An environmental activist from the Niger Delta, Annkio Briggs, has lamented current system in Nigeria, saying the North was highly favoured in scheme of arrangement.
She said the region has more local governments, more lawmakers, among others, adding that the North clearly has the upper hand in Nigeria.
Her words: “Today, we have a 36-state country with six geopolitical zones. The North has 19 states; the South has 17 states. Looking at that, you have a situation where the North has more senators in the Senate and the South has less.
“What that means is that, if there is a bill that will be in the favour of the South, like what happened with the Petroleum Industry Bill – there is no way that PIB would have been passed if the North said it should not be passed. In the North, you have 19 states, 419 local government areas, 58 senatorial seats and 191 House of Representatives seats.
“The South has 17 states, 357 local government areas, 51 senatorial seats and 169 House of Representatives seats. So, if the Yoruba, all the ethnic groups in the Niger Delta, and the Igbo who are members of the National Assembly agree on anything that would benefit their people, and the North say no, the North’s position would be upheld.
“We have six zones; all the zones must have equal number of states. You cannot have a situation where census was done and a state like Kano insists that it is more in population and therefore it must have 44 local government areas, but Bayelsa has only eight local government areas.
“When you have allocation that is shared based on the number of local government councils, you would find how unjust the sharing is. The North, in terms of oil and gas, produces zero.
“Yet, when we share based on local government allocation, the North gets 54.9 (per cent) of what we bring to the table. We (South-South) that bring 100 per cent get 45.1 per cent. Of course, it is injustice. When you go by state allocation, the North gets 57 per cent of 100 per cent that they are bringing zero per cent of, but the entire South is getting 43 per cent.
“In the allocation of oil and gas, the South-South brings 91.54 per cent, the South-West, that is, the oil in Ondo State is 3.97 per cent. The oil in the South-East is 2.75 per cent. The North-Central, North-East and North-West brings 0.00 per cent, and yet, they take home more.
“Somehow, people are able to overlook this and focus on the Niger Delta Development Commission that the government owes, and focus on Amnesty and the Ministry of Niger Delta.
“We are saying, ‘Let go of the amnesty. Let go of the NDDC. The Ministry of Niger Delta, let go off it. The North-East Development Fund, let go of it. Let go of every palliative. Let everybody use what it has.’ That is the only justice that we will entertain now and pay tax to the Federal Government”, Annkio Briggs told Punch.