Agreed, the 1963 constitution advocated, provided for and applied the principle of Derivation. Its insertion must be informed then by the period of learning and gaining experience of living together and perhaps the desire to lay a solid foundation for the Unity in Diversity.
Also, the comparative advantage of component was not much different from the others. The size of population was also relatively small. Oil was not discovered. Similarly, the country’s solid minerals were not explored either. Even at that, the Northern part of the country was giving money to help its sister regions to balance their budget. Aware of the paucity of resources of the Niger-Delta, the then Federal Government under the responsible leadership of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the Right Honourable Gentleman set up the Niger-Delta Development Commission. It was/is on record that the initial oil development industry was funded by the resources from the “Arid North”. And, the development was expanded by Dr. Maitama Sule, the first oil minister. The Second Oil Minister was Dr. Ali Monguno who carried out the sustained development while General Muhammadu Buhari designed its long term modernization as the Chairman of NNPC. The trio were never attracted by material acquisition as against what is currently obtained today.
Under the humane, focused, honest, patriotic and Nationalistic leadership of General Yakubu Gowon, the avoidable Civil war necessitated the creation of 12 states from 4 regions which he had inherited. The minority elements within the regions that were swallowed at one time by the bigger sharks were liberated and independence conferred on them. Subsequent regimes headed by responsible Northern Nigerians continued to create more states from 12 to 36 excluding the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. They did not stop at that, they went further to create 774 Local Government Areas to ensure devolution of powers and de-centralization of Authority to pave way for effective even development in the country and indeed allay fears of the minority groups.
Let me return to the Creation of the South-South states and their unfair call for Resource-Control. Talking personally, I believe such kind of call is not only acutely selfish but unequivocally unpatriotic and lacks sense of History. It may be recalled that during the civil-war, the only part of the country that was absolutely committed to its execution and keeping the country one, united, indivisible and indissoluble was the North. The North made the Supreme sacrifice by its blood and funds from the sale of Groundnuts to prosecute the war to its logical end and keep the country together. Not for its own exclusive benefits but for the common good to all Nigerians without exception. Had Nigeria lost that war, the South-South states would not have been around. This is a common knowledge, and it is therefore needless to go into details for lack of space. Negotiations to mortgage the existing oil wells were on going with France by the Rebel leadership when the Federal Government torpedoed and stopped such a wishful adventure.
However, sustained use of superior fire power eventually crushed the rebels’ resistance and they were forced to surrender to the “forces of unity”. General Gowon not only made the declaration of General Amnesty to the rebels but also declared that there was “No Victor nor Vanquished”; how magnanimous in victory? It would have been a different story if the victory had gone the other way. As a follow up to his magnanimity and kind heartedness, he also set up the National Commission for Rehabilitation, Reintegration and Reconciliation. In no time, the open and gaping wounds of the civil war were healed though not forgotten.
The North stamped out the rebellion and conquered the East and liberated the South-South. This is a historical fact.
i.) Conquered the East and liberated the South-South. Under the normal procedure of conquest, the conquered territory would have been serfdom of the other parts of the Country.
ii.) It is therefore normal for the Conqueror to take over/take control of all resources on the surface as well as underground of the conquered territory. But is not so in Nigeria because we have accepted to live as brothers and sisters of the same family.
iii.) While properties left behind in the North by the fleeing Igbo during the civil war were happily returned to the Igbo-owners plus accrued rental incomes, that is not so in the Niger-Delta in order not to get the new states of the South-South submerged and subjugated by their more aggressive and powerful neighbours. All these measures were taken to help the South-South to be their own “Masters” in their areas. In the light of all these measures deliberately designed and taken and put into effect to give the good people of the South-South the freedom of action and conscience. Yet the people of the South-South states remain most ungrateful to the North and worse still grudging the ripples which the Northern States are getting from the flowing ocean of oil monies which are God deposited without the sweat of anybody. It is my humble but considered opinion that the North, the Giant in the Sun and now the Northern States, deserves a permanent, undiluted appreciation – quid pro quo.
The Constitutional Conference of 1994-5 during the Sani Abacha regime deliberated very bitterly on the question of Resource-Control moved by Dan Etete who later became the oil minister and owner of Malebo oil block. It may be a matter of interest and pride to know that the past oil ministers – Dr Maitama Sule, Dr. Ali Monguno, General Muhammadu Buhari, Dr. Tam David West and Dr Okoibo never took nor owned a barrel of oil. Nor did they have any interest/stake in any Oil Company then and now; this is a clear difference in leadership. – “Think what you can do for your country and not what your country can do for you.” – J.F. Kennedy.
That motion on Resource Control moved by Dan Etete became still borne. It crashed and embarrassingly evaporated into thin air. None of the Nigerian delegates to the Conference from the states supported it. However, in consideration of the importance of the “golden hen that lays the golden egg”, the Conference set up a Committee which recommended not more than 13% derivation to the oil producing areas. It is hugely regrettable that in spite of the 13% plus other Developmental Agencies for the Niger-Delta – (Ministry of Niger-Delta, NDDC, OMPADEC etc) and other deliberate grants doled out to the South-South at whim by the powers that be, which made the Niger-Delta awash with money while the other federating components are left wallowing in the Ocean of Misery, yet the South-South states are not satisfied with what they are getting. How unpatriotic and ungrateful.
Like any responsible Nigerian, the C.B.N. Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, apparently dissatisfied with the current revenue allocation to the states, bared his mind in the presence of the Rivers State Governor in Port Harcourt at a Gala Night organized by the state government. Sanusi is known for his clear, honest, frank and unyielding commitment to social justice and adherence to the Principle of Justice and Fair play long before he was appointed CBN Governor by Late Malam Umaru Musa Yar’adua, the then President of Nigeria. Sanusi is a gifted intellectual, with sharp and incisive analytical mind. He is fearless, brutally frank anywhere and wherever and under any circumstances he finds himself. He speedily and readily carpets his opponents to the pleasure of his admirers and well-wishers.
The CBN Governor was a Special Guest to the Rivers State Government gala night during which he put it straight to the gover
nor and others that the current Resource-Allocation has made the Northern states suffer most. The CBN Governor compared and revealed that the revenue allocated to the most populous state in the country, Kano State stood at N285Bn while Rivers with a very small population pocketing awesome amount of N1.052Trn for the same period – from 2008-9. Sanusi cited “some states in Nigeria seem to be having problems with too much money while others have problems with too little”. In other words, this selfish and inward looking Resource-Allocation formula has succeeded in creating SUPER RICH STATES and SUPER POOR STATES in the same country. This unhealthy and skewed Resource Allocation seriously contradicts the five Principal national objectives of the National Development Plan which seeks to establish Nigeria firmly as: and I quote:
a just and egalitarian society;
a united, strong and self reliant nation;
a great and dynamic economy;
a land of bright and full opportunities for all citizens; and
a free and democratic society.
This skewed Resource Allocation has the potential of creating socio-economic instability leading to political instability and persistent unrest within the polity. In addition to this unhappy situation, there are at least 40 million able-bodied Nigerians mostly graduates and post graduates excluding the semi and unskilled youths roaming the streets without a job from which they can earn a means of daily livelihood. Added to this hopelessly glooming picture, most if not all our infrastructures have collapsed and are unlikely to be fixed in no distant future. Also, the trustees of the National “liquid and fixed assets” are adding too much salt to the gaping wounds. Corruption reigns supreme unabated. The Agencies set up to fight corruption to a standstill have not been adequately supported and funded and worse still undermined by the Judiciary, the so called last hope of the Common Man. Indefinite injunctions are granted to the Culprits at pittance and subsequently allowed to enjoy their loot and are saluted as heroes by the same public they cheated and deceived.
In another breath, however, Sanusi has ably predicted a clear glimpse of hope (all is not lost) not only for this potentially Great Country but more so for the “Poor Northern States”, if only the Federal Government is very serious in bringing back the Socio-economic equilibrium of the Country by helping and “forcing” the Northern States to consciously invest heavily in their respective solid minerals. Sanusi has cracked his brain and worked out the price of Gold metal including iron on 10/5/11 this year and came out with a handsome figure of N16 trillion which can easily be in the till of the Federal Government. In a nutshell, Sanusi is saying both the FG and the “Arid and Poor Northern States” will have more money in their respective public treasuries than the South-South States who are now awash with money spilling all over the Counters and Personal Pockets, if the deposits of solid minerals are painstakingly tapped and developed.
Sanusi has not stopped there but has gone ahead to challenge the Governors of Northern States to go back to basics; Agriculture, the pride of any nation, for no country however rich can be worth its name if it cannot feed itself. Interestingly, the Northern States with their terribly poor show in support of Agriculture, they still feed the nation as almost 95% of food requirement of the South-East, South-West and South-South has been coming from the “Arid Northern States”. For the North to wake up and take its pride of place in Agriculture, manufacture and Sustained development of Agriculture, we badly and desperately need good, responsible, committed, honest and focused leaders who can and will serve their people with one single mind and derive happiness and satisfaction while rendering such selfless service. For which The Late Sir Ahmadu Bello, the 1st and Only Premier of Northern Nigeria is always fondly remembered for, with Pride and Respect by a vast majority of the people in the North.
Sanusi went further to say that the mineral resources in the North, mostly solid minerals which experts say could bring in more revenue than oil, has remained largely untapped. Let the Federal Government and the Northern states therefore put their heads together to ensure the development of these expansive huge deposits of solid minerals in their respective areas. This is a task that must be done and accomplished if we really and genuinely need political stability which will certainly usher in peaceful co-existence, progress and socio-economic development throughout the country. This development of solid minerals should go hand-in-hand with Agricultural development. But together, it will translate into sustainable socio-economic growth which leads to unhindered industrialization and eventually throws Nigeria into the orbit of 20 highly developed countries in the world by 2020 or there about as envisaged by the authorities that be.
In the light of the foregoing factual observations, it is my personal and candid opinion that for the country to be stable, peaceful and development oriented, Nigeria needs men of vision and commitment to its indivisibility and indissolubility to review the present/current Resource allocation and come out with a most fair and equitable revenue allocation formula for the relative satisfaction of its components.
Let Nigerians if we honestly and sincerely need one another to look into the future and ignore the past (principle of derivation as provided for in the 1963 constitution). I sincerely believe that had the founding fathers got uninterrupted long period of governance, such a derivation principle would have been jettisoned and reviewed in the overall interest of the country. Oil and gas, solid minerals etc are “God-given” deposits for free and securely buried in the ground. They are described as a wasting asset, which disappears through its constant exploitation after a period of time. Agriculture on the other hand is a renewable asset and certainly a sustainer of life. Land is also a finite resource and so is water. So, let all Nigerians be more broad-minded, more accommodating to one another so that we can together swim or sink. Once we are together, we will swim together and fly together to any given destination safely and happily too. Let us look forward with Hope, Faith and Courage. What is yours today may be someone else’s tomorrow. So why quarrel?
Sani Zangon Daura was Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources