Governor Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State is uncomfortable with the Petroleum Industry Bill before the National Assembly because if passed into law, “oil producing states will be collecting over 40 per cent” of the federation account’s earning at the expense of other states “and that is not a nice way to do public policy, public accounting and public economy”.
The governor who apparently reflected the position of the North in an exclusive interview with THISDAY in Minna last Sunday said it would be better for those clamouring for an extra 10 per cent for oil producing communities in the PIB to come out and re-negotiate the 13 per cent set out for derivation in the constitution with the rest of the country instead of trying to increase it through the back door.
Aliyu said: “You said that there should be 10 per cent for the communities. Now, you have not taken the 13 per cent derivation that is there. By derivation, meaning because we get it from that place you have 13 per cent and this 13 per cent is taken out before the sharing; so if we have a N100, N13 is going to that place. Then you say 'no, no, no, give another N10 to the communities.' So, by the time you add the N13 to the N10, you already have N23.
“Then NDDC has been on the ground; take the budget of NDDC and what they are doing and add to this money; take the budget of Niger Delta Ministry and add to this money; take the budget of amnesty office and add to this money because it is not coming from derivation; derivation goes to the states. By the time you add up all these monies, we are already coming to 40-something per cent of the federation account. If you are arguing that 13 per cent is not enough given the devastation, then come out clear. What do you want? No, we want 50 per cent; no you can’t have 50 per cent. We can give you 25 per cent. You get what I am saying?”
The governor said it would have been better if the promoters of the 10 per cent allocation to oil producing communities had argued publicly that “look the money that is given for derivation is not enough,” and not coming through the PIB.
Governor Aliyu is hoping that Nigerians will come out and debate the PIB during its public hearing without emotions: “Lucky enough, at the Senate, it has gone through the second reading and they have given it to the committee. The same thing in the House of Representatives; between 22 and 23rd of this month, the House of Representatives is having a public hearing in all the zones. The House of Representatives is an aggregate of Nigeria’s interest or the National Assembly as an aggregate of Nigeria’s interest would be able to look at these issues and be able to balance it up properly."
The governor also cautioned those speculating about the likely break up of Nigeria, warning that they really don’t have a good idea of how a break-up will affect them.
“They (those talking about break up) don’t know that Nigeria cannot break up that easily. Let me give you an example. In the South East and South South, many people will think that they have a common interest. By the time of a break up, you will see that that interest is no more. Each group will want to go on its own. In the north, many people see us a monolithic, fine, but by the time you are talking of breaking up, you are not sure how the break up will affect us. I still remember the Orkah coup, and nobody has been able to explain to me why Orkah will excise some parts of Nigeria and say until they do this before they come back to Nigeria. That gives you an impression of something.”