Yesterday, The Deputy Senate President Omo-Agege and other South South senators opposed a bill demanding the addition of newly recognized oil-producing states as members of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Lagos, Ogun, Bauchi, and Anambra are some of the states now regarded as oil-producing states.
Under the NDDC Act, Cross River, Edo, Delta, Abia, Imo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, and Ondo are members of the intervention agency, which share the statutory 13 percent derivation as oil mineral producers.
The opposition by Senators Omo-Agege, George Sekibo, and Matthew Urhoghide came after the consideration of a bill titled: “A Bill for an Act to amend the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act No. 6, 2000 and for other matters connected therewith, 2021.”
The bill was sponsored by Solomon Adeola the senator representing Lagos West District. The bill was passed for Second Reading by the Senate.
Adeola in his lead debate had debated that Lagos, Bauchi, and Ogun have officially joined the league of oil-producing states, subsequent to the discovery of crude oil in Alkaleri, Badagry, Lagos, and Ipokia, respectively.
He said: “By virtue of this, the states are entitled to the 13 percent derivation that is due to oil-producing states according to the provision of Section 162, Sub-Section 2 of the Nigerian Constitution.
“The purpose of this bill is for the Act to make provision for new states who have joined the league of oil-producing states in Nigeria and for states that might eventually discover oil in the future as opposed to the present position of the Act, which only covers oil-producing states within the Niger Delta.
“Furthermore, the inclusion of the new oil-producing states in the proposed law will save costs since it will follow precedence.
“This amendment is to accord the same provisions of the law amongst other benefits accrued to oil-producing states in Nigeria to the new oil-producing states and future oil-producing states.”
Meanwhile, the Deputy Senate President, Sekibo and Urhoghide said the NDDC was established to resolve the environmental degradation caused by oil exploration in the Niger Delta.
Although the Southsouth lawmakers stated that they had no problem with the “new oil producers” benefitting from the 13 percent derivation, they were against making them NDDC member states.
Omo-Agege depicted Adeola as “a classic meddlesome interloper.”
He said: “We look forward to the day when indeed, all states in Nigeria will not only produce oil, but produce one form of mineral resource or the other.
“Dealing with the issue of 13 percent derivation, to us, that is not an issue to the extent that they produce oil in commercial quantity and the DPR (Department of Petroleum Resources) so determines that oil is being sold, and revenue is being sent to the Federation Account.
“That is not the issue yet. The issue is whether or not just because they are oil-producing they should come under NDDC. If you are looking for meddlesome interlopers, you don’t have to go too far to find one.
“What this debate clearly shows is that my colleague from Lagos is a classic meddlesome interloper.
“The NDDC is a regional development commission. We must draw a distinction between the NDDC and the oil and mineral producing commission.”
Sekibo congratulated the ”states where my friend said they have discovered oil.”
He said: “What I don’t know is that whether the oil is in commercial quantity and they are drilling them out for sales and the money going to Nigerian coffers. He has not expatiate on that one.
“Are they exploring oil, are they refining oil in these places, and has the oil caused any devastation in that environment?
“The purpose of the NDDC is not just because they found oil there. It is because the place has been so devastated and there is the need to see how they can remedy the place and because that place is so backward.
“Each time there is a law to support people who are suffering, Nigerians will come out after a couple of years to dampen the strength of that law.
“There is nothing wrong that they are given their 13 percent derivation, that is if funds from that oil are now in the Federation Account.”
Urhoghide noted that states outside the Niger Delta were free to share from the 13 percent derivation provided they produce oil in commercial quantities. He stressed that including them as NDDC members was out of it.
His words: ”I’m not particularly against the sponsor of this bill. I just believe that the bill should be properly posted.
“In NDDC today, the area that constitutes the Niger Delta is very clear. The nine states of the Niger Delta region are very clear.
“Today, what each state gets from the 13 percent derivation is a function of production.
“Today, Gombe is fast becoming a host community, Bauchi and some other states. But, to say these states belong to the Niger Delta region is not possible.
“If the idea is that they want to share out of the 13 percent derivation, they are free as long as they produce oil, but to say they must belong to Niger Delta makes a mockery of the creation of NDDC.”
Senators from the North, who contributed to the debate, supported the bill, but noted that the states outside of the Niger Delta should not be included as part of NDDC.
The bill was submitted to the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs by Senate President Ahmad Lawan for further legislative work. The committee will report back in four weeks.