Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) has questioned the rationale behind the proliferation of regional development commissions, noting that his major concern is with the funding of the commissions whose bills are already on the floors of the two chambers of the National Assembly.
According to the IYC president, Pereotubo Oweilaemi, he is not opposed to the establishment of any agency or commission but his fear is the funding of such commissions in the country.
In a statement made available to Emeraldng.com, the IYC president said: “With the way and manner the 9th Assembly is introducing these bodies such as: North Central Development Commission, North West Development Commission, after the North East Development Commission came on stream through the 8th Assembly, IYC fears that history may want to repeat itself about the funding.
“We want to believe that these agencies will not be funded with oil money from the Niger Delta. The funding of the North East Development Commission is shrouded in secrecy as we believe strongly that it’s being funded with oil money. This broad day robbery of our exclusive economic right should not be replicated in the incoming bodies.
“Just as the governors from the South East region have made it clear that the South East Development Commission is going to be jointly funded by them, the governors from the north should also come clear how they want their regional development agencies to be funded.
“This was how the then Supreme Military Council (SMC) under the chairmanship of General Olusegun Obasanjo exercised legislative powers at the federal level, made the greatest mockery of the Ijaws by promulgating River Basin Development Authorities Decree and the Niger Delta Basin Development Authority Decree. The former established 10 other River Basin Development Authorities for every river, rivulet, creek and brook in the rest of Nigeria. The latter established the Niger Delta Basin Development Authority.
“The Nigeria state using the barrel of the gun, proliferated river basin authorities using the oil wealth derived from the Ijaw land. It then went to categorize these development agencies from category A to D in order of importance for discriminatory funding.
“The Niger Delta Basin Development Authority, supposedly an offshoot of the defunct Niger Delta Development Board was placed in category D while Sokoto Rima Basin Development Authority was placed in category A. We reproduce hereunder the statistics of the funding of the River Basin Development Authorities in Nigeria from 1970-1983: Sokoto River Basin Authority N650,670,441; Chad River Basin Authority N296,557,606; Hadeija-Jamaara River Basin Authority N286,810,966; Ogun-Osun River Basin Authority; N183,595,638; Upper Benue River Basin Authority N139,524,063.
“Others are: Niger River Basin Authority N131,115,438; Anambra Imo River Basin Authority N118,307,366; Lower Benue River Basin Authority N102,323,405; Benin-Owena Basin Authority N89,921,231; Niger Delta Basin Development Authority N76,662,210, while Cross River Basin Authority N60,631,023.
“Our fear is that the regional development commission bills are another subtle move to deny Niger Delta of her right to development by diverting attention to the other regions as they did to the Niger Delta Basin Development Authority. We will not allow history to repeat itself. The National Assembly should make the funding aspects clearer. No oil revenue should be used to develop those agencies when the northern region is already getting lion share of the government’s attention due to the flawed federal structure.
“The NDDC is being starved of funds. The Federal government is owing the commission trillions of naira which it refused to pay. The Amnesty Programme is more of cosmetic as did not solve our problems. The Ministry of Niger Delta is administratively dead as the federal government has tactically merged the Ministry with the NDDC in order to deny the region the attention it supposed to get.
“The federal government can set up as many development commissions as it wants across the country but every regional development commissions should be funded with monies from that region. That itself automatically will take the Country to the path of true federalism and of course, there is going to be competition which will boost our economy in no smaller measures.”