Gist

Fact about Bakassi 500M Embezzle fund

By Ekpenyong Isaiah-isababa

The recent revelation by the Chairman of the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Allocation Commission, RMFAC, that the federal government has been paying the Cross River State government about #500,000,000.00 monthly as stabilization fund since 2008 for losing Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon, and our 76 oil wells to Akwa Ibom State, is not new. Atleast not new to some Cross Riverians who have been following the Bakassi Peninsula case over the years. But it has remained a secret to the wider Cross River citizens who may not have taken so much interest in what is happening to the Bakassi people.

The news by the RMFAC Chairman has generated a lot of reactions with most Cross Riverians expressing shock and dismay that such money is coming into Cross River State monthly, yet, has no positive effect on the general wellbeing of the people of the state, or the Bakassi people who have been abandoned to their fate since the ceeding of Bakassi to Cameroon.

While what we heard from the RMFAC Chairman is actually what it is, only with little error of what currency it is, the fact that the usage of that money remains a top secret from 2008 till date, with the Bakassi people wandering everywhere; is the sad reality of leadership in Africa as a whole, and Nigeria in particular, and smacks of what religious people will call, man’s inhumanity to man. The truth of the matter is, that the Senator Lyel Imoke’s government for which that payment started and the current government of Prof. Ben Ayade may not be able to effectively give account of that money if called to question the usage of the stabilization fund. The highest we have heard from any government as it pertains to Bakassi people is the 400 Housing Unit by the Prof. Ben Ayade’s government.

WHO OWNS THE STABILIZATION FUND ?

The question of who actually owns the stabilization fund is one that has generated a lot of reactions too from Cross Riverians who are divided into groups that believe that the money strictly belongs to the Bakassi people and those that believes it belongs to the entire Cross River State, with the most recent detailed information coming from Citizen Agba Jalingo , a Cross River State born media practitioner and human right activist, who in detailing how the payment of the stabilization fund started, talked about the sleaze involved, the questioning of the usage of the fund by people like Chief Okoi Obono-Obla before, and went further to talk about how he contacted a reliable source from RMFAC who told him to correct the misconception held by some people that the #500,000,000.00 actually belongs to Bakassi people alone, but the entire State and that the money is in Naira and not dollars.

While I will wish to thank Citizen Agba Jalingo for the numerous good revelations he has made over the years which has kept our leaders on their toes and the fact that the money is actually in Naira and not dolllars, I will wish to draw the attention of Agba Jalingo to the fact that there is no misconception to correct as to who owns the #500,000,000.00 stabilization fund , as it constitutionally solely belongs to the Bakassi people and not entire Cross River State, and that the source he contacted in RMFAC may not be aware of this, afterall, there is no time Cross River State allocation from the federation account has been stoped and that is what other states without oil are collecting.

Constitutional Provision

The derivation fund is paid to the states monthly to assist their oil-producing communities in tackling environmental pollution and degradation, provision of basic amenities like healthcare, potable water and paved roads, and economic empowerment of the community people.

Section 162, Sub-section 2 of the Nigerian Constitution stipulates that the fund is for the exclusive use of oil/gas producing communities as compensation for loss of fishing rights and productive farmlands as a result of oil and gas exploration and production activities.

The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) also defines the fund as a financial incentive enshrined in the Constitution for oil-producing communities, based on their production input, to serve as benefits and encourage the community to create an enabling environment for more production of crude oil and gas.

Though most states collecting 13% derivation have flagrantly abused the usage of that money and flouted the constitutional provision which says the money is for the development of oil producing communities, it should not be lost on us that the money has name and ownership.

In the case of the Stabilization fund, we must all understand that the money is paid because Bakassi was an oil producing local government that it’s resources has been politically taken away to give Nigeria edge over Cameroon. If there was no Bakkassi, there will be no stabilization fund.

A CALL ON THE PROF. BEN AYADE’S GOVERNMENT TO IMMEDIATELY ESTABLISH A BAKASSI DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION AND CHANNEL 50% OF THE MONTHLY STABILIZATION FUND TO THE COMMISSION.

Currently, the people of Bakassi has no public power supply, no public water supply, no good roads and no functioning health care facility, yet, there is a 500 million Naira Stabilization fund every month from 2008 till date whose major part should have gone into the stabilization of the people of Bakassi.

Now that it has become public knowledge that this money may have been misused over the years, the Bakassi people being their brother’s keeper may not be demanding the entire money from now onward, but it will not be wrong if the State government immediately establish a Bakassi Development Commission where 50% of the stabilization fund will be channeled, to develop Bakassi, else, other options may be to challenge the ownership of that money in court and ask for its stoppage since it is not being used for the purpose it was paid for. This is not an attempt to challenge the government but a means to bettering the welfare of the Bakassi people. This option could be activated any moment from now. A stitch in time saves nine.

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