Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The coalition of militant groups in the nine states of the Niger Delta region under the aegis of Reformed Niger Delta Avengers (RNDA) has declared their support for the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege over his comment on the alleged diversion of the 13 per cent oil derivation funds by Governors of the oil-producing states.
The RNDA has also thrown its weight behind plans by President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the National Assembly checkmate Niger Delta governors on the 13 per cent derivation fund with the establishment of a Coastal Royal Development Agency to ensure direct funding of development and empowerment projects to oil-producing communities in the region.
According to the RNDA, though the informed position on the misappropriation of the 13 per cent derivation by state governors is included in the 12-point demand of the militant groups to the Federal Government, the position of Omo-Agege further buttress the Federal Government’ position on the review of key issues including the payment of gas flare penalty funds, the utilization of the 13 per cent derivation funds, direct involvement of Oil producing Communities in the sharing of the funds and the involvement of the Host Communities (HOSTCOM) in the issue of pipeline surveillance security contract jobs.
The RNDA, in a communiqué issued after its meeting via electronic mail and signed by its coordinator, Johnmark Ezonebi aka Gen Obama, stated that consensus had been reached among the group, stakeholders and traditional rulers that the militant group should step down its recent 21 days ultimatum and allowed President to address their grievances.
The group revealed that the ongoing discussion with the Federal Government has led to a meeting which had in attendance Omo-Agege, the Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio, the Senior Special Adviser to President on Niger Delta, Sen. Ita Eyang including the coordinator of the presidential Amnesty programme, Rtd Col Dikkio Milland and the Hon Minister of Petroleum Resources State, Chief Timipre Sylva with some serving Senators and House of Reps members from the region.
“At the meeting, the deputy Senate president on behalf of the federal government reassured the dialogue delegation team headed by High Chief Wallington Okrika that all the key critical issues raised by them will not be thrown into the dustbin and that the release of the gas flare penalty funds will be addressed and also the 13 percent derivation funds that end in the hands of the Niger Delta State Governors instead of the funds to go directly to the oil producing communities that are suffering from the oil exploitation and exploration activities in the creeks.
“The funds which were originally approved by the federal government to address the sufferings of the oil producing communities is now being allegedly diverted by this Governors will be looked into critically and the federal government will set up 13 per cent derivation trust fund or Coastal Royal 13 per cent derivation development agency will be established with a legislative backing in order to address this man-made perpetual injustice created by the governors of the Niger Delta.