Bakassi - Federal Govt. moves to appease Cross River
moves to appease the government and people of Cross River State over the economic and political losses suffered by the state following the ceding of the oil rich Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroun.
Last week’s meeting between the Vice President Namadi Sambo with Cross River State Governor and the Chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission in Abuja, specific instructions had been given to the agency to begin the immediate calculation of appropriate amount of money to the state, which lost its littoral status and payment of 13 per cent derivation to its neighbouring Akwa Ibom State.
Specifically, the RMAFC is to work out what is acceptable to the state and the Federal Government and make payment to the state with immediate effect.
Similarly, the source said the N300 million the state was getting monthly as at 2008 when the National Boundary Commission said that the state was no longer entitled to oil revenue having lost its oil wells, and was put in an escrow account, might also be returned to the state.
Federal Government for the state, a competent source said the amount might be close to what the state was getting from the 13 per cent derivation fund before the 76 oil wells were given to Akwa Ibom State last July.
A top government official, who did not want to be named, said that the Federal Government was hiding under the law setting up the RMAFC to give out the funds to Cross River State to stave off any resentment from the state against the President or the PDP, which has been in control of the state since 1999, in the next election.
The section of the law makes it possible for the Federal Government to put aside some money for any state that suffers some losses beyond its control.
It was, however, gathered that the amount to be given to the state would be for a specific period to be determined by the RMAFC. A source who is familiar with the plan by the Federal Government to ‘settle’ Cross River State, noted that the move might not be unconnected with efforts by the centre to appease the aggrieved natives of the state, who feel betrayed twice by the government they worked for during the last general elections.
The source said that leading politicians in the state had made it abundantly clear to the government that they would no longer trust or support the government if urgent steps were not taken to compensate them over the monumental losses they had incurred following the ceding of Bakassi to Cameround and the 76 oil wells to their neighbours.
“These points have been placed before the Federal Government and I think that it was based on our position that they moved last week to call a meeting with a view to addressing our grievances.
“But what we want to know is, if you are giving us money now, how long will the gesture last?
“What becomes of Cross River State when another administration comes into office?, the source questioned.
Last January, Cross River State received a total of N4.48 billion from the federation account as its revenue for the month.
But it lost everything in July when the Supreme Court ruled that following the ceding of Bakassi to Cameroun, Cross River was no longer a littoral state and was not entitled to any oil offshore oil revenue.
Akwa Ibom State, which benefitted from the ruling however opted to offer its neighbours N250 million monthly but that was flatly rejected by the Cross River State, which felt humiliated by the gesture.
After his meeting with Sambo, Akpabio and other top government officials in Abuja last week, Cross River State Governor, Sen. Liyel Imoke, said the meeting was to explore ways and means of addressing challenges being faced by his state as a result of ceding Bakassi to Cameroun.
“Some of the challenges are humanitarian, social, security issues and financial. At the meeting, the VP directed Federal agencies to look at ways and means of addressing the problems.
“The VP has also directed that we look at the complaints and asked that we forward them to him and to the office of the Attorney General with evidences that may have captured possible human rights abuses,” the governor said.
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