As delegates to the National Conference prepare to debate the Report of the Committee on Devolution of Power, which is expected to be presented at plenary tomorrow, there are strong indications of a titanic battle over the 50 per cent derivation being canvassed for oil producing states.
The battle-line would be drawn between the submissions by the relevant committee, which is said to have insisted that the 13 per cent derivation is enough for oil producing states, and the advocates of 50 per cent
derivation. Earlier Ms Ankio Briggs, a delegate from the Niger Delta, had set the tone by proposing 50 percent derivation for oil producing states as contained in her minority report which was, however, rejected at plenary.
Many delegates have vowed to kick against the demand. Specifically, northern delegates at the weekend rejected the resolutions adopted by the conference, saying some of the controversial issues approved were literally lifted out of a document not prepared by a conference committee.
The Northern delegates under the auspices of Northern Delegates Forum (NDF) had agreed to reject the controversial resolutions and resolved to send a delegation to the conference’s Chairman, Justice Idris Kutigi, even as they accused the conference secretariat of bias and “calculated plan to adopt all the recommendations made by Chief Raymond Dokpesi’s group’s ‘Terms of Agreement by Six-Geopolitical Zones’ document.”
Another delegate told our reporter that the South-South delegates might have felt cheated after the committees finished their work.
“They have the feeling that northerners have the upper hands at committee level. That was why Ms Annkio Briggs submitted her personal report she called minority report on committee on devolution of power, where she was canvassing for 50 per cent derivation,” the delegate said.
He said in its effort to reclaim what they believed they lost at the plenary, the South-South people embarked on a serious campaign, lobbying northern delegates, particularly those from the Middle Belt and other minorities, to endorse their positions at the plenary.
“What transpired last Thursday was one of the consequences of such intense lobbying on Northern delegates by the South-South. They have all the money to achieve anything. They engaged foreign consultants specifically for the conference.
“Again, they have the likes of Professor Jerry Gana to actualise their wishes. Already, there is an alliance between Middle Belt and the South-South zone. They capitalise on these and other factors to mount serious lobby for their 50 per cent derivation issue to sail through at the plenary. That is the position now,” the delegate said.
A delegate from the North-East, who spoke with Sunday Trust in confidence, vowed that northern delegates would resist what he termed ‘hidden amendments that were not discussed at the committee level. “We intend to discuss only issues that have been deliberated upon at the committee level; we are aware that the South-South, South-West and South-East who outnumber the north in terms of delegates have perfected to push for these hidden amendments, but anything short of what have been discussed at the committee level will make us stage a walk-out,” he said, adding that northern delegates would be meeting this night to come up with a position. While delegates from the North are 192, those from the South are 300.
Northern delegates are insisting that all major issues at the conference such as derivation, local governments, state creation must be subjected to ballot voting, not voice votes, Sunday Trust gathered last night.
Source News Express