By Constance Meju
Oil producing communities in the Niger Delta, tired of crying unsuccessfully for attention from governments despite trillions of naira specifically allocated to the area by the federal government, want the federal government to re-route the 13 % derivation fund direct to communities.
Ranking state governments very low in the delivery of social amenities to oil and gas communities, respondents to a recent survey findings on usage of the fund in four Niger Delta states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers states, lamented that even though they bear the high impact of oil exploration activities, there is barely evidence of development in their areas and very basic social services like water, healthcare facilities, light, public transportation, education opportunities are lacking while their youth struggle with a very high level of unemployment.
The new position contained in the “Report of Survey on the Use of 13% Derivation Fund by Selected Niger Delta State” anchored by Kebetkache Women Development and Research Center, Port Harcourt with funding from the Ford Foundation revealed that although state governments were mandated to establish special organ to specifically manage the community fund, only Delta State from the four studied, set up the Oil Mineral Producing Communities Commission, DESOPADEC and even that has performed far below expectation manifesting gross corruption.
The respondents accused the state governments of misappropriating the fund and neglecting the very people it is meant to serve.
The research looked at how the derivation fund from 1999-2012 has been used, what impact it has had on oil communities, examine institutions established to manage it and examine people’s views on how to make governance of the fund transparent and accountable to the people.
Two local governments, the host of the state capital and an oil producing local government areas were picked from each of the four states for the study with 100 respondents per state.
Following the outcome of the study which showed deep dissatisfaction with the state governments, the survey charged government at all levels to make concerted efforts to improve on the provision of infrastructure and social facilities to the citizenry, noting that it is the duty of government to improve live. It further stated, “the effectiveness and quality of public goods and services affect how the citizenry perceive the State as essential, indispensible, useful or otherwise”.
Most of the oil producing communities do not have potable water even with the high incidents of pollution in the region.
The survey outcome was validated at the Ford Foundation headquarters, Lagos, last November and the study team leader was Prof Sofiri Peterside of the University of Port Harcourt.