A civil society organisation, Policy Alert, has accused the Akwa Ibom Governor, Udom Emmanuel of failing to disclose the N171.2 billion derivation refund his administration received from the federal government.
Akwa Ibom State, in Nigeria’s South-south region, is among the top oil producing states in the country.
An Abuja Federal High Court, in June, ordered the federal government to pay over $3.3 billion to Rivers and Akwa Ibom States as share of recalculated oil derivation revenue.
The state received the derivation refund from the federal government during the third quarter of 2021 but failed to disclose this, Policy Alert said.
Tijah Bolton-Akpan, the executive director of Policy Alert, said in a press release that the organisation was disappointed with the state government for not disclosing the fund to the public.
Mr Bolton-Akpan said the non-disclosure of the fund to the public leaves a huge gap on transparency.
“We are delighted that the Federal Government has obliged to the refund ruling. This development explains why the State government recently reviewed their expected revenue on exceptional income: 13% derivation revenue arrears from N61.1 billion to N193 billion which is a 315.9 percent increase.
“However, Akwa Ibom people were not informed about this development during the presentation of the supplementary budget even after the state had received the fund.
“This leaves a huge gap on transparency. We were disappointed that the Governor’s 2022 budget speech was silent on this development when he reviewed the performance of the 2021 budget, especially given that N137.9 billion refunds from the Federation Account was proposed as capital receipts,” Mr Bolton-Akpan said.
He advised the government to channel the bulk of the fund into the development of oil producing communities in the State.
Mr Bolton-Akpan further called on the state government to consider creating a commission for the oil producing communities.
“We should not forget that this N171.2 billion coming into the coffers of the state seeks to address an injustice on 13 per cent derivation which was originally designed to ameliorate the impact of oil exploration in oil producing communities.
“What is good for the goose is good for the gander. Akwa Ibom State fought and got justice at the centre. Back home, the oil producing communities deserve justice as well.
“The state needs to begin taking the needs of oil producing communities seriously. Over the years, the state’s coffers have been enriched on account of these communities and as such, it is only fair that a legal framework be established to guide the targeted development of the goose that not only lays the golden eggs but also bears the brunt of oil extraction.
“Many states do this through the Oil Producing Areas Development Commission. It is high time Akwa Ibom State put in place a similar structure to enable the orderly, fair and targeted re-channeling of a percentage of oil and gas proceeds to extraction-affected communities,” he added.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Ini Ememobong, the state commissioner for information, he said the state commissioner for finance was the appropriate authority to speak on the issue.
Linus Nkan, the state commissioner for Finance, did not respond to calls or a text message seeking comment from him.
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