South south governors came under more scrutiny yesterday over their use of the 13 per cent derivation fund paid to them by the Federal Government.
One of the states defended its use of the funds, but stakeholders demanded accountability.
According to them, there is little in the oil-producing communities to show for the huge funds.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) had urged the nine oil-producing states to provide and widely publish details of spending of the oil derivation refunds of N625 billion.
The Federal Government paid the sum to Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Rivers, Ondo, Imo and Cross River states.
The payments covered 13 per cent oil derivation, subsidy and SURE-P refunds. The refunds date from 1999 to 2021.
The request was contained in a December 10 open letter signed by SERAP Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare.
The NGO said it has information that under the 13 per cent derivation fund, Abia received N4.8 billion; Akwa-Ibom, N128 billion; and Bayelsa, N92.2 billion.
Cross River got N1.3 billion; Delta, N110 billion; Edo, N11.3 billion; Imo, N5.5 billion, Ondo, N19.4 billion; and Rivers received 103.6 billion.
On the 13 per cent derivation fund on deductions made by NNPC, Abia received N1.1 billion; Akwa-Ibom, N15 billion; Bayelsa, N11.6 billion; Cross River, N432 million; Delta, N14.8 billion; Edo, N2.2 billion; Imo, N2.9, billion; Ondo, N3.7 billion while Rivers was paid N12.8 billion.
The nine states also received N4.7 billion each, totalling N42.34 billion as refunds on withdrawals for subsidy and SURE-P from 2009 to 2015.
Each was also paid N3.52 billion as a refund to local government councils on withdrawals for subsidy and SURE-P from 2009 to 2015.
SERAP urged the governors to disclose details of spending of the refunds.
It said: “The constitutional principle of democracy also provides a foundation for Nigerians’ right to know details of spending of the oil derivation refunds.”
Delta Commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu, said while Nigerians have a right to ask questions on the use of public funds, it appeared the use of 13 per cent derivation by Southsouth states was being politicised.
He said: “In Delta, we have continued to explain what we are doing with our resources.
“The Koka interchange is about to be completed, it is money that is being spent.
“Ughelli/Asaba dual carriageway is under construction. It is not a voodoo economy.
“We are building human capacity through different platforms with over 17,000 beneficiaries.
“When we say here in Delta that we don’t owe salaries, they are paid from the resources we have.
“The 13 per cent is recognised as the resources derived from our state. It is not a freebie.
“It is part of our resources. It is not a windfall. When we prepare our budgets, we take cognizance of 13 per cent.”
Cross River government, in a statement by the Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Christian Ita, said it was a victim of “injustice” by the amount it got.
Ita said: “We find it objectionable that neighbouring states are collecting over N100 billion and Cross River gets N1.3billion.
“The mere fact that Cross River is listed with others who enjoyed the 13% oil derivation refunds exposes the sense of injustice against our state by the Nigerian state.”
Leader of civil society organisations in Edo State, Kola Edokpayi, urged the governors of the oil and gas-producing states to be more transparent on their use of the funds.
The rights activist said: “The benefiting governors should accept SERAP’s challenge by publishing the projects executed with the 13 per cent derivation refund, and their locations, thereby justifying the huge funds and for their critics to keep quiet.”
All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for Eket federal constituency, Mr. Eseme Eyiboh, backed SERAP.
Eyiboh, a former House of Representatives spokesperson, believes the governors were obligated to come clean on what they used the money for.
“They shouldn’t have waited to be told what to do as regards this issue.
“Let them disclose the monies they have collected so far,” he said.
The Itsekiri Liberation Group (ILG) called on Niger Delta governors to publish how the money was spent.
Its coordinator, Oris Mone, said most oil-producing communities in Delta remain undeveloped.
Emphasising the need for accountability, he noted that the funds were for communities that bear the brunt of crude oil exploration and exploitation.
He said: “If we want our country to grow, we must account for whatever is put in our care.
“You can’t expect that for a period of years, those nine states received that colossal sum of money and you can’t see development in our states.
“I always narrow it to Delta, where I come from. You can’t measure the amount of money received so far from the 13 per cent oil derivation fund with the level of development you see on the ground.
“We are not seeing anything. Go to those oil-producing communities, you can’t see any project being done by the state government, or by agencies of government in those communities.
“They should give an account of it. If you go to these oil-bearing communities, you will cry over the standard of living; some for over 30 years have not had electricity, no potable water.”
An advocacy group, the Movement for the Survival of Izon Ethnic Nationality in the Niger Delta (MOSIEND), also backed SERAP’s call.
Its National President, Comrade Kennedy Tonjo-West, said the people deserved to know how their money was spent and on what projects and locations.
He said: “We demand to know the way and manner government applied the accrued resources to meeting the needs of the people.
“We wonder how such monies could be coming into the states and yet poverty is hitting the people hard and the crime rate is steadily on the increase.”