Fed Govt unfair to Niger Delta – Akwa Ibom Speaker
The Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Mr. Onofiok Luke, has asked the Federal Government to disburse funds for the Ogoni clean-up with the same speed with which it released $1 billion to fight Boko Haram in the North East.
He asked the government to take necessary steps to ensure an equal release of funds for development programmes in the oil-rich region.
Luke also questioned the imbalances in the remittances to Federal Government accounts, which reflect in the remittances to states, especially those of the Niger Delta.
He spoke yesterday in Uyo, at a public hearing on the proposed constitution amendment.
His words: “There has to be a reward for the peace in the Niger Delta; we must learn to reward peace and decorum in this country. We have today approved the release of $1 billion to quell Boko Haram activities; we have no problem at all with securing our brothers and sisters.
“But the money approved for the clean-up of Ogoni has not been released till today.
That clean-up has not gone to the level expected, but we have gotten $1 billion for the fight against Boko Haram. We are not quarrelling with this; all that we are demanding is a level playing turf.
“The same way you are making quick release of jumbo funds to fight Boko Haram, you should be able to give even more towards development and as an appreciation of the peace we have ensured in Akwa Ibom.
“You should be able to do this through developing the states and funding federal projects, which produces the wealth from where the Excess Crude Oil account is funded.”
On the devolution of power, Luke said: “So many times, the Federal Government has failed to give the Niger Delta its dues.
Our dues have not been given to the state governments as they ought to. These are issues that devolution of power and restructuring will address.”
Present at the public hearing were former federal and state lawmakers, local government chairmen, royal fathers, youth and student groups, civil liberties organisations, labour and trade unions.
The house set up an ad hoc committee, headed by Udo Kerian Akpan, to meet with stakeholders and the public on the proposed amendments to enable the house vote on the 15 items in line with the wishes of the people.