2014 NATIONAL CONFERENCE
JULY 7, 2014
CONFAB DELEGATES DEBATE DEVOLUTION OF POWERS, RESOURCE CONTROL
Fervent debates flourished during the plenary session of the
National Conference on Monday as conferees commenced debate on
the report of the Committee on Devolution of Power.
The slim-volume submission, loaded with serious issues, focused
principally on devolving power from the centre to the federating
units; and the issue of resources.
The report was however applauded by the delegates shortly after
it was presented by the co-chairmen, Obong Victor Attah, the
former governor of Akwa Ibom State; and Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie,
the former Inspector General of Police.
Critically examined in the report, whose recommendations would
be subjected to vote by the Conference later, were the issues of
resource control, derivation principle, revenue sharing and the
development and exploitation of mineral resources nationwide.
The report also examined 68 items cited in the Second Schedule,
Part One of the 1999 Constitution which deals with the Exclusive
Legislative List; and 30 items contained in Part Two of the
Fourth Schedule that deals with the Concurrent Legislative List.
While most delegates from the South, particularly, the South
South and South East said derivation should be increased from
the present 13 percent to between 21.5 and 50 per cent, others
suggest it should be reduced further from where it is now.
Resource control, perhaps, was the most debated aspect of the
report. Each delegate, depending on where he or she comes from
either wanted considerable level of control of resources in view
of the adoption of true federalism by the Conference while
others said the issue did not arise as far as they are
Those who canvassed the view that states should control their
resources said they did so in the spirit of devolution of power
which allows the states to only pay or make appropriate
financial contributions to the Federal Government.
Others argued that mineral resources in Nigeria are owned in law
by the Federal Government as contained in Section 44(3) of the
1999 Constitution, as amended.
Section 44(3) states that: “Notwithstanding the foregoing
provisions of this section, the entire property in and control
of all minerals, mineral oil and natural gas in, under or upon
any land in Nigeria or in, under or upon the territorial waters
and the Exclusive Economic Zone of Nigeria shall vest in the
Government of the Federation and shall be managed in such manner
as may be prescribed by the National Assembly.”
In its report, which is still subject to ratification by the
Conference, the Committee said that after prolonged heated
discussion on resource control, it unanimously agreed that the
issue of derivation should rather be discussed instead of
It said its decision was informed by the emotive nature of the
issue, which in the Committee’s view was capable of
destabilizing the country.
On derivation, the Committee said some delegates were of the
view that derivation should be increased either in a quantum or
gradual manner; while others were opposed to any form of
Instead, it said some members had proposed the reintroduction of
the off-shore/off-shore oil dichotomy in derivation payments; at
the same time, others stood up against it.
It reported that even the abolition of intervention measures
such as the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Niger Delta
Development Commission and the Amnesty Programme were robustly
After long debates which spanned four days on the issue, the
report indicated that a consensus was reached on the issue to
the effect that the status quo be maintained in order to avoid
upsetting the existing peace and equilibrium in the polity which
it described a s a product of years of political engineering and
On fiscal federalism which basically deals with how revenues are
generated and distributed among the federating units in the
federation, the Committee concluded that the powers conferred on
the Federal Government to keep custody of and determine the
terms and manner of fund allocation from the Federation Account
negate the principles of fiscal federalism.
The Committee spotted what it called imbalance in favour of the
Federal Government in the sharing formula and maintained that
the imbalance has adversely affected the performance of the
federating units. It therefore asked for a review.
It recommended that the powers of the Federal Government under
Section 162(3) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, to
prescribe the terms and manner of sharing national revenue
should be exercised through the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation
and Fiscal Commission.
The Committee said RMAFC shall at the same time consult the
federal and state governments before presenting a draft Bill on
the matter to the National Assembly for enactment into law.
On vertical revenue sharing, which deals with how revenue is
disbursed to federating units, the Committee emphasized the need
for equilibrium between the central government and the
federating units comprising states and local government.
It carried out examination of specific development challenges of
states and local government and concluded that to a great
extent, rapid economic and social development could be achieved
in the country if the percentage of revenues allocated to states
and local governments were reviewed upwards.
It recommended that the sharing formula for funds accruing to
the Federation Account among the three tiers of government
should be: Federal Government 42.5% instead of the present
52.68%; State Government 35% instead of the current 26.72%; and
the Local Government 22.5% to replace the current 20.60%.
The committee further recommended that the percentage given to
population and equity of states in the existing sharing formula
be reduced while that assigned to social development factor
should be increased to a higher percentage to ensure accelerated
development of all parts of the country.
The proposed sharing formula by the committee is based on:
diminished emphasis on principles of equality of states and
population; increased emphasis on social development factor; and
internally generated revenue.
On Mines and Minerals including oil fields, oil mining,
geological surveys and natural gas, the committee recommends
that they should be retained on the Exclusive Legislative List
as specified in the 1999 Constitution but should be amended to
“The governments of states where the mining activities take
place shall be involved in matters relating thereto; (and that)
the government of the federation shall create a special fund to
develop mines and minerals in states where such resources are
According to the committee, the overriding need to bring all
other mineral resources of the country, hitherto undeveloped,
into the mainstream development by activating National Strategic
Plan for exploitation of minerals to boost their contribution to
Gross Domestic Product(GDP), were considered in making this
Still on mineral development, the Committee recommends a
constitutional provision for the establishment of a Special Fund
for the development of mineral resources in the country.
It further proposed that 4.5% of the total revenue accruing to
the federation should be devoted to this special fund when
In addition, the Committee wants the Special Fund to be in the
form of a Venture Capital Fund and that a competent body should
be established to administer the Fund according to the
guidelines that shall be specified by the National Assembly.
Before the presentation of the committee’s report to the
Plenary, a delegate, Professor Awalu Yadudu, addressed the
conference to “state his own part of the story” on the raging
controversy of “consensus group and the existence of position
Yadudu debunked insinuations that he was primed to “scatter” the
conference as claimed by another delegate but rather insisted
that his decision to opt out of the consensus committee was
informed by the fact that most of the decisions adopted in the
position paper to be presented to the plenary of the conference
were not part of the recommendations of any committee.
Earlier an Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, had addressed the
conference and harped on the need by delegates to put the
interest of the country above sectional and personal interest.
Chief Clark expressed regret that the Consensus committee
constituted to resolve contentious issues that may arise in the
course of adoption of the recommendation of committees was
Clark said he was sad that issues that could scatter or dent the
credibility of the Conference were being raised as the
Conference was about ending.
He said everyone must understand that Nigeria “is made up of
equal citizens. Nobody is superior to the other. We came to this
conference in order to have consensus on contentious issues.”
He appealed to delegates to see National Conference as an ample
opportunity to contribute their quota to the task of reforming
ASSISTANT SECRETARY, MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS
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