A coalition of Niger Delta women organisations has urged the Federal Government to henceforth pay the 13 per cent derivation funds directly to oil and gas producing communities in the region instead of state governors.
“We demand, as a matter of urgent national importance, that the Federal Government should stop, forthwith, the monthly allocation of 13 per cent Derivation Funds through our respective state governors,” the group stated as one of its three demands.
National President of the Society for the Protection of Women Welfare in Oil and Gas Producing States, Princess Nonwen Uhunmwangho, made the demands on behalf of the women during the fact-finding visit of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to Edo State in Benin.
The women, who lauded the FG for its policies, also demanded that “the Federal Government’s anti-corruption campaign should be very proactive in addressing the monumental frauds that had bedeviled the administration of the 13 per cent Derivation Fund in the past 17 years of its implementations.”
They, therefore, urged the Federal Government to set up national derivation board in its effort to make its anti-corruption campaign more people friendly.
Denouncing the present mode of payment as unacceptable, the women added, “As mothers, we see the current practice where 13 per cent Derivation Fund is being allocated through a third party as the height of administrative aberration that has left the oil and gas producing communities who are the legitimate and exclusive beneficiaries in ravaging poverty, hunger, penury and this has greatly influenced the high level militancy in the oil and gas rich region of the Niger Delta.
It is instructive to note that from the provision of section 162 (2) it is clear that the principle of 13 per cent derivation is firmly enshrined in the 1999 Constitution that in whatever formula the National Assembly approved it must constantly reflect 13 per cent derivation.
Therefore, 13 per cent derivation fund is the first line charge on the Federation Account, it is a mandatory provision of the 1999 constitution.
Accordingly, the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended recognised the oil and gas producing communities as the actual owners of the 13 per cent derivation fund.
As a fact, oil and gas producing communities are where oil exploration/exploitation and production activities are being carried out, leading to monumental environmental degradation, pollution, health hazard, loss of fishing rights and lots of productive farm lands
It should be noted sir, that since the Federal Government collects oil revenue from the oil and gas producing communities directly it is not proper for the same federal government to delegate the responsibilities of ameliorating the devastation caused by the production activities to another tier of government.
Accordingly, we the women of the Niger Delta affirmed that to continue to pay 13 per cent derivation fund to state government is illegal, unconstitutional, inconsistent with the principle of derivation as enshrined in the 1999 constitution and not consistent with the principles of separation of powers as 13 per cent derivation fund remain in the Exclusive Legislative List.”