Several reactions have trailed the revelation of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike about the payment of the 13 % derivation arrears to Niger Delta states last year.
Reports that several stakeholders have questioned other south-south states on what they used their own share of the money for.
Among those who reacted was a coalition identified as the Bayelsa Non-Governmental Organisations Forum (BANGOF), which is said to be an umbrella body of over 40 active NGOs in the state.
The coalition’s coordinator, Dauseye Torki, revealed that “We just wrote a letter to the Bayelsa State Government through the Ministry of Finance for the procurement plan on what they planned to do in 2022.
“That will help us to monitor the projects that are done in the state.
“We will also have the information on how much they are receiving every month and there will be a thorough analysis of what they have done.”
We gathered that the Chairman of Phase 2 of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Imoh Okoko, called on the Federal Government to probe the usage of the funds, especially by Akwa Ibom state.
Okoko, who decried the living condition and the deplorable state of infrastructure in oil-producing local government areas of Eket, Ibeno, Eastern Obolo, Mbo, Ikot Abasi and Esit Eket, queried the state governor, Udom Emmanuel on what he used the money.
He said: “The oil-bearing areas in the state lack basic infrastructure such access roads, internal roads, hospitals, and potable drinking water, among others.
“I want the Federal Government, civil society groups, traditional rulers, stakeholders and the ordinary people to ask Governor Udom Emmanuel what he has been using the derivation money for.”
We recalled that Wike had appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari for approving payment of a backlog of allocations to Niger Delta states since 1999.
He commended President Buhari for not playing politics with the payment of 13 per cent derivation arrears to Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Akwa Ibom states.
The governor said part of the state’s allocation was used for the numerous projects his administration undertook, including the flyovers, the law school and the cancer centre.
Wike said, “Monies that were not paid to the Niger Delta states since 1999 mainly 13 per cent deductions, the President approved and paid all of us in Niger Delta states.”
The Itsekiri Liberation Group (ILG) also queried the Delta state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa saying he should account for Delta state’s share of the money.
The group’s coordinator, Oris Mone, said the funds should reflect in massive developmental and infrastructural projects, as seen in Rivers.
Mone said “The only thing we can do is to call out our governor, Dr Okowa. We are asking him: ‘Where is our money?’ Is he saving it? Has it been looted? Has it been diverted for other purposes?”
Also, a frontline rights activist identified as Kola Edokpayi from Bayelsa state was also reported to have said residents would no longer keep quiet but would demand accountability from the governor.
He said, “God bless Governor Wike for exposing the non-performing governors in the crude oil and gas-rich Niger Delta region, who collected huge derivation funds and arrears, but without any project on the ground to justify the monies.”
We learnt that when the Bayelsa state Commissioner for Finance, Maxwell Ibiba, was contacted to react to the people’s agitations, he told Nations that “The state will address the issue tomorrow (today). Kindly contact the Commissioner for Information.”
The state Commissioner for Information, Orientation and Strategy, Ayibaina Duba, was reported not to have picked up calls or responded to messages sent to him.
However, we gathered that the Delta state governor reacted to the agitations saying the state had drawn only N30 billion from its accrued share of N270 billion from the 13 per cent derivation arrears.
Okowa, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Olisa Ifeajika disclosed that the people of Delta state were aware of the payment because his administration earlier disclosed the information to Deltans.
He said his administration opted to access its share through a bridge finance loan of N150billion from a bank, adding that the N150 billion bridge finance loan was a discounting of receivables from the Federal Government for petroleum subsidy payments made without recourse to the 13 per cent derivation due to oil-producing states from 2010 to date.
Okowa also revealed that the funds totalling N270.6 billion ought to have been received long ago but because the Federal Government could not pay it in bulk, the oil-producing states agreed for some part of it to be paid within three years and the other within five years.
His chief press secretary said “Okowa told Deltans that the Federal Government owed Delta arrears of 13 per cent, which amounted to N270 billion. Okowa did not hide the fact that the Federal Government promised to pay the arrears.”