President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in the Presidential Villa held a closed-door meeting with four of the six South-south governors.
The meeting which held between 3 and 4p.m., was attended by Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom) and Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta).
After the meeting, Dickson who spoke on behalf of the governors, failed to disclose the purpose of the meeting. He also failed to give insight into discussions in the meeting.
Instead, the governor said they only came to see the president over what he described as pertinent issues about Nigeria and Niger Delta.
He was, however, swift to add that the meeting had nothing to do with party matters.
He said: “My colleagues and I came to have a meeting with the president on issues pertinent to Nigeria and South-south states and we had a robust discussion. Thank you. It’s not about APC or PDP.”
However, our sources privy to the meeting said it was to discuss the debilitating effect of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) huge spending on petrol subsidy on the derivation that should accrue to oil-producing states.
According to the sources, huge subsidy payment, which were being made before oil proceeds are remitted to the Federation Account, were adversely affecting the 13 per cent derivation that should accrue to oil-bearing states.
“The states are suffering because their derivation allocation had reduced substantially, and they felt that this had to stop, particularly because the practice is essentially unconstitutional, therefore, illegal,” a source said, adding, “They felt they could return to the Supreme Court to test the legality of the practice, but felt it was better to discuss it with the president first.”
The sources said Mr Buhari told the governors that he would look into the matter, pointing out that it was a sensitive matter that needed a careful consideration.
As at August this year, national oil corporation’s subsidy had risen to N3 billion daily.
Another source said a recent Supreme Court landmark judgment, which ordered federal government to adjust its share of proceeds from the sale of crude oil whenever the price exceeds $20 per barrel might have also been discussed.
This belief was spurred by invitation of Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, to the meeting after it had taken off.
The Supreme Court had on October 18, ruled on a suit brought by Attorneys-General of Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom States on the terms of settlement between AGF and the plaintiffs.
The seven-man panel of Supreme Court led by Chief Justice of the Federation, Mr Walter Onnoghen, had in a unanimous judgment, ruled that 13 per cent derivation accruable to oil producing states should be paid upon recovery as provided for in Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The plaintiffs, that is, the Attorneys-General of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Uwemedimo Nwoko; Bayelsa State, Mr. Wodu Kemasukde; and Rivers State, Emmanuel Aguma, now deceased, had in November 2017 sought the apex court’s interpretation of Section 16(1) of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act in suit number SC964/2016 filed on their behalf by Mr. Lucius Nwosu.
This section places an obligation on the federal government to adjust the shares of crude oil revenue accruable to the federation whenever the price exceeds $20 per barrel.
The plaintiffs had asked the court to determine if the federal government was not obliged to abide by the provision of the constitution as the grundnorm of the land.
Accordingly, the matter was resolved in their favour as the jurists asked federal government to accordingly adjust the sharing formula once the price of crude oil exceeds $20 per barrel.
Meanwhile, a new report by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has revealed that between May 2017 and May 2018, Nigeria earned $47,257,178,735 from crude oil, representing an increase of $13,112,090,598 from the $34,145,088,137 the country earned between May 2016 and May 2017.
This is coming as the corporation also clarified that even though it has been bearing the high cost of importation of petrol as the sole importer of the product since October 2017, it has no plan to review upwards, the N145 per litre price of the commodity.