NIGER DELTA IS ENTITLED TO 100% RESOURCE CONTROL AS SERIAKE YOUTHS VANGUARD PAYS A COURTESY VISIT TO BAYELSA SOCIAL MEDIA CHIEF.
Bayelsa State Social Media Chief Comrade John Idumange has said that the Niger Delta is entitled to 100% resource control or fiscal federalism. The Social Media Chief bared his mind when group of Seriake Youths Vanguard for Good Governance paid him a Courtesy visit today. The spokesman of the Group Mr. Youdiowei Ebikibena said they were in his office to appreciate the work of the Social Media in projecting the achievements of the Restoration Administration.
The Seriake Youth Vanguard also thanked the Social Media Chief for providing a robust support base for the President Jonathan administration and urged the Social Media infrastructure to push for true federalism, including fiscal federalism so the Niger Delta will have a fair share of the oil resources being produced by the people.
The Group lamented the rising unemployment, lack of industrialization, and inability of people to invest in the Region and the environmental challenges facing the Region, adding that only a regime of fiscal federalism can resolve these anomalies and create a sense of equity in the land.
Responding, Comrade Idumange John thanked the Seriake Youth Vanguards for the visit and assured them that the National Conference is set to discuss the matter elaborately and arrive at a positive conclusion. He said, if Nigeria was a true federalism, then the federating units should be guaranteed financial autonomy so each State can develop at its own pace.
He explained that as the Constitution is today, the fiscal laws in Nigeria tend to give more powers to the centre than the federating units. In fact, there is increased dependency of the States on the Federal Government because most States can ill-afford to generate 10% of revenues needed to run their States. Idumange said, there were so many obnoxious laws in Nigeria that vitiate the prosperity of the Nigeria Delta. Foremost among them are the Land Use Act of 1978, as amended and the Petroleum Act of 1969 as amended.
He lamented that the whittling down, over the years of the derivation principle in the allocation of revenue is a way of denying the Oil Producing Niger Delta Region its rights. Oil Producing areas remain the most under-developed areas of the Country because the Region lacks modern infrastructure such as roads, medical facilities, electricity and when this combines with the delicate ecology and its attendant environmental challenges, the problems can better be imagined.
Federalism is a Union of States under a central government distinct from that of the separate states, which retain certain individual powers under the central government. It is a system of government in which power is divided between a central authority and constituent political units.
That is why it is described as self-rule and shared rule. Self-rule in the sense of the component units exercising some measure of autonomy and shared – rule because the component units share some powers with the centre.
Resource Control is one of the tenets of true federalism.
It is a manifestation of federalism and one of the strategies to encourage productivity and catalyze development among the component units. In fact, in a federal system; the component units are autonomous and have the right to control their resources. The units can only pay tax to the centre.
It is only in Nigeria’s federalism that all manner of criteria that defy commonsense and logic are used to allocate resources by the centre. It is Resource Control that defines federalism. As it is now, Nigeria appears to be practicing unitary federalism. The Centre is heavy while the States are lean.
This should not be so. Every month the States go cap in hand begging the Centre for revenue. Revenue allocation issues appear to be the most tortuous issues surrounding boundary disputes. A true federalism will solve that problem and the struggle for State and Local Government creation will abate. Ordinarily, most of the matters on the exclusive list should be the responsibility of States.
The attitude of the Northern leaders toward resource control is strange. What beagles my mind with subtlety is whether they are looking at crude oil alone. We have 34 solid mineral resources, which can be exported in commercial quantity.
Resource control also means that all resources including solid mineral resources that abound in the North will be controlled by those States. One may recall that resource control was 100% during the heyday of the groundnuts pyramids and when Cocoa was the economic mainstay of Nigeria in the North and West respectively.
The West used cocoa to fund free education and had a head-start in Western education.
The reward for producing oil for the Niger Delta is environmental degradation, ecological annihilation, the infernos of hell called gas flaring; sea shore erosion, silting of the soil, oil pollution which has rendered our land infertile.
The people of the Niger Delta now suffer enormous biodiversity loss among some long term health hazards.
Comrade Idumange assured the Seriake Youths Vanguard that the National CONFAB should as a matter of priority address the issue of fiscal federalism for purposes of equity, sustainable development and to lift the Region from the pervasive morass of poverty, environmental degradation and improve the quality of lives of the people. “There is hope for the Niger Delta Region for accelerated development.
True fiscal Federalism is real federalism. We must practice what we preach. Inequity has brought untold hardship to the oil producing areas. Resource control is extremely important since it affects administrative responsibility and the political balance and significantly and by extension a basic determinant of our development, our future and our hope, Idumange remarked!
May 16th, 2014