. The data used here include population figures as determined by both NPC and NBS. Our Poll Tracking and Poll Aggregating Team developed a Hybrid Poll tracking methodology that combined different survey methods including field questionnaire, data analysis, random sampling of important figures, stakeholders views, locals preferences, focus group interviews, etc to arrive at our verdict.