The so-called National Conference came, but it appears it does not want to go away. Not just the vexatious issues regarding what the modalities would be in handling its recommendations, many of which are patently shortsighted and even dangerous, but even what it agreed (or failed to agree) upon do not seem to have been put to rest. After months of deliberations, drama and dancing (whenever a group gets its way) we were told that the 492 wise men and women, mostly "representing" sectional and ethnic constituencies that never elected them, would now reconvene, on the 4th of August, to sign onto a clean draft of their conclusions and agreements. What we were looking forward to was how the President would proceed from there, and what our elected representatives in the
Now, maybe some of us were too preoccupied with worrying about the Boko Haram insurgency, or overconfident and satisfied that the
But have they? Are the outcomes acceptable to all? Some of the "elder-statesmen", especially those of them with a strong grip on the media, would not have it. To them, nothing short of what they went there to demand for would be acceptable. The most arrogant of them even regard any tempering with their recommendations, even by our elected representatives, as a sacrilege.
Let me examine at least one of their main grievances: revenue sharing.
After spending over 100 days debating, threatening and horse-trading, at our expense and without proper appropriation, Chief
However, it is one Ibuchukwu Ezike, who was at the conference (and represented an outfit called
However, the problem is we cannot build reasonable arguments on mere falsehood and pet obsessions. Is it really true that the "host communities" do not benefit? Do they actually get only 13 per cent? These claims fall apart under careful scrutiny; they are assumptions that most people do not bother to check.
From figures available, it is clear that the South-South, with 15 per cent of the population and just over 9 per cent of our land mass, gets over 40 per cent of the statutory and special allocations. This does not include what they get from the oil companies; what they extort from all contractors executing any job in their locality; and others. But please do the math yourself, using figures for
Just for the record, the shares for North-Central, North-East and North-West, for that month, were 10.89%, 11.43% and 15.40%, respectively. The South-West with about 20 per cent of the population usually got about 13% of the allocations.
So what is this song about injustice and deprivation they have been continuously playing? Even without adding the amount extorted from the major multinationals and the trillions lost to oil thieves (who in any case need not fear anybody as the government has handed over our maritime patrol and surveillance to them) it is very clear that this propaganda has gone too far.
The conference did achieve something: it has exposed the emptiness of threats to break up the nation. Believe it or not, nobody fears that. It failed, however, because it did not address the criminal endorsement by some "representatives" for the abrogation of on-shore/off-shore dichotomy after they were bribed with peanuts. Only nation states have territorial waters, but not regions or sections thereof. It would appear that delegates to the conference played this down to get some consensus.
But if the resource control champions are not through with us yet, so let the debate continue. The inequalities and regional imbalances are grave enough to get even GEJ worried; giving more to the South-South will not be just, except if we assert our collective right to off-shore revenue. Those who are making all these demands should ask: where have all the monies meant for the South-South been going? Some of them already know; all they have to do is call their well-paid accountants, agreeable bank managers or send an SMS to their banks.
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