Two delegates at the National Conference Dr. Junaid Mohammed on the platform of Northern Elders Forum and Ms. Anniko Briggs, a South South delegate were in a near scuffle during a deliberation on resource control by members of the Committee on Devolution of Power.
Mohammed and some of his Northern colleagues argued that the South South was wrong to insist on resource control and 100% derivation whilst the North struggled with unemployment and insecurity.
He said, “I don’t envy this committee simply because the decisions are determined by mindset. As a democrat, I believe fundamentally in the rule of law. We are not compelled to have a nation.
“We have issues of unemployment in the North. We must have a way of sharing the finances of this country in a very equitable manner. Graduates are being pushed into revolutionary situation because they have no jobs.”
He called on to kick against agitation for resource control and said they should not support it.
A delegate from Benue, Jack Tilley Gyado said, “The South that is pushing for this resource control should also know that they are presently controlling the Presidency of this country. They cannot have the Presidency and resource control at the same time.
“I advise that we should be very slow in asking for more to be given. If Niger Delta states are asking for 100 per cent resource control and want to pay taxes to the Federal Government, I believe that the timing for that request is wrong. Why? We all know that we have serious security challenges that are ravaging this country.”
He argued that South South already had the Ministry of Niger Delta, 13% derivation, amnesty for militants, and that the agitation for resource control was ill timed.
Several other Northern delegates kicked against the agitation. Dr. Haruna Yerima, Borno, said, “How can the communities or states be laying claims to having natural endowments? We should fight to ensure that resources of this country belong to every citizen and not individuals.”
Alhaji Tanko Yakasai said, “All the resources we are talking about belong to the Federal Government. You do not control what you don’t own. This committee does not have even the right to discuss resource control.”
Yakassai added, “The colonial masters handed Nigeria to all of us not to any particular region. We should avoid a situation where these are cornered by individuals.”
But committee co-Chairman, Obong Victor Attah said, “The constitution was drafted by Nigerians and so we will discuss. We have the conference of this country to discuss this matter.”
Dr. Tunji Braithwaite, said, “The problem of Nigeria has been basically corruption. Nigeria is a rich country. It is the issue of corruption that has narrowed it to resource control.”
Chief Ayo Adebanjo, on the platform of Elder Statesmen, caused uproar when he said that Northerners enjoyed 50% derivation during the era of the groundnut pyramids.
He said, “If we really want to keep this country together, we must address the inequalities among some sections of the country. It was the military that gave us the present 13 percent derivation formula. How did they arrive at that?
“If we want peace, we should discuss that and if we are serious to be together. This is the last chance for Nigeria to remain together. Those who hold the property of this country should be in control of their resources.”
Chief Asara Asara a delegate from the Federal Government supported his position saying, “We will not beg anyone, we must control our resources and anybody that doesn’t like it, whatever he wants to do, we are ready to give it to them. My people are ready for anything not less than a total control of their resources. If the derivation formula was increased to 50 percent during the groundnut pyramid era, why the difference now?”
Junaid Mohammed and other Northern delegates began to insult those agitating for resource control.
Ms. Annkio Briggs supported the contributions of Adebanjo and Asara. This angered Mohammed, who attempted to assault the lady whilst hurling insults.
But Briggs said, “Who do you think you are, how many heads have you that you think if you abuse me, I won’t respond or abuse you back?”