11 November 2012, Nation, Abuja – A fresh move by President Goodluck Jonathan to resolve the row between Bayelsa and Rivers states over the Soku/Oluasiri oil wells suffered a setback Friday due to the absence of Governor Rotimi Amaechi.
The expanded peace session was expected to involve Amaechi, Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State and all relevant parties to the dispute.
While the two states bicker, a letter to the Accountant-General of the Federation by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) has confirmed that about N17.5billion has been refunded to Rivers State being revenue due the state from Nda and Okwori oil fields from 2007 to date.
The oil fields are part of the Soku/Oluasiri oil wells in dispute.
The letter from RMAFC indicates that refund to any aggrieved state, including Bayelsa State, is a normal practice once a proper boundary demarcation has been established between disputing states by both the National Boundary Commission (NBC) and the Office of the Surveyor-General of the Federation(OSGF).
The Friday meeting was to be a follow-up to a similar audience which the President had with Kalabri leaders and the Rivers State Government penultimate Friday.
It was, however, gathered that Amaechi, who had officially travelled out of the country, delegated his deputy, Mr. Tele Ikuru, and other stakeholders to attend.
But the Presidency is insisting on the presence of Amaechi in order to ensure true reconciliation of the two parties
As at press time, Governor Seriake Dickson was still hanging around in Abuja for his colleague from Rivers State to arrive.
Reliable sources who spoke in confidence said the meeting was fixed for 6.00 pm on Friday with the President suspending some engagements to facilitate the peace talks.
When it became obvious that Amaechi would not make it, the Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Ogiadhome, wrote a letter to the governor shifting the session.
A reliable Rivers State Government official said: “Governor Amaechi is interested in the resolution of the crisis. He actually travelled abroad for some engagements.
“Apparently aware that the Rivers State governor was not in town, the Presidency on November 8 postponed the peace meeting scheduled for November 9. The government wanted Amaechi and Dickson to sit and resolve the dispute.
“It is not true that Governor Amaechi avoided or shunned any meeting at the Villa. He has no basis to do so.
“As a matter of fact, the President through the Chief of Staff, Ogiadhome, wrote a letter which was submitted at the Rivers Liaison Office in Abuja on November 8 for onward transmission to the governor. He said the President mandated him to shift the peace meeting slated for November 9.”
“In the letter, the Chief of Staff also indicated that “a new date will be communicated.”
A letter RMC/O &G/34/VOL. II/263 from RMAFC to the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. J.O. Otunla, confirmed the refund to Rivers State by seven oil producing states.
Although the letter was dated January 17, 2012, it has thrown more insight into the crisis of confidence between the two states.
The letter reads: “I write to inform you that the Rivers State Government in a letter Ref. No. COM/FIN/T/01 of 3rd October 2011 requested for the payment of all the 13 per cent derivation revenue due to the state from Nda and Okwori oil fields from 2007 to date.
“The commission examined the request and confirmed that Okwori and Nda oil fields belong to Rivers State based on the Report of the Inter-Agency Committee on the attribution of offshore oilfields to Littoral states, 2008 and submissions by National Boundary Commission (NBC) and Office of the Surveyor-General of the Federation(OSGF).
“Furthermore, the 13 per cent derivation proceed from the two oil fields were shared amongst all the oil producing states from April 2009 to June 2010, while Akwa Ibom State exclusively enjoyed the proceed from Okwori oil field from July to August, 2010 and from July 2010 to January 2011 in the case of Nda oil field.
“It is to be noted that the Rivers State Government has since September 2010 and February 2011 been receiving its due share of 13 per cent derivation proceed from Okwori and Nda fields respectively.
“Consequently, the commission after considering the request from the Rivers State Government and the submission from both the National Boundary Commission (NBC) and the Office of the Surveyor-General of the Federation(OSGF), approved that Rivers State should be refunded the sum of N17,566, 394,965.18b by all the oil producing states being accrued 13 per cent derivation fund from April 2009 to January 2011.
“The amount to be refunded by each state is as follows: Abia (N226,253,896.74); Akwa Ibom (N9, 567,732,283.95); Bayelsa (N2 071, 164,678.46); Delta (N4, 142, 271,632.95); Edo ( N305,693,768.40); Imo (N260,733,722.65); Ondo (N952,544,973.05).”