Adjekpagbon Blessed Mudiaga captures in graphic detail the immediate reaction that greeted the governor’s suggestion that 13 per cent special revenue from petroleum resources be allocated to rebuild war raveged North-east
Few days after he was appointed Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, re-elected governor of Borno State, Kassim Ibrahim Shettima has waded into inflammable area of Nigeria politics by his recent demand for 13 per cent petroleum revenue for the North-east region that has been ravaged by insurgency.
The governor who made the demand to the incoming All Progressive Congress administration through a paper, which he delivered at Day-Two of a conference organised by the Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development (SCDDD), two days ago asserted that the current insurgency was the direct outcome of the inequality in oil revenue distribution.
At the conference themed ‘Post- 2015 Elections Conference on Security and Governance Challenges in Africa’s Largest Democracy’ organized by Bornu Elders Forum, the governor urged the incoming All Progressive Congress (APC) government to recommend as soon as possible the allocation of at least 13 per cent of revenue accrued from petroleum resources in addition to the usual monthly location to the states in north eastern Nigeria to alleviate their plight. Sooner had he quit the stage than a torrent of criticism followed him down the podium right to Maiduguri, the capital city of his home state. This is pure, misguided greed, many insist in reactions that has gone viral on the internet.
In a paper entitled ‘Holistic Approach for the Reconstruction and Rehabilitation of the North East Nigeria Region Ravaged by Terrorism and Insurgency: The National and International Policy Options/Perspectives’, through which the demand was made at the event by his representative and secretary, Borno Elders Forum, Dr Bulama Mala Gubio, he based his demand on some phantom petroleum deposit in the North East, yet to be explored.
Apart from the 13 per cent derivation he is requesting the incoming administration of President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, to grant to the North East, the governor also said “We are calling for the establishment of a special intervention programme to salvage the region from socio-economic deprivation on one hand and environmental degradation on the other hand which leads to desertification and droughts with the consequent imbalance in ecological dynamics. It is our firm belief that this will go a long way to address the current socio- economic upheavals experienced in the region.”
For many, especially from the oil-producing states in the Niger Delta, it appears the governor was equating his area in status and demography to the Niger Delta, which had been getting 13 per cent statutory allocation on the basis of derivation. But the region is still clamouring for more to about 50 per cent that was stalemated at the 2005 Political Conference and the recent 2014 Conference, where its revisit almost split the House along ethno-political lines, threatening its successful conclusion until it was harmonized under the motion to activate with Federal support mineral extraction by all states. There is no doubt that Borno basin holds prospects for oil exploration though series of test carried out there by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation is yet to yield any fruit.
Even the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, which has lapsed into the incoming 8th National Assembly, because of strong opposition against some of its provisions to cater to the needs of the people in the Niger Delta, has continued to generate controversy to the anger of the people.
At ant rate some political watchers said Shettima must have started flexing a newly found political muscle based on his recent election as the new Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum, NSGF, meeting which took place on Monday, May 18, at the Niger State Governors Lodge in Abuja. Hence, the demand for 13 per cent derivation by Shettima while no oil is being explored in the North East elicited reactions from some Nigerians. One of the respondents, Chy Adajesu, mockingly said “95 per cent will be much suitable since they are the major oil producing state in Nigeria.” Also sounding in the vein with Adajesu is another respondent, Harris Eluwah who said “Yes, Borno is one of the oil producing state! It deserves 90 per cent of the revenue.”
Becky Obioma, another respondent posited that “If I may ask, how many percent is allocated to the producing states that are suffering the pollution? Let them continue destroying their region while continuing to hope on oil money.” Likewise, a respondent, Pat Odigie said “He should have rather asked for 99 per cent.” On the whole, David Abu, a political analyst summed it up by saying “These are the worst utterances I have heard or read in recent memory. Governor Kassim Ibrahim’s statements are callous, barbarous, malicious and idiotic.
“If we are to revisit the menace of Boko Haram and its insidious supporters, Kassim would go down as one the enemies of the Nigerian people. His disgraceful action immediately the Chibok girls were abducted by his boys, is an eloquent testimony to prove that he knows more about the abduction than he is willing to tell. How can a sitting governor, on hearing that over 200 schools girls have been abducted by anal retentive malcontents, propelled by religious psychosis, aka Boko Haram, gather the parents of the girls together and starts to dole out money to them? “Recent revelations show that the governor’s shameful action was intended to shut them up.
And as if he hasn’t done enough damage with that singular act of conspiracy against the Nigerian state, he is now making a ridiculous demand of 13 percent allocation for the North East cum the re-integration of the insurgents. His demand is borne out of his willingness to openly reveal that he acted his script very well and now he should be duly compensated for a job well done. “Well, according to Emile Zola: ‘If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way.’ Therefore, I say to Kassim Ibrahim, enjoy it while it lasts, because no matter how long it takes, you and your boys will be brought to justice.”