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JUNAID: Matter Far From Being Settled

Published by Guardian on Sun, 02 Sep 2012

Lawmakers That Passed Current Revenue Allocation Do Not Represent The NorthNOTABLE northern politician, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, has thrown his weight behind those calling for a review of the revenue allocation formula, saying it would be in the interest of majority of Nigerians.He described as an aberration the onshore/offshore dichotomy law, which positioned states in the oil-rich Niger Delta region to earn more money from oil income far ahead of states in the impoverished states of the North.Junaid, who was a Second Republic minority leader in the House of Representatives and a member of the defunct OMPADEC, slammed those arguing that the onshore/offshore issue had been settled.According to him: 'It is a manifestation of both ignorance and arrogance to bring up the issue, which has been confronting this country for a very long time, as having been settled simply because what was supposed to have been settled was in favour of certain people who are in the minority in a democracy.'There is absolutely nothing settled about anything in Nigeria. I dare say that not even the existence of Nigeria, as a single entity, is a settled matter anymore. So, some certain group of persons bribed their way to get legislation, which unfortunately came through some corrupt legislators to revert an existing law.'Junaid listed some past and serving federal lawmakers of northern extraction (names withheld) as allegedly playing a 'disgraceful role in passing the current revenue allocation law as it is, who have not represented even the North.''They (the said legislators) are merely representing their own selfish greed in bringing out that law the way they did,' he said. 'And little wonder most of those who participated in the supreme act of treachery are now either out of the National Assembly; in fact, many of them are out of politics for life. All I care is that that issue is far from being settled.'He continued: 'Nothing in the current Nigeria can be settled because we are a transitional country, as everything about our economy, about our security and about our politics is far from being settled and I am sure we are likely to go back to the drawing board, to start all over again on so many issues, especially the issue of the revenue allocation formula because the issue of the onshore/offshore dichotomy is ultra vires.'This very issue is not a matter for a municipal law-making, which is within the competence of the National Assembly. It is also a matter of international law, which has been comprehensively dealt with in the international document called, 'Law of the Sea Convention', which has been ratified and is binding on all member-nations of the United Nations. So, I can't see how anybody can call that a settled matter.'Junaid said he was aware of claim in government circle that the matter had been settled. 'But let me tell you what has been done by man can be undone by man, and I have no doubt in my mind that the current revenue allocation, which is really absurd and obnoxious, must be reversed.'And I want to assure you that Governor Kwankwaso of Kano is not the only one behind this agitation. Every governor that I have come across out of the 19 governors of the North is against the revenue allocation law and there is the belief that Obasanjo and others were complicit in this act of treachery not only against the North, but also against the Nigerian federation.'Those states in the Southwest in particular, which pretend to have been living in delusion ' because I know because I have had discussions with some governors in the Southwest and who are still sitting governors in the Southwest that are bitterly opposed to it ' the difference between them and others in the North like Kwankwaso, who has come out to say their mind, is that some of the governors in the Southwest would like the North to come out and fight the issue for them for whatever reason.'I find that absolutely funny because if something is wrong, it is wrong not because it favours somebody or somebody stands to gain by pretending to be neutral or not to care about an issue, which affects so many people in this country.'The fiery politician said: 'I can't see how a law, which is so confrontational to over 80-90 per cent of Nigerians can be regarded as a settled law. This is not my own idea of democracy or the rule of law. I can't see how a law, which is being supplanted by the judgment of the Supreme Court, can be regarded as having been settled, which is clearly contrary to a subsisting judgment of the same court.'I can't see how a judgment, which is in direct confrontation with the international law, as stipulated in the Law of the Sea of nations, can be regarded as a settled matter. That issue is far from being settled; it has not been settled.'What has been made by man through bribery and corruption and manipulation of people in the National Assembly can be undone. I have said this law is untenable and it is not going to remain. There is nothing wrong in changing a revenue allocation law because this is not the first time it is being done.'If you look at the revenue formula before 1960 and after 1980, you can see that the law has gone through several changes. You will not believe that what they claim to have now is derived from the submission from the late Dr. Pius Okigbo's recommendation because what they have is nothing near what is enshrined in the Constitution. So, there would be change, there must be change and change is unavoidable in this issue.'On whether the formula has any connection with poverty in the North, Junaid said: 'I don't want to make any correlation between the revenue allocation and poverty in the North. All I know is that poverty is directly responsible for the situation of insecurity in the North and other parts of the country.'And I dare say that historically, wherever you have this kind of injustice, this kind of jerked-up positioning between the haves and the haves not, between the rich and poor or a system whereby the laws guarantee that certain people would continue to be rich and certain people would continue to live in penury, is a situation that cannot continue and this is the situation we have in the North.'Those who are sincere about the problem of insecurity in the North would have to go back to the issue of the revenue allocation that has impoverished majority of Nigerians. The revenue allocation formula is the one major contributory factor to the kind of security situation that we have in Nigeria, which is affecting everybody, and not just those living in the North.
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