Derivation Principle, Resource Control Remain Contentious
After seven hours of closed-door deliberations on Monday, the Committee on Devolution of Power emerged without a decision on the twin issues of derivation principle and resource control at the on-going National Conference in Abuja.
The committee could equally not resolve the argument and counter argument by some delegates from different geo-political zones that the onshore-offshore oil dichotomy be reintroduced in states whose minerals are located off the coasts of their states.
With little smiles but more straight faces, most of the members declined comments when asked to speak on their individual positions on the issues that have attracted intense debate for three straight days.
However, as it was last week, delegates from the North had spoken in support of reduction in derivation principle or at best retention of the existing 13 percentage while delegates from the South, particularly those from the South-South geo-political zone, want more.
On the issue of reintroduction of the abolished onshore-offshore oil dichotomy, some delegates from the South West geo-political zone agreed with those from the North that the abolition carried through an Act of the National Assembly should be reintroduced.
Arguments by delegates from the oil bearing states bordered on the belief that reintroduction of the obnoxious onshore-offshore oil dichotomy will take the country many years backward and create or bring back some situations that the National Conference was called to discuss and find solutions to.
Other delegates from the South were said to have argued that the demand for premature scrapping of the Niger Delta Development Commission, the Presidential Amnesty Programme and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs could reintroduce the same problems those agencies were created to solve.
Co-Chairman of the Committee, Obong Victor Attah, had informed journalists after the morning session that each of the committee members had opportunity to state their positions on the issues and was optimistic that the committee would arrive at a decision by the end of the day.
This however did not happen at the close of sitting on Monday. Attah said the committee had completed debates on the issues and that by Tuesday morning, he was confident that a decision that would not rob any part of the country of its rights would be taken.
He said after every member had spoken on the issue, it was decided that they should all go and ponder over the issues raised by individuals and come back refreshed in the morning for a final decision.
Committee members were advised not to take any decision in the direction that would create disequilibrium in the system. They were admonished to think beyond oil and gas as the only mineral resources in the country.
The issue of Nigeria’s leadership role in Africa was up for discussion at Monday’s sitting of the Committee of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora Matters. The committee lamented the dwindling leadership role of Nigeria in Africa and advocated a better organized approach.
Ambassador Mohammed Isah Aliyu was of the opinion that ECOWAS single currency would not be of much benefit to Nigeria because all the French speaking West African countries are appendages of France. A member wants the lessons from the Chibok kidnap saga to be a case study for the nation’s foreign policy.
Retired AIG Ibrahim Baba Ahmed suggested that the fight against corruption in the country should begin with the Police; just as he advocated a better welfare for the law enforcement agency, revealing that as a commissioner and later AIG, he did not have any imprest to his office.
The committee recommended the establishment of a Foreign Service Commission as well as a central body that would coordinate all Foreign donations and aids coming into the country.
At the Committee on Public Service, remunerations and allowances of legislators were the major issues discussed.
A member described the jumbo pay as both legal and moral issues while another suggested that pension contributory scheme that was applicable in both the private and public sectors should be made applicable to the legislators. The numbers of ministers and advisers for the president was also discussed.
The Committee recommended the amendment of the portion of the constitution that requires the president to appoint at least one minister from each state to read “not more than one minister from each state.” The number of ministers has therefore been reduced from 42 to 36
It also recommended the full implementation of the Integrated Personnel Payroll System (IPPS) to include the military, paramilitary, judiciary and the legislature.
It was also recommended that legislators at both State and Federal levels should be on part-time basis and their remunerations should be comparable to other arms of government.
On budget reform, the committee recommended that projects should have terminal dates and not be perpetually on the budget. The Millennium Tower and the Lokoja-Abuja road which have been on-going for about 13 and 8 years respectively were cited as examples.
The Committee also wants the National Framework for monitoring and evaluating budget to be made more functional.
The committee on Economy, Trade and Investment met to fine-tune the reports of its various sub-committees as members expect the acting Governor of the Central Bank who is billed to interact with them tomorrow.
General Anthony Ukpo suggested that government should invest in areas that do not have immediate commercial interest value like the space program. He also suggested that government should strengthen regulation.
The committee agreed that the people must be central to all the activities of government.
Meanwhile, most of the other Committees have already completed their job and are collating reports which would be submitted to the secretariat of the National Conference before the end of the week.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY, MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS