Developing story: Rivers may offer some oil wells to Imo if..
The Rivers State Government Friday demonstrated it could still respect the agreement reached between it and its Imo counterpart during the Odili era.
But it would however be up to Imolites who lost all the oil wells in dispute,17 of them, on the heel of a Supreme Court ruling, to make the move.
Governor Nyesom Wike who addressed stakeholders in Port Harcourt Friday, explained why it had to fight to protect what belongs to it.
“To actualise the spurious claims”, Wike explained, “he (Ihedioha) stealthily wrote a letter dated August 9, 2019 to President Muhammadu Buhari and requested the refund of N15 billion from Rivers to Imo as backlog of proceeds from the 13 per cent derivation revenue of the oil wells.
Late Abba Kyari ceded oil wells belonging to Rivers State to Imo State on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Acting on Ihedioha’s letter, the President warranted a letter to be written to the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) through the late Chief of State, Mr. Abba Kyari, to alter the status quo in favour of Imo without reference to the subsisting dispute and agreement between the two states.”
“It bears repeating that the quest to defend our ownership rights through the courts over the Akiri and Mbede oil wells was not intended to claim victory over Imo or any other state.
Emeka Ihedioha… His bid to take control of what belongs to Rivers State now an albatross for Imo State.
“We also deplore the collusive actions of the National Boundary Commission (NBC), which, unfortunately, has functioned more in causing confusion than resolving boundary disputes” Wike stressed.
Offer from Port Harcourt:
Governor Wike hinted that the Imo State Government did not for once consider the need to explore a political solution while briefing stakeholders.
He said, despite his state’s victory at the country’s apex court, the Rivers State Government is willing to extend its hand of fellowship.
Governor Nyesom Wike… Sounding conciliatory in victory.
“This, we may readily oblige, notwithstanding Ihedioha’s action, who, despite the extensive support and goodwill he received from the government and people of Rivers to become governor, led the onslaught and created a wedge between two brotherly states.”
The offer to listen to, or accommodate a request from a brother-state after months of litigation is quite unusual.
It may indeed be proof of the resolve of government on the Rivers side to maintain excellent ties with the Imolites on the other side.
Will Imo be too proud to ask?
Governor Hope Uzodinma… What will he do?
Observers are watching to see what the reaction of the Imo State Government will be.
Will the Imo State Government take the offer that is being made now that Rivers appears to be willing to extend a hand of friendship?
As at the time of filing this report, there has been no official reaction from Owerri, either to the ruling or the position of the Rivers State Government.
Somehow, there are indications which suggest, the Imo State Government may be contemplating an appropriate response to the ruling and comments that are coming from Port Harcourt.
Wike had hoped in his speech that Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State take the matter in good faith and would not seek to denigrate the integrity of the nation’s justice system, particularly that of the Supreme Court, as a result of rulings that did not go his way.
So far, what is seemingly on the table is the offer by the Rivers to consider a political solution to the unfortunate scramble over the 17 oil wells by the Imo State Government.
Wike has demonstrated a large heart, an analyst said in a chat.
“This is certainly evidence of his large heart. It is also a demonstration of able leadership. There would be less acrimony if leaders were to act like this. This is a carrot Imolites cannot, or should not refuse.”
Loss of Considerable Revenue:
Since the advent of Nigeria’s Fourth Republic in 1999, eight oil and gas producing states have pocketed over N9 trillion under the derivation principle.
The states are Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers.
Imo in 2019 received N10 billion from the derivation fund. In 2020, Imo received N9.1 billion recording a marginal drop in revenue when compared with the preceding year.
In 2021, its official receipts from distributable oil revenue rose marginally to N9.98 billion.
Dr Peter Odili… Worked out an acceptable formula with Governor Achike Udenwa which allowed their states to share the oil wells on 50-50 basis until Ihedioha struck.
Coincidentally, according to Business Day, available date indicates that there is a correlation between higher federal revenue allocation, IGR and development.
It reports that three states with highest revenue generation statistics, namely Lagos, Rivers and Akwa Ibom, have made greater impact on the lives of the citizens than the other rent-dependent states such as Jigawa, Imo, Sokoto etc.
Imo which tried to outsmart Rivers is expected to lose considerable revenue required to fund its budgets, going forward.
The loss would equally affect the pace of development, particularly in the oil bearing areas which have been repeatedly short – changed.
Averting Doom’s Day:
Governor Hope Uzodinma and Senator Rocha’s Okorocha, two figures who may put heads together to decide the way forward for Imo. Rocha’s shares close ties with Wike.
How to avert doom’s day may be what government officials in Imo would be grappling with at this time.
Revenue accruing from internally generated revenue has dwindled in the South East since the crisis over self determination began.
The usual sit at home orders issued by IPOB have significantly affected earnings from the marketplace.
With Imo losing all of the oil wells that it controlled in the Ndoni and Egbema axis, following a political solution that Governor Peter Odili and Governor Achike Udenwa put in place, that State would most certainly suffer a setback financially.
The only option open in the short term for Imo to regain its losses for staking a claim over Rivers interests may lie in Governor Uzodinma accepting the carrot that Wike has extended.
Will the Imo State Government in defeat reciprocate the offer of understanding that is coming from Port Harcourt as proof of its willingness to promote good neighbourliness?
Only time will tell.
So far, Rivers people have not reacted irrationally to the offer made by their government to accommodate Imo State if need be.
For now, there are jubilations in Rivers while Imolites sulk, pain written all over their faces.
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