The Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] Governors Forum rose from its meeting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state capital, raising alarm over what it described as ‘Opaque’ manner in which the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation [NNPC] carried out its operations, noting that, such has starved states, local government councils and Nigerians the needed fund to pursue developmental and other economic programme for the benefit of all.
In a 14 page Communiqué read by the Sokoto state governor, Aminu Tambuwal, who is the chairman of the Forum and signed by all the governors on the PDP platform, the Forum stressed that such action of NNPC was against the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria as amended, as the Corporation was duty bound to make proceeds of sales to the federation account.
The Communiqué read, “The Forum examined the operations of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and expressed alarm at the OPAQUE manner it carries out its operations. It decried the recent NNPCs decision not to make its statutory contributions to the Federation Account, thereby starving the States and Local Governments and indeed Nigerians of funds needed for employment, development and general wellbeing.
“The meeting emphasised that under the Constitution, the NNPC is duty bound to make proceeds of sale or business of Petroleum available to the Federation Account which belongs to the three tiers of government, excluding reasonable and verified and verifiable cost of operations. The Federal government through NNPC is a manager of our oil wealth merely as A TRUSTEE for all Nigerians.
“The meeting frowned at a situation where the NNPC decides in a totally discretionary and often whimsical manner, how much to spend, how to spend it and how much to remit to the Federation Account, contrary to the letters and even the spirit of the 1999 Constitution.
“The meeting called on other agencies of Government such as Nigerian Ports Authority [NPA], Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency [NIMASA], Nigerian Communication Commission [NCC], Federal Inland Revenue Services, Customs and Excise and similar organisations that are statutorily required to make contributions into the Federation Account, to do more. The federating States should, going forward now, have a say in the determination of operating costs to ensure transparency and accountability”.
The PDP Governors also expressed concern over the operational system and methods of the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN], adding that, the Forum also observed with regret the way and manner the bank was operating as an independent government which goes contrary to law setting up the CBN as an autonomy institution.
“A situation where CBN creates money, decides how much of it to spend, on what to spend it on without any form of controls or supervision is patently subversive of our constitutional order. It has become not just a LEVIATHAN, but also a Father Christmas of sorts, dabbling into every sphere and scope of governmental activity, not just as a lender of last resort, but as a full executing agency of government. The meeting observed that the CBN has become such an octopus that it threatens state governments publicly, without decorum, about sanctions on any attempt to question its MODUS OPERANDI. The CBN should take immediate steps to halt the depreciation of the Naira.
“The PDP Governors frowned at the rising and seemingly uncontrollable debt profile of Nigeria with over 80% of normal Appropriation spent on debt servicing. All the gains of the PDP Government under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, where Nigeria exited its foreign debt obligations have been destroyed. Borrowing for frivolous items such as funding the Nigerian Television Authority is scandalous. Money should only be borrowed for productive purposes as Nigeria’s current debt of over N36 Trillion Naira is becoming clearly unsustainable relative to our earnings and GDP. We should not saddle incoming generations with undue debt burden. The borrowing spree of the APC administration if unchecked, will certainly lead Nigeria into avoidable bankruptcy”.
The PDP governors frowned that its earlier calls on the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission to send the revised allocation formula to Mr. President for onward transmission to the National Assembly fell on a deaf ear, urging the Body to act without further delay.
“The Forum reiterated its call, which seem to have fallen on deaf ears, for the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission to URGENTLY SEND the revised Revenue Allocation Formula to Mr. President for onward transmission to the National Assembly for enactment, such that more resources are made available to States and Local Governments where ordinary Nigerians reside. It called on the Chairman and Members of the Commission to RESIGN or be relieved of their duties, if they cannot discharge this sacred constitutional duty entrusted by the Nigerian people to it. The present constitutional amendment process should make the Commission more independent and accountable to all stakeholders”.
The meeting called for more involvement of States in mining and geophysical activities within their States, noting that, such was necessary to curtail harm to the environment and further diversify the economy and complement oil as a foreign exchange earner for Nigeria,
“The meeting examined the suspension of Twitter from operating in Nigeria, and condemned the personalised reasons given for the action. The mere ego of Mr. President is not enough for such a drastic action that deprives millions of Nigerians from such an affordable means of expression and communication. We hope that this is not a harbinger or early warning signs of descent into dictatorship.
“The meeting noted that social media regulation can only be done within the existing laws on the subject and should not be used as an attempt to punish or gag Nigerians from enjoying constitutionally guaranteed rights. Nigerian youths do not have adequate access to employment and a lot of Nigerians rely on Twitter for their livelihood, businesses and self-employment. This will further worsen Nigeria’s 33% unemployment rate which is the highest in the world, improve Nigeria’s ranking as the country with second highest poverty rate in the entire world, all of which happened under APC’s unfortunate stewardship.
“.The meeting consequently requested Mr. President to review the suspension of TWITTER operations in Nigeria in the national interest.
“On the recurring question of insecurity of lives and property in Nigeria, the PDP Governors reiterated the need to decentralize the operations of the security apparatus of state even within the existing legal framework, to ensure the input of local operators in State and Local Governments in policing and security.
“It lamented the fact that Mr. President seems not to be aware that the coercive instruments of State security are firmly within his hands and not the Governors, considering his recent media interview on the subject. The meeting reminded Mr. President that he has ultimate authority under the Constitution over security organisations, even though the States have a role to play. Cooperation and synergy between States and the Federal Government in security operations is critical in securing Nigeria. In any case, even though, Police are on the Exclusive List, the States, as a practical matter, spend huge sums of money to support the security agencies to carry out their duties.
“The need for an appropriate legal framework to involve the States in policing has become even more urgent by the day. To this end we reiterate our call for the National Assembly to expedite action in passing the Electoral Act and Constitution amendments to ensure restructuring and decentralization of governmental powers and functions”.
Governors or their representatives that attended the meeting were: Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, – Sokoto State – Chairman, Okezie Ikpeazu -Abia State – Vice Chairman, Udom Emmanuel, Akwa Ibom State – Member, Sen. Douye Diri – Bayelsa State – Member, Samuel Ortom -Benue State –Member, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa – Delta State – Member, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi – Enugu State – Member, Nyesom Wike, CON – Rivers State – Member, Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde -Oyo State – Member, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri -Adamawa State –Member, Godwin Obaseki – Edo State –Member, Bala Mohammed -Bauchi State – Member, Arc. Darius Ishaku -Taraba State –Member, Deputy Gov. Mahdi Mohd -Zamfara State.