The Niger Delta does not need 13% derivation, NDDC, etc
“The Niger Delta has 13% derivation, monthly allocations, NDDC, Ministry of Niger Delta, Amnesty, etc. What have they done with all these institutions and funds that they are now demanding for more? “
The above statement is the new narrative to justify the continuous exploitation of the Niger Delta people and to support the need for the federal government to continue the stealing of the Niger Delta wealth and resources. People who share this view are ignorant of what is going on in the Niger Delta and how Nigerian politics affect the region.
Yes, the oil producing states of Nigeria have Ministry of Niger Delta, NDDC and 13% derivation. Yet the Niger Delta people have remained poor, their infrastructure remain insufficient and their economic progress can be described as stagnant. Their cities and villages have no electricity, there are little industries, little jobs and worst still, their future has remained uncertain, just like the rest of the country. What could be the cause?
First, oil producing communities/states do not need Ministry of Niger Delta, NDDC, 13% derivation or even the PIB! These are all unitary-military ‘feeding bottle’ institutions designed to favor the elites of the Niger Delta and not the local people. These institutions have no relationship with the local communities. Right from the top, these institutions assume for the communities what they need, award the bloated contracts, execute the substandard projects and then demand for more money from Abuja. They exist for the elites, they exist as settlement institutions for political loyalists and to maintain peace while the fraud continues. They exist for the purpose of awarding contracts without solving problems with the contracts.This is not to say that there are no laudable projects embarked upon by these institutions, coupled with the fact that the terrain of the Niger Delta makes it quite expensive to construct public goods and services.
13% derivation is controlled by the state governments (governors). The states governors are the mini-military rulers of their domain. They are unitarist in nature and they are the thieves and oppressors at the state level. They reflect the Abuja version of unitary-military central command at the state level. They decide which community should get a water project, why and when. They are oppressors and their powers also need to be devolved to the communities. I have explained severally the difference between a top-bottom government and a bottom-up government. As long as Nigeria continue to practice a top-bottom system of government, every institution created by the Federal Government for whatever purpose will still be far from the people. Giving the Niger Delta states more derivation without first restructuring the federal system is a waste of resources.
The Federal Government should therefore stop creating all these elitist institutions and assuming that it is doing the oil communities a favour. Nigeria is a skewed and corrupt state, every institution created by Nigeria under the present system will become skewed and corrupt. All the existing federal and state institutions are not serving the interest of the local communities. They are serving the interest of the political elites. Giving the Niger Delta governors more money under the present skewed structure is like setting up a fire and throwing your money into it. The funds will burn right there. You cannot develop the Niger Delta by giving their elites institutions and more funds. The Niger Delta people must control their resources and decide what institution is best suitable for managing their resources. The Niger Delta people must decide for themselves what institutions are needed for their own development. They must also fund, manage and appoint whoever is to run their institutions.
During the reign of Goodluck Jonathan, NDDC was like a personal company of his wife-Mama Peac and their PDP political associates. Today, NDDC is now like a personal company of Rotimi Amaechi and his APC political associates. This trend will not change as long as we continue to practice this skewed, corrupt, unitary ‘feeding bottle’ federalism. The Niger Delta communities have no real stake in all these institutions and funds.
What then is the solution? Its quite simple.
Give back the land and the resources to the communities (not state), allow the communities run a democratic government at the community level and also allow the communities to have fiscal responsibilities. The govts should remain as a regulator and finally the govts should gets its share of the resources by imposing high taxes on the profit of the exploration. The communities should have a sense of ownership so they can no longer hold the govt responsible for their underdevelopment. This is how it is done in other parts of the the world. The FG should repeal the land use act and give back the land and the resources to the rightful owners. You cannot alienate a people from their resources and not expect them to revolt. Let the communities be responsible for their development and underdevelopment.
NDDC, Ministry of Niger Delta, 13% derivation and even the PIB are all unnecessary. These are all criminal institutions designed to settle the Niger Delta political elites while the local people suffer. Giving these institutions more money is like giving our present states and LGAs more money. Its a waste. These institutions are not accountable to the people. They are top-bottom institutions. Nigeria needs bottom-top institutions. The local people have no control of these institutions.
Nigeria and Nigerians should stop spitting the people of Niger Delta. The crude oil is not yet dried up and you are already this ungrateful to a people and region that have sustained the entire country for this long. One can only imagine the mockery that the people of Niger Delta will face from ungrateful Nigerians when crude oil finally becomes redundant. It is time for Nigerians to start thinking of economic solutions without any connection to crude oil money. Niger Delta has fed Nigeria enough, they should now be allowed to feed themselves.
The Niger Delta is the biggest loser of this skewed, criminal, retrogressive ‘feeding bottle’ system that we practice. The federal government remains the biggest thief that is responsible for the underdevelopment of not just the Niger Delta but the entire country. The FG now needs to either be restructured or destroyed if every region of Nigeria must make progress!