Delta State governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan has reaffirmed that the payment of the mandatory 13% derivation fund to oil producing and host communities is a constitutional matter, saying he would not be compelled or intimidated to act contrary to the constitution by any form of agitation from any individual or group.
Governor Uduaghan, who gave this clarification during an interactive media chat with newsmen in Government House, Asaba, said that the Federal governemnt was working according to the constitution by paying the money to the State government for the development of the oil producing communities in the Niger Delta states, adding that those advocating for alternative arrangements should seek the proper channels to express their objectives instead of heating up the polity.
According to the governor, those advocating for the 13% derivation fund to be paid directly to the host communities instead of through the state government and its designated intervention agency like the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC), should first go and study the constitution to ascertain if there is any section which confers legality on any association called “host communities” as a separate government of its own.
“I am not worried about the agitation by the group and i can assure you that it has never been mentioned in any of our meetings and we have never discussed it, so no governor is loosing any sleep over the matter”.
“I am sure you all know who is leader of this agitation don’t you? It is (Chief Wellington) Okirika, (the former DESOPADEC Chairman). In fact they met me recently in Warri and i told them that the payment of the 13% derivation is a constitutional matter and that they should go to the law court or explore the proper due process channels to challenge the constitutionality of the matter if they were not satisfied with the present arrangement. It is not in my hand. I can only do what the constitution says.”
Governor Uduaghan blamed the agitators, describing them as those who were no longer in a position to continue with their corruption and so were unhappy and are now trying to cause disaffection in the polity.
“The people at the head of this agitation are those who no longer have access to grab as they did before so they are now unhappy. What did they do with the money given to them when they were in DESOPADEC?
“None of the governors have told me anything about this agitation in their states. Perhaps we will discuss it in our next meeting but so far it has not even been mentioned and we are definitely not worried about it.”