FISCAL FEDERALISM: THE STRUGGLE FOR RESOURCE CONTROL BY THE NIGER DELTA REGION IN NIGERIA (1999-2014)
This research study analyzes the issues of fiscal federalism and resources control using the case of oil producing Niger Delta Region. This argues that the practice of federalism in Nigeria is undoubtedly skewed in favour of the ethnic majority groups in control of State power. The skew manifests prominently in the use of fiscal centralism in revenue allocation in the country that ultimately marginalizes the Niger Delta region from which almost all the revenue is derived. This situation that predated the present democratic dispensation in the country is a threat to the sustenance of the new found democracy. The current struggle for resource control stems from a general dissatisfaction with the anomaly in the revenue allocation for much. This study therefore throws light in the basis and the implication is such struggle for the economic development of the country. It is the contention of the academic exercise that only a genuine federal system based on a true principle of fiscal federalism and a fair fiscal policy can guarantee democracy, economic development and nation building in Nigeria.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The nature and condition of the financial relations in any federal system of government is crucial to the survival of such system. This, in most, if not all federal countries, one of the most constant sources of wrangles centres on the problem of securing adequate financial resources. Resources control is a very vital aspect of Fiscal federalism the very nature of Nigeria in terms of diversity of its people, the size of the country, their separate histories, cultures, a high heterogeneous society, made some forms of federalism inevitable.
The issue of resources control has gained currency owing mainly to the large scale ignoring of oil producing areas on which the wealth of the country is dependent in the development efforts. Clamoring for resource control is a quest to true and functional federalism or classic federalism. Perhaps by omission or commission, the underlining principle behind resources control is misrepresented and misunderstood in some quarters as being only in the interest of the Niger Delta people.
The centre stage that the resource control struggle now occupies in the national discourse is of deserving compensation. What they have not realized is that resource control or classic federalism is indeed a veritable path way to the nation’s rapid socio-economic development because it is a wake up call for all Nigerians to harness the opportunities in their immediate environment for our collective greatness. This assertion is buttressed by the fact that it is only through fiscal federalism of which resource control is an adjunct that we can upgrade our economic base to a multi-product as opposed to its current mono-product status.
The fact that there has been a lot of politicization in the scheme of things cannot be over emphasized. It is from this that the clamour for self determination by several ethnic groups in Nigeria recently assumed unprecedented dimension when the south-south governments called for control of the natural resources found in their geo-political region. Before then, the Ijaw nation under Adaka Boro and specifically the Ogbonis under the Ken Saro-Wiwa had at various times undertaken progressive campaigns to halt the exploitation and plundering of petroleum resources of the Niger Delta areas by successive governments in Nigeria.
The aggressive campaigns by the then president of the Movement for Survival of Ogboni people (mosop). The late Ken Saro-Wiwa to halt the aforementioned problem most especially the problem associated with the irrational exploration of crude oil in the Niger Delta area earned Ken-Saro-Wiwa’s death as punishment for his Mosop’s leadership for resource control. It is adequate to say that the agitation for resource control by the south-south state is aimed at appropriating resource located within their region. The advocates of resource control argued from two factors, firstly, the underdevelopment of the Niger Delta area by successive military government in spite of the bulk of wealth gotten from the Niger Delta area to sustaining the whole country come from the area. It is therefore, the argument of resources control advocates that despite the irrational exploitation of crude oil in the Niger Delta area. There is nothing to show for it in terms of development, whether infrastructural or human.
Secondly, the proponents of resource control posited that the clamour to control resource by the states is simply an attempt to entrench a classic federal system of government in Nigerian politics. Although the control of resource agitated by some states precisely the southern states does not go down well with some eminent Nigerians hence the contesting states are not celebrating the supreme court judgment on the suit field by Bola Ige the late slain Minister of Justice and Federal Attorney General on the Interpretation of (section 162, subsection 1 of the 1999 constitution) that touches on the distribution of the country revenue.
The issue of resource control and derivation formular is not a new phenomenon in Nigeria. It started as far back as in the colonial era. To be precise it was in 1946, during the regime of Sir Author Richard as the Governor General of Nigeria. And because of the problem of resource control a commission was setup. The governor general headed by Sir Sydney Philips on, the Commission was constituted to fashion out financial and administrative procedures for the country. The committee recommended “Declared revenues” which were exclusively for the regions and “Non-declared” revenues for federal government the accepted principle here was derivation, even progress and population in the order of importance. However, this did not benefit some regions and as such it was not accepted fully.
When military handed over political power to elected civilian in May 1999, the problem of resources allocation sharing was still not resolve. The governments of Niger Delta area stated making moves for resources control, a review of the derivation formula, a true federalism and a national conference: These agitation were later joined by the Nineteen (19) governors of the south.
It is from the very perspective that they project will examine the impact of resources control by the Niger Delta region on Nigeria fiscal federalism and also take a critical look into all problem in demands with the aim of identity and proffer solutions for the sake of co-existence and for the unitary of the nation.
1.2 STATEMENT OF RESEARCH PROBLEM
There is no doubt that there is retardation of the progress of the Niger Delta Region and Pauperization of its peoples. These situation have led to the wide spread poverty with over 75% of the population on or below, the poverty line, poor sanitation and waste disposal and pollution contributing to illness, absence of electricity and pipe borne water supply and most especially, severe environmental degradation which has an adverse communities impact from the exploration and exploitation of oil and gas in the region as these constitute part of the statement of problem.
There was also deforestation and shortage of farmland which has resulted in high level of unemployment as a result of oil exploration and the failure of the federal government to listen to the clamoring and compromise with the struggle for resource control by the people of Niger Delta Region as a quest for a true and functional federalism with principle inherent in the spirit and letter of Fiscal federalism and also the implication for the resources control shall all cover our statement of problems.
The Nigeria government over reliance of the federal government on the oil and gas sector of the economy and neglect of other sector such as agricultural sector and other untapped resource in other parts of the federation also constitute another problem of the research study. It also includes the Niger Delta region in their attempt to strive for justice, fairness and also equitable resource control.
Lastly, the influence of the multinational corporations and the compradors on the exploration of oil and gas in the Niger Delta Region is also one of the problems of the research study. As some Greeks are praying the water should not consume them as in the time of Biblical Noah or the Tsunami experience, the oil companies are busy spending protective barriers of their oil rigs and installation against ocean encroachment leaving their host communities to perish.
1.3 Objectives of Study
The objectives of study are as follows:
1. To understand factors responsible for the agitation by some states to control their resources.
2. To find out the impacts of the agitation by some states to control their resources.
3. To find out whether resources control can halt to or rather minimize the recurring problem associated with Nigeria fiscal federalism.
4. To find out whether resource control would either promotes centripetal or centrifugal forces in the Nigeria policy.
5. To find out whether resources control would bring development to the federating units.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The principal and dominance significance of this research study is that of the exposure of the members of the public to the controversial issues associated with the problem of Fiscal federalism and resource control. This is expected to raise consciousness and awareness of the members of the public.
More importantly, the project work will not only look at the conflictual relationship that existed between federal and state governments (Niger Delta states) but also to find or rather proffer solutions that will in turn enhance cordial relationship for an enduring federalism.
The study is desirable because of the overriding need to understand the inherent difficulties in the operation of federalism in Nigeria as it relates to resource control and its impacts on the contemporary times.
It is also hope that the study will in no doubt educate the public and various government authorities in their rights economically and legally on the issues of fiscal federalism and resource control.
Since the ends of any social science research is to proffer solution to a given social, economic and political problems, the study therefore is very significantly pertinent in proffering solutions to the problems associated or inherent in fiscal federalism and the struggle for resource control by the Niger Delta region.
1.6 Limitation of the Study
The limitations are built around its limitations, they are those factors inherent in the research situation that might affect the results which the investigators must recognize and acknowledge for the study. It shall also include the examination of horizontal developments and antecedents of theNigeria constitutions, acts, and decrees associated with fiscal federalism and resource control legal backdrop.
The major problem is that the information required is not easily come by as a result of the official bureaucracy involved in collecting relevant government materials.
1.6 Definition of Terms
Before going into more rigorous and systematic aspect of this work, it is necessary and imperative to begin by given operational definitions of certain terms or concepts whose clarifications are basic to the understanding of the whole work. The terms that are commonly used in this study are operationally defined as follows:
a) Federalism: This is the method of dividing powers so that the central and regional governments are each within its sphere coordinated are independents. It can also be seen as a constitutional arrangement for the distribution of government authority by area in other to maximize freedom of expression of cultural socio economic and political attributes.
b) Resource Control: This involves three major component of power, the right of a community or state to raise fund, by way of tax or person’s services and material within its territory. The exclusive rights to the ownership and control of resources both natural are created within its territory.
The rights of custom duties or destined for its territory excise duties on goods manufactured in its territory. It can also be conceptualized as a strict adherence to the principle of deprivation.
c) Fiscal Federalism: Fiscal federalism can be described as financial governmental relations among the different tiers of government in a federation. It is a consequences of federalism that is concerned with the relationship among the various levels of government with respect to the allocation of national review (National cake) and the assignment of functions and tax powers to the constituent unit in a federation.
d) Derivation: Derivation can be defined as revenues allocation principle by which certain amount of finance is allocated to the component units of the federation based on the revenue generated from the mineral resources of the area. It is seen as having the inherent ability, due to its relationship to taxes and compensatory features of overcoming the felling of alienation by members of any unit.
e) Niger Delta Region: Niger Delta Region comprises of Nine (9) states that are not actually united based on geo-political zone but bounded by their economic emancipation to control their God-given national resources of their region.
There are differences between the south-south zone and the Niger-Delta region. While the south-south zone is the geopolitical zone comprising of six (6) states which have vested interest bordering more on the political. The Niger-Delta comprises of nine (9) states. These nine (9) states which have come together are united in the struggle or rather are united in the fight for the economic emancipation of the region.
The nine (9) states of the Niger Delta Region are: Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross-Rivers, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers states.