Why North is against current revenue formula –Junaid  Muhammed
•Says oil produced offshore belongs to Nigeria, not South-south
From TAIWO AMODU, Abuja
Tuesday, May 08 , 2012

Muhammed

Dr. Junaid Mohammed, is the National  Convener, Concerned Northern Professionals, a fledgling group in the North, which sees itself as an alternative platform to the Arewa Consultative Forum, which Muhammed dismissed as having been compromised.

In this interview with Daily Sun, he restates the demand of the Concerned Northern Professionals for the jettisoning of the existing revenue allocation formula in the country.

Excerpts:
What informed  the formation of your group?
What motivated us? We were concerned by the situation in the North, mindful of the fact that majority of Nigerian  poor people are in the North, who live below the poverty line according to the United Nations (UN) and the United Nations Development Programme, (UNDP), according to these institutions, anybody living below $I a day.

Number two, it is clear that all institutions in the North have broken down and it has been compounded by the Boko Haram insurgence , which is nothing but criminal and overwhelming members of them are in fact, non Muslims, non northerners but are perpetrating atrocities  in the north and they are saying they are doing it with the name of Boko Haram. There are also some others persons, anybody who is ready to pay them, they go and kill your enemy for any other reason.

That’s the situation we have found ourselves. Now, it is enough to have any of these problems bedeviling any country or any society, or any community to have all of them, bedeviling any country, or whole region like the north and it is a major catastrophe and we thought over the last decade or so, the so called elders, most of whom are in Arewa Consultative Forum and others so called Northern Elders Forum and such other fora were up to the task and we thought they were sincere, to see some of these problems solved, apparently there were no sincerity in what they have been doing and they didn’t care less.

Most of them see these groups they found themselves as avenues for getting contracts from federal government, getting access to federal government patronage and other personal aggrandizement.
We have spoken to many of them in principle, we have spoken to them in private, ,sometimes we have to resort to the media to talk to them and say, look, you cannot lead your community like this and you cannot lead the people and find them in this mess and you insist that you are doing well. You aren’t doing well. Why not change your tactics? That’s what a rational human being  do, but apparently they aren’t prepared to do that and they believe that leading the North is a birthright; because they are legacies of Sardauna, they have the right to lead the North, whether well or poorly, they have the right to corner everything that belongs to the North.

In other words, this platform is a reaction to what you have claimed to be the docility of the ACF….?
(cuts in) Absolutely. ACF itself, the Northern Elders Forum, they keep changing their names but it is the same personality in most of these so-called groups. So, as far as we are concerned, the time has come for change, time has come  for new leadership.

Besides, if you are talking about human nature itself some people, who started their political careers in the 1930s became members of parliament, became  ministers and what have you. They cannot claim the same leadership, the same right to lead people in their eighties, in their nineties – it is simply not possible and dropping the name of Sardauna. Everything they do they mention, Sardauna, it shows they are insincere and fraudulent, because frankly speaking if Sardauna were alive today, he wouldn’t have been able to give the north the leadership it deserves, because he would have been 103 years this year and you don’t expect somebody at that age to do any  strategic policy formulation, but we realize that to use the name of Sardauna  has become also a franchise.

Are you saying it wasn’t proper for those who were seen around the late Sardauna to  mouth  his name in politics? Are you saying there was no mentoring?
No, he didn’t have any opportunity to mentor, he died when he was 57 and as I am talking to you now I am already 63 . So, there was no opportunity to mentor, because he didn’t know he was going to die early. Some of the people he was trying to bring up in his own image, some of them did well, some of them turned out to be a major disaster, because  after the death of Sardauna, the northern establishment simply became completely demoralized. Some of them ran away, so many of them hid their cars in the bush and claimed they were looking for ways and means of keeping body and soul together, but when they came back, especially during the military interregnum they willingly turned themselves into errand boys of the military.

That compounded the problem of the military, because we know in the military they aren’t democratic and these people encouraged them to do most of the diabolical things they did in the name of the north and that’s the tragedy.
Even when your group  professes to want  to tackle the decadence in the north, but there are insinuations that this platform was actually being funded by aggrieved politicians who lost out at the last general elections?
Can you be more specific, because if any politician was funding us…

They actually look at your pronouncement over the revenue allocation formula and the fact that your group  noted in one of your statements that President Jonathan actually set up constitution review committee of Justice Belgore  to perfect  tenure elongation?
In other words, you are saying it is Buhari who is funding us? Is that what you are saying?
No, I haven’t said that but there have been insinuations that your platform is bring funded by certain aggrieved politicians But if you say somebody who lost in 2011 election, it has to be Buhari.

Amodu,  do you think Buhari has the ways and means to fund us?
Do you think he is the kind of person, even if he has the means to want to fund this kind of thing? Those who say so are being unfair to Buhari and I wouldn’t want to even comment about it.
My political career and that of my family is an open book. If I  have been implicated with anything dishonorable in my life, I wouldn’t be opening my mouth to talk to you like this, the way I am doing with such confidence and sense of commitment. We aren’t funded by anybody, except we ourselves and there is no crime, no moral inappropriateness with us our funding ourselves, except  of course, you want to tell me how we fund ourselves, which we are going to do  with time. But please, forget about that. It is apparent nonsense.

You must have listened to the south-south governors reaction to your demand for review of revenue allocation formula, which you submitted is skewed against the north and other  non oil producing states.
What we said, in one of our communiqué, I cannot remember which one was that the derivation thing was corruptly introduced into the revenue allocation system,  and that  the way it exists now, it is big contravention of the law of sea convention which is the main canon of international law which regulates anything that affects the sea or which pertains to the sea.

Secondly, as the revenue allocation formula currently exists it is also against the judgment  of the Supreme Court which is supposed to be binding on us in a democracy. The highest court in the land has pronounced on the issue. Now, if Obasanjo and of course, politicians and members of the National Assembly, who took money from  south-south politicians and gave them this kind of thing, did that, there is nothing  wrong if somebody  says it is wrong and that we should go back to the basics: go back to international law, go back to our own judgment, by our own Supreme Court and make sure that we get the balance.

Thirdly, and this is what drew the ire of the so called south-south governors, I said  the revenue allocation law or formula is important that when you enact it, you do so with a sense of responsibility about the people  who are going to be affected and I said, putting so much money in the hands of south-south governors is counter-productive and will not solve the problem.

Since 1999 to date, they have gone trillions, what have they done with it?
Certainly, I said it is dangerous to keep that money in their hands because they have no objective capacity; that’s what Uduaghan was saying about their being insulted and I said, if he felt insulted by what I said, so be it!
What has happened from the time we issued that communiqué to date, is a vindication of everything we have said. His cousin, who paved the way for him to be governor is now in prison in London for thirteen years! Now, if the way they spend  their money, was the way it was supposed to be spent, no country  can  develop.

As far as I am concerned, we are against derivation, not because we have anything against them, but because we believe that the derivation principle was a fraud and it should be de-aggregated from main constitution, because the constitution, is supposed to be a lasting affair and the revenue law depends on the revenue profile; it can change within one week, one month and within a financial  year. No two financial year are the same; if you put the revenue law in the constitution, you make it virtually impossible to amend the law and also make it impossible for the law to be amended, without inviting a constitutional crisis. We don’t need constitutional crisis, we have enough already on our hands.

So, as far as we are concerned, we don’t accept  the revenue allocation formula and we aren’t  the only one. For example, the south-west states are short changed. As far as we are concerned, if we base the revenue allocation formula on a certain weight, which are clear, quantifiable and which are also reasonable and which can be implemented in equity.

Now, as  far as  I am concerned also when you lump the entire revenue of the federal government in what you called the consolidated revenue fund and you said before you do anything you must apply thirteen percent and deduct thirteen percent from the entire revenue,  you aren’t being fair and you are being grossly mischievous and unjust.

The huge amount of money, not necessarily in foreign currency but in our own currency which accrued, as a result of customs and excise duty, as a result of other revenue, which are non oil revenue, the way the current formula is applied, in their own understanding is that everything that goes into the consolidated revenue fund must first be deducted, thirteen percent  due to the so called derivation.

If they say for example that we are going to deduct, based on the oil produced  on land that’s fair, but to deduct oil, at seventy percent now produced offshore the entire sea and offshore production is simply not proper to be applied, because it is the common heritage of the entire Nigerians, not just the oil producing states. That’s why we have maybe we have to take care of our customs areas and make sure that our interest are protected at sea.
Now, there is no way you can justify what is happening now and this is a law  which as I predicted is going to be an harbinger of constitutional disaster for Nigeria. This  however doesn’t mean that we support the behavior of northern governors who have been running the country from 1999 to date.

Some of them, outside your zone who have actually moderated their views recalled  that when agriculture was the mainstay of the country and we had derivation it wasn’t contentious; why has derivation suddenly become an anathema in fiscal federalism when we have oil?
But first and foremost,  the Nigeria we had can be divided into Nigeria of 1960-1963, before and after. Now, if you want to compare what people have put in their own labour to produce and you say, that should be applied in an interpretation  manner and you compared with what wasn’t put there by anybody, in the south-south, then you are free to go and mislead yourself.

But they insist it is natural endowment…[cuts in] excuse me! What do you expect them to say?  Agitation has become a way of life, they encourage people to go and commit terrorism. So, what are they talking about? We know their argument and I have been in this debate from 1980  to date and there is nothing I don’t know about that area. In fact, I used to be sympathetic to their agitation and that perhaps informed government  to appoint me as a federal commissioner in OMPADEC.

So, I am not against the people. What I am saying is this: please, do what is right, because, in the end,  it will be better, not only for you, but for everybody else. At the moment, the states which are contiguous to the oil producing states they are victim of massive inflation; they are not getting the oil, they are getting the negative effects of  the inflation. Is it proper for them to suffer that way?
But how do we redress these imbalances?  We cannot sustain a nation in this atmosphere of  raging mutual ethnic distrusts and mutual suspicion?
First and foremost, let us disaggregate the issue of revenue allocation, otherwise we are daily waiting for a time bomb. That’s the way I look at it.  Secondly, any issue which is so contentious that cannot be resolved amicably should be taken out of the constitution; the constitution should be a paradigm of our national consensus. We must agree generally as a people and there are so many issues.

We must look at them and say, what are we going to do about them. Take them, one- by-one and apply goodwill, rationality, commonsense and objectively, they can be resolved. But if you start raking about issues which you are ignorant of —-you are telling me about when we have the groundnut pyramid! The groundnut pyramid was simply a means of storage, it didn’t confer any fiscal status to anybody. I came from Kano which was the main centre of groundnut pyramid in the whole of West Africa, what is there to show  that this was an achievement of the groundnut pyramid?
Now, come to the south-west also, can you say that it was only cocoa that produced, whatever they had in terms of development? That’s not fair. But be as it may, let us all  put issues to be discussed but let us get out those issues in the constitution which are so contentious that cannot be resolved amicably, then we go and discuss them separately. That makes sense than you talk about groundnut pyramid, vis.a- vis. natural endowment and some other bogus things you are talking about.

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