Onshore/Offshore Dichotomy Issues Resolved –Govs Uduaghan, Akpabio • Clamour For Diversification Of Nigeria’s Economy

Delta state Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan and his Akwa Ibom State counterpart, Godswill Akpabio confirmed that the issue of onshore/offshore dichotomy has been settled long ago by the National Assembly and the Judiciary.

The Governors, who made the call during the Zonal Advocacy Workshop on Economic Diversification and Enhanced Revenue Generation (South-South Zone) in Asaba, said it was unfortunate that the issue of on-shore and off-shore was still on national discourse and enjoined Nigerians to lay it to rest.

‘’I appeal to Nigerians to leave the issue of on-shore and off-shore alone. This matter has long ago been settled and it should now be a no go area. Indeed I beg Nigerians to leave this matter for now’’, Uduaghan stated.

On his part, Akpabio said 20 states of the federation took the matter to the Supreme Court after the national assembly had addressed the matter and that at the Supreme Court it was settled and laid to rest wondering why it was an issue now.

Dr Uduaghan called on the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission to design ways of addressing the problems of oil producing states stating that the impact of oil exploration was heavy on states in the South-South zone and as a result deserves better treatment.

He specifically demanded for 50% oil derivation revenue which he explained will be used to heal the wounds inflicted on the environment of the Niger Delta region.

Explaining further he said ‘’Exploration of oil has dealt a fatal blow on the environment of the South-South region. It has caused environmental degradation, pollution of soil and river to the extent that fishing and farming are no longer viable occupations in the region.’’

The governor harped on the dwindling revenue allocation and said the time was now ripe for the diversification of the economy so that in the future, states could survive beyond oil.

Describing the workshop as timely Dr Uduaghan said his administration has mapped out strategies to build a state beyond oil explaining that he was already using oil revenue to develop other sectors of the economy.

Emphasizing further he said ‘’we are laying the framework to develop more industries and increase the scope of our micro-credit scheme. Besides, we are increasing our investments in agriculture so that we can use it to create more employment opportunities’’.

The governor, who explained that unemployment was mounting pressure on the economy of every state in the nation, said his administration was creating avenues through which youths will be removed from the streets and given employment.

The governor of Akwa-Ibom state Chief Goodswill Akpabio in his remarks called on the commission to look critically on oil exploration and compensate the Niger Delta region.

Chief Akpabio said Nigerians should not only share from the revenue coming out of the region but should also share in the problems of the region.

He said the production of oil in the Niger Delta states has now become a curse instead of a blessing especially as the environment of the region has been devastated.

The governor said the future of the environment of the Niger Delta states was now becoming bleak and anything can happen such as earthquakes and tsunamis because of the depth of oil exploration.

The governor of Edo state Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who also spoke during the occasion advocated for the development of the agricultural sector as an alternative source of revenue in the Niger Delta zones.

The governor who was represented by his deputy Chief Pius Odubu stated that the regions should also pay attention to the solid mineral deposits for nature has already bestowed them on the regions.

The chairman of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission Engineer Elias Mbam said the aim of the workshop was to map out strategies on how to diversify the nation’s economy so that the actualization of the vision 20.2020 will be guaranteed.

Engineer Mbam promised that the commission was committed in the campaign and expressed the hope that in the long run, the revenue profile of the nation will increase.

Earlier, governor Uduaghan charged the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to prevail on the governments of the federation to diversify their sources of revenue.

He said this when the chairman of RMAFC, Engr. Elias Mbam paid him a courtesy visit in Asaba, saying it has become urgent and necessary given the dwindling revenue accruing to the governments.

According to him, the sole reliance on oil and gas as the nation’s source of revenue was creating serious funding challenge for states and the federal governments.

He explained that the reduction in the federal allocation this year due to a drop in the benchmark as well as the new tax law which makes workers pay  less tax have complicated the issue of improving revenue generation for the states.

He therefore charged the Commission to sensitize states on diversifying their economies and creating more avenues for generating internal revenue.

He called on the Commission to sensitize states on how to depend less on Federal allocation and device means of increasing Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in other to be able to carry out infrastructural developmental in their states.

His words “This is the right time to inform other states on how to improve on their Internally Generated Revenue and depend less on Federal allocation”.

Dr Uduaghan thanked the Commission for acknowledging the State’s initiative: “Delta Beyond Oil” explaining that the programme enable the state to diversify into other sectors of the economy such as agriculture, tourism, transportation among others.

He noted that Delta has a law which states that 50% of the state derivation goes to the development of oil producing areas saying: “We have formed the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) to ensure that 50% of the derivation go to the development of the develop oil producing areas directly.

He continued, “It is the responsibility of DESOPADEC to identity projects in the oil producing areas of the state and allocate funds for such projects. We have so far released about 149 billion naira to DESOPADEC”.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the Commission explained that the goal of the commission was to sensitize states on how to diversify their economy beyond oil and gas in order to achieve the vision 20/2020 of the federal government.

He noted that the commission also has the agenda of advising states on how to device ways of generating revenue in order to develop their states without depending on federal allocation.

His words “We advise states and local governments to device means of generating revenue and increasing their internal Generating revenue, they should not depend totally on monthly allocation but regard it as a grant to develop their states”.

Engr. Mbam enjoined other states to emulate Delta State government’s initiative of building a state beyond oil and improve on their internally generated revenue for developmental purposes.

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