The coalition of Northern leaders, formed to articulate the region’s interest in the eventuality of a national conference, has rejected the framework for the present revenue formula and accused the presidency of a mischievous plot for another term for President Goodluck Jonathan.
The coalition involving some northern governors, politicians, academics and some of the region’s most erudite personalities in the professions alleged that the subsisting revenue formula was illegal even as it deposed that it was harmful to the oil rich Niger Delta. According to the group, too much money going to the oil rich region was fueling corruption in the Niger Delta.
The position of the northern leaders was articulated at the end of a meeting of the chairmen of its 10 committees recently convened to define the interest of the region.
The group also demanded the identification of all Generals, businessmen and others involved in illegal bunkering activities in the Niger Delta.
The Coalition of Concerned Northerners has as members, Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State; Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State; former President of the Senate, Dr. Iyorcha Ayu and some of the leading lights of the region in different professions.
The presidency immediately rebuffed the allegation of scheming for a third term as it accused the Northern leaders of sorcery on the basis that the constitution review committee headed by Justice Alfa Belgore (rtd) was yet to submit its report.
The position of the group was articulated in a statement by the group’s convener, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, following yesterday’s meeting of the chairmen of its 10 standing committees.
On alleged third term plot
On the alleged plot for a third term, the group said: “The committee chairmen also noted with concern and regret the goings-on in the constitution amendment committee set up by the Federal Government under a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Alfa Belgore, where it has become clear that the Villa and the chairman are relentlessly pursuing sinister third term agenda/renewed tenure elongation for the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
“The main effort by Belgore and other hirelings of the Villa has been to create a so-called New Constitution that paves the way for Jonathan to again contest the presidential election in 2015 for a single term of seven years, that is, in addition to his current four (4) years to the nearly two (2) years he had served of the Yar’Adua Presidency.
“Belgore has nothing but contempt for issues in which the North feels cheated such as Abuja and revenue allocation and his dangerous antics have divided the committee, leading to acrimonious debates and near fist-fights with Belgore feigning helplessness while surreptitiously helping his own side. The whole country with the North as its head will rise to oppose this mischief.”
Responding to the claim, presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati told Vanguard yesterday:
“It is not in any evidence in any way that the Belgore Committee which the President set up to look up at the previous outcomes of political conferences, recommendations as to constitution amemndent has submitted any report any where. I am not aware of any report that has been submitted any where making any recommendations.
“We would expect that when people who claim to be major stakeholders in the Nigerian project make contributions, such contributions will show commonsense and decency. Because to comment on the report of the Belgore committee that has not been concluded and a report that has not yet been submitted will amount to witchcraft or if you like sorcery and therefore curious and entirely mischievous. As far as I know Belgore committee has not concluded its work.
“It also appears strange to me that a group of people who would otherwise be described as distinguished Nigerians would claim that President is looking for a third term. Every intelligent man in this country knows that President Jonathan is in his first term in office, so how have they suddenly jumped from first term to third term.
From the point of view of arithmetics, even their claim cannot stand. So that claim is weak, it is unacceptable.
“If their concern is about the seven-year term, President Jonathan has made it clear that his proposal is out of patriotic concern about the amount of wastefulness, greed, tension, conflict that go into the search for second term. It is borne out of patriotic concern that elected officials at all levels should dedicate themselves and concentrate their efforts during a specific period,” noting that the proposal was not original to the President.
On the revenue formula
On the revenue formula, the group said: “The North rejects the current obnoxious revenue allocation law and call for its immediate review in view of its being lopsided, unfair and detrimental to the interest of all Nigerians, including the real people of the oil-producing states it appears to favour superficially.
“Oil producing states are equally victims because the revenue accruing to their states on the basis of the obnoxious derivation over-weighted formula is far beyond their executive capacity to manage. As a consequence, it encourages corruption and hyper-inflation in those states, their neighbours and the country at large. The law, as it exists, is a violation of a subsisting judgment by the Supreme Court of Nigeria, a fact openly admitted to by former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
International Law of Sea Convention
“This revenue allocation law also stands in violation of the international law with particular reference to the International Law of Sea Convention (LOSC). The LOSC treaty, which has since come into force (1982), is the principal governing law for all maritime resource issues. The LOSC is one of the most comprehensive treaties in international law and clearly stipulates in its various parts and annexes that oil and all forms of wealth found on the continental shelf or the international sea bed must belong to the countries and not just to administrative/political units (littoral states) adjoining the physical sea.
“The revenue allocation law, as it stands, is a violation of a subsisting Supreme Court judgment viz: A-G of the Federation Versus A.G Abia State and 36 others (2002) reported in 6 NWLR part 765 on pages 542-905.
“The law is an encouragement to the political class to ignore the ecological devastation as a consequence of oil-related activities while financing and encouraging terrorist agitation and criminality in that part of Nigeria for political blackmail, extortion and ransom.
Condemn award of oil blocks to Generals, others
“The meeting condemned the practice by governments in awarding oil blocks and crude oil liftings to top Generals, cronies of parties or persons in power and fraudsters, who give our country a very bad name overseas.
“We strongly recommend the revocations of all those oil blocks and oil lifting contracts and urge a comprehensive review of all manner of refined products import contracts.
“Meanwhile, all Generals and dishonest businessmen, local chiefs and war-lords involved in criminal bunkering must be identified, arrested and effectively prosecuted.
“The Committee Chairmen also discussed the current status of Abuja as the Federal Capital Territory, whereby land belonging to identifiable peoples and communities is forcibly taken away to make way for a so-called federal capital development with virtually no compensation. The communities and peoples alienated from their lands are rendered internally displaced persons (IDPs), but lacking all the rights and privileges accorded them by UN Conventions.
“It is worth noting that from colonial era administration after unification in 1914 and the declaration of Lagos as the Nigeria’s capital, to the creation of Ibadan, Kaduna and Enugu as regional capitals, on to the creation of the old Mid-West with Benin City as capital in 1963, nowhere were the original inhabitants/owners comprehensively, pitilessly and insensitively dispossessed as in Abuja.
“The fiction of a so-called virgin land sold to the late General Murtala Mohammed was just that; a fictional and shameless invention by an obscure geographer from the South-West, to justify the heist of a peoples’ land. No land can be declared a virgin when it is occupied for several generations by peoples and communities.
What is sauce for the goose must be sauce for the gander. What has been the birth-right of Lagosians, their land, as well as Binis, Ibadans and the Wawas of Enugu, must be applicable with full force to the peoples/communities of Abuja forthwith.”
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