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Okowa Accuses FG Of ‘Cheating’ N’Delta With Withdrawal From Excess Crude Account

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Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state, says for any withdrawal from the Excess Crude Account, the federal government must, first of all, apply the constitutional principle of deducting the 13 percent and send it back to the Niger Delta states.

The governor stated this on Thursday when members of Post Mortem Sub-Committee of the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) led by Mr Kabir Mashi paid him a courtesy visit at Government House, Asaba, the state capital.

Okowa said it is unfair and inequitable for the federal government to continued to dip hands into the excess crude account without remitting what is due to the Niger Delta states.

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According to him, “The Excess Crude Account is for the interest of all and we do not frown at the withdrawal of money from the excess crude account but, as we have always said, for any withdrawal from the account, first of all, we must apply the constitutional principle of deducting the 13 percent and send it back to those it belongs to.

“The rest of it becomes the federation’s money that can be applied in the agreement of all; for instance, the issue of withdrawal of one billion dollars to support the military agencies would not have taken place.

“As states from the Niger Delta area, we were not against it, but, it is only implied that in withdrawing that money, provisions must be made for the 13 per cent for the states, otherwise, it will look like we are disobeying the constitutional principles.

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“It makes the Niger Delta states to contribute far beyond what all other states are contributing and that obviously is not fair and equitable and we will continue to advocate for fairness.

“It got to the House of Assembly to affirm the resolution that yes, we are supportive of the fact that money can be withdrawn but the resolution had to be passed in other states insisting that the constitutionally provided 13 per cent derivations should be deducted and returned to the states for fairness. This has happened in several other issues and it is important we start to look into it.

“Beyond all the things that we do in terms of infrastructure in the Niger Delta, we spend a lot of money to secure the facilities that belong to each and every one of us on behalf of all other states.

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“We spend a lot of money far beyond what is expected – the military and other security agencies are doing their best but there is a lot more that we do as a state government in support of their services,’’ the governor explained.

The governor also decried the lack of adequate implementation of the 13 per cent derivation policy, stating that it was constitutional for the Federal Government to remit what was due for the states to them.

He demanded the release of the money already accruing to the states under the derivation principles.

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“We are hoping that in the near future we will be looking beyond 13 per cent which it is for now, and we actually believe that there is need to ensure that the money gets to Niger Delta states. As a state, we do understand that we are part of the federation and we pray and continue to work towards the unity of our nation.

“We also believe that it is important that for us to continue to show the kind of commitment we keep showing, every administration and finances of the nation must be done in such a way that there is fairness and justice.

“There should be an equitable approach to that and in so doing, the laws of the federation must be obeyed at all times and I guess that is why, in all fairness, this committee was put in place.

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“As a state, we do understand that the oil resource as agreed by our nation is for the good of all but, very particularly, we have always insisted on the fact that since there is a constitutional provision for 13 per cent derivation, at all times we must apply that principle for the good of all.

“This makes it equitable, because until people come to understand the terrain, until the difficult terrains, particularly the creeks and riverside areas are being visited, people cannot completely comprehend the challenges that actually confront the people of the Niger Delta,’’ he said.

Earlier, Mashi had said that members of the sub-committee were in Asaba for a meeting to review the benchmark used for monthly transfer of Excess Crude, PPT and Royalty Account.

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“The assignment arose as a result of complaints made by members from the oil-producing states on the transfers and withdrawals from the Excess Crude Account without removing 13 per cent derivation to oil producing states,” he said.

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