Chief Edwin Clark has asked Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State to as a matter of urgency, refund his alleged illegal and unlawful diversion of ₦1,077,450,286,552.17 on behalf of oil producing communities from 2015 to 2022 as 13 percent derivation fund. In an open letter to Governor Okowa which was made available to Journalists in Abuja, the Leader of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF said that it has become imperative for the world to know and the money to be refunded against the backdrop that for a very long time, the amount paid by the Federal Government as 13% derivation fund to oil producing States, have been shrouded in secrecy. According to the Leader, Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, it was Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers who revealed how much his State and other counterpart States that are oil producing, have been receiving from the Federal Government that made everyone to get abreast with the huge funds.
The Elderstatesman who noted that the 13% derivation fund is paid directly to the oil producing States by the Federal Government, stressed that State was to use at least half of the funds, to develop the oil producing communities in their States, because these communities are seriously affected by the devastating condition of the area as well as the effect of the oil exploration. Clark who noted that fund was designed to ameliorate for the suffering of these communities, stressed that for a very long time, the amount paid by the Federal Government as 13% derivation fund to oil producing States, have been shrouded in secrecy, until when Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State Rivers State, said how much his State and other counterpart States that are oil producing, have been receiving from the Federal Government. The letter titled, Open Letter 2 read, ” Your Excellency, this open letter is a follow up to the first one I wrote to you on 2nd February, 2023, asking you to give account of your stewardship, how you spent the monies you have received from the Federal Government; this time as it pertains the 13% Derivation Fund. Like I stated in my first open letter to Your Excellency, oil producing States receive the derivation fund on behalf of the oil producing communities. Section 162(2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, states:
Provided that the principle of derivation shall be constantly reflected in any approved formula as being not less than 13% of the revenue accruing to the Federation Account directly from any natural resources. “The 13% derivation fund is paid directly to the oil producing States by the Federal Government, and the State is supposed to use at least half of the funds, to develop the oil producing communities in their States, because these communities are the worst sufferers of the effect of the oil exploration. The fund is paid as a recompense or amelioration for the harms these communities suffer. For a very long time, the amount paid by the Federal Government as 13% derivation fund to oil producing States, have been shrouded in secrecy, until not too long ago, when the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Barr. Nyesome Wike, revealed how much his State and other counterpart States that are oil producing, have been receiving from the Federal Government. That statement by Governor Wike blew the lid off the container. The mind-boggling figures received by the State Governors/governments were made public.
“For some reasons quite surprising and difficult to understand, you were agitated when your colleague Governor, Nyesome Wike, made that revelation. More surprising was the fruitless efforts your officials immediately embarked upon to proffer explanation of what was paid, what was received and how it was spent. For instance, that you used ₦5 billion (five billion) to settle pensioners. The spontaneous reaction and fruitless efforts of you and your officials, got some of us very inquisitive. So, I decided to obtain from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, a certified true copy of the total amount the Delta State government has received from the Federal Government between 2007 and 2015, the period of which Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan was Governor of the State, and between June 2015 – December 2022, your period as Governor. My findings reveal that you have received a total sum of ₦1,077,450,285,552.17 (one trillion, seventy seven billion, four hundred and fifty million, two hundred and eighty five thousand, five hundred & fifty two Naira, seventeen Kobo); as 13% derivation fund in your administration. There will be need to give an account of this money. This letter will be copied to your predecessor in office Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, for him to also account for the money he received from the Federal Government from June 2007 to May 2015, amounting to ₦765,662,198,080.07 (seven hundred and sixty five billion, six hundred sixty two million, one hundred and ninety eight thousand, eighty naira, seven Kobo).
“From the records available, you have only released, in instalments, the sum of ₦232 billion to the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) out of the 50% of the derivation fund received, which ought to go to the oil producing communities. In fact, you kept under your control the total amount paid by the Federal Government, and dispense it as you like. This is ultra vires. The consequences of your action in depriving DESOPADEC and the oil producing communities what is due to them, resulted in problems with the New Delta Avengers in June 2017 which I addressed in my first letter when they accused you of the misuse of the 13% derivation funds; I reproduce here under. It is also necessary here to mention that on 10th June 2017 in a Vanguard publication, the New Delta Avengers accused you of gross marginalisation, milking and starving DESOPADEC to death and at the same time a monumental failure.
“On 20th of June 2017, I, Chief Edwin Clark leader of Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) released a statement in a Vanguard publication in which I pleaded with members of the New Delta Avengers to withdraw the ultimatum of June 30th, issued to Acting President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to compel you to tell the world how much was due to the Delta State Oil Producing Communities Development Commission (DESOPADEC) from the 13% derivation. Again on 29th June 2017, the New Delta Avengers responded positively to my appeal for them to withdraw the ultimatum and they temporarily suspended hostilities. It is, therefore, misleading for you and your officials to claim that through your development of oil producing areas, peace now reigns in Delta State, hence you are now producing the highest quota of crude oil in the country. As I write this open letter, hundreds of DESOPADEC contractors are being threatened by their banks; they are about forfeiting their properties which they used as collateral to obtain loan for execution of contracts awarded to them by DESOPADEC, because they have not been paid by the commission, and thus cannot settle their debts.
“The workers of DESOPADEC are not properly and regularly paid. I had received series of complaints from most of these workers as far back as 2017 & 2018, when I was in Warri. I had mentioned it in my first open letter to you where I said: Both the Managing Director of DESOPADEC at the time Engr. Makinde and Favour Izuokumor visited me in Abuja to appeal to you to make money available for their staffs and contractors who were being threatened by their banks and as a result I contacted you, when you were on leave and I hereby reproduce the text message I sent to you dated 24th June 2017; Your Excellency, regret my inability to reach you since our last discussion on DESOPADEC. While wishing you a happy and fruitful vacation, I pray you make some allocation available for DESOPADEC to pay their contractors and meet some overhead costs to avert any imminent crisis having regard to my appeal to the unidentified youths that will attract the Federal Government reaction. Safe journey and God bless.