By Levinus Nwabughiogu
Engr. Buba Galadima was the national secretary of the defunct Congress for Progress Change, CPC. He is also a member of the ongoing 2014 national conference in Abuja. In this interview with Vanguard, Galadima argued the basis for increment on 13 percent derivation to Niger Delta states, saying the conference would have voted on it than recommending for a technical committee on the issue. Excerpts:
Events in the country have instilled fear in the people that the 2015 General elections may not eventually hold, fearing more that Nigeria may disintegrate. Do you share in this fear?
You see, I raised this issue at the national conference. If anybody wants Nigeria to disintegrate, why don’t we sit on the table at the national conference and divide it, let everybody pick his piece and go peacefully.. Why do we have to kill ourselves?
Why should anybody want to force himself to be president? Let’s leave it for Nigerians to chose who they want. I have never seen any country in the world where soldiers are deployed during elections except in Nigeria and I have never seen where the police take sides or carry arms during elections. All these things are happening because those in authority are not sure that the people will willingly, voluntarily vote for them.
Talking about the conference, many people are surprised that the conference couldn’t reach a compromise on derivation. Why recommend the setting up of a technical committee for this when the conference has the mandate solve it?
You see, I do laugh at some Nigerians. When it suits them, they talk of international best practices. When it suits them, you guys talk of what is obtained in America, Europe, in this and that. But if it does not suit them, they now talk of the Nigerian factor because they want to cheat one group.
The conference was set up under certain rules which we have all agreed and subscribed to. And the rules of procedure say that as much as possible, all decisions should be arrived at through consensus. And when consensus fails, it should be resolved democratically through voting. And in the elections when you want to change a position, you must obtain 70 percent plus of the delegates for you to actualize that position.
So, what stopped Kuitigi who was a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, from following the rules? Does he have any inherent interest into what is happening? Himself and his deputy, What is their interest? Professor Bolaji Akinyemi is an international diplomat and former foreign minister of Nigeria, he should have known better that at the end of everything, that the majority can have their way but the minority must have their say. Let me come back to the issue of derivation.
I was a member of the committee on devolution of power and resource control. We arrived at a decision that was acceptable to all. And there was a reason for arriving at that decision. When I wanted to speak why did Kutigi block me?
Why did Akinyemi block me? It could be because it was a rule that committee members didn’t have the right to speak when their report was being considered at plenary.
Which part of the rules of procedure states that?
It was not there but it was an unwritten convention delegates agreed on. I was there when that decision was taken.
So, why didn’t anyone raise objection on the issue earlier?
Because, it was not part of the rules. If it was part of the rules, we would have objected it and asked that we go for division. It was not. So, on this one, I am on the right path more than Kutigi and Professor Akinyemi and they know that.
They know that some of us will not fear them as not to speak our minds. Let me go back to the committee. The committee made recommendation to the plenary that we should adopt status quo and thank God you know a lot of members on that committee.
In fact, except for one person, Ankio Briggs and I respect her for that because even at the committee level, she held her guns and refused to sign the report and refused even to participate in the group photograph. But all these bigs names, Professors, they almost knelt down before us that we should maintain the status quo for the stability, security of the Nigerian nation.
And they likened the status quo to this: they said if we change the status quo, it is akin to a mother breast-feeding her two months old baby and she suddenly put off the milk from his mouth, you know that that baby will continue to cry and cry.
Therefore, let’s leave the sleeping dog lie. Because we advanced an argument which they could not faulter and we arrived at a decision as currently constituted in the stauotus quo. The Niger Delta people or the states where we explore oil get about 47% of the revenue generated from oil. And we had put the figures before them. They benefit from 9 agencies of government that make them get 47 percent.
One of the agencies of government is the 13 percent. The second agency of government is the offshore which legally does not belong to them because there is a judgment of the supreme Court. Kutigi sat on that judgement. That is why I laugh when I look at him and he pretends to be a tough judge. I just laugh when he is posturing. He can’t eat his cake and have it.
He ruled at the supreme Court level that these people are not entitled to this and now he wants them to benefit through the back door. What is it that influenced him to change his mind from the day they delivered that judgement till now that he is the chairman of the conference? You people should ask him.
The offshore/onshore was decided by the supreme Court, one, and politically agreed under the chairmanship of chief Anthony Anenih when Obasanjo set up a committee to look into that matter; when pressure became too much on him from Obong Victor Attah who incidentally was also a co-chairman of the devolution and resource control committee.
All these people shouting at plenary, they didn’t do one percent over one million percent of what Attah did to obtain onshore/offshore dichotomy abolished. Why did he agree? So, Anenih and his committee recommended (we have the papers) to Obasanjo that what we should do to tamper with the supreme Court judgement and bring a political solution is that we will allow the litoral states to take 13 percent of the oil up to the depth of 200 meters.
If you remove the offshore, it means automatically the offshore contributes 48 percent of the oil money accruing to the nation. So, the 13 percent could have been calculated on the 52 percent. Then the ministry of Niger Delta where the colossal amount of wealth is been pumped and shared to people.
Then, the Amnesty where some of us are even accusing that they are using the amnesty programme to train people in military, air force and naval activities. Colossal amount of money.
Then the PDTF where all the scholarships are given to only people from the Niger Delta and all the their intervention projects are in the Niger delta. Then, you have the local contents where all the oil companies give money to the communities, do projects, employ people from the communities.
Then, NDDC where the federal government contributes 10 %, the oil companies contribute 15 percent and the host state contributes 10 percent.
So, when you bring all these together, the oil producing states end up getting about 47 percent of the local revenue. When it is hiked up to 18 percent, what will be the losses on other states of the federation? As I am talking to you, some states in the south south have so much money that they don’t don’t know what to use it for.
And I want to specifically mention Akwa Ibom where the governor is busy deploying free funds in impeaching Governors all over the nation? And I want to say that the entire money gotten by south East for May is only N20 billion while Akwa Ibom alone got N22 Billion and let me say that Akwa Ibom does not have one single oil well on its soil and people now say the north is against derivation.
I want to say no, it is not the north because delegates of Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra, Imo, Osun, Ogun, Oyo, Lagos, Edo; ten states from the south are all against the increase of derivation from 13 percent. So, for you to erroneously promote the view that the north was against the south south; these are the people we liberated from the Eouth East. They should be told. Is it because they have transient power?
They have got mouth? Was it not Edwin Clarke who was lying flat at Benin Airport in the 70s to receive Gowon and that sycophancy made him to be appointed a Minister when Enahoro resigned? Do you think people forget or don’t know? They have mouth now to abuse the north? What I pity is those northerners who think they are working in consonant with them so that some sections of the north will be obliterated.
They are doing what the Hausa people say chew a stone so that the grain will be afraid. When they finish with those they so promote and castigate, it is the people in the middle belt who they accuse of having killed them during civil war that they will now attack.
How would you have felt if the conference had called for a division, then bring ballot boxes and you were called to queue and cast your votes on an issue? Would that have augured well for Nigeria and her unity?
Ah, ah! You know I will be the first person to queue because we agreed on the committee. Why didn’t Victor Attah who was the co-chairman speak to disown our report? There was a report. They needed 70 percent to jettison that report but I want to assure you that if we voted and those of us, pro-status quo didn’t get 85 percent, then we would concede that they have won in what ever percentage they get.
Yes! Nigeria can part peacefully – Buba Galadima