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Lawmakers Clash Over Bill Seeking To Include Anambra In NDDC

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The bill to designate Anambra State as a member of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) sparked controversy in the Senate on Wednesday, with members expressing differing views during the bill’s second reading, Naija News reports.

Senator representing Anambra North, Tony Nwoye, introduced the bill seeking to amend the NDDC Act N86 LFN 2004 to include Anambra State.

However, the bill did not progress past the second reading as lawmakers voted against its passage.

Citing information from the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Senator Nwoye argued that Anambra State meets the criteria to be recognized as an oil-producing state.

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The lawmaker highlighted that the RMAFC, during its 139th Plenary Session on July 27, 2021, approved the attribution of 14 oil wells to the state, including Nzam 1, Anambra 1, 2, 3, Ogbu-1, Alo-1, Amesi 1, 2, 3, 4, and Enyie 1, 2, 3, 4.

In an attempt to persuade his colleagues to support the bill, Senator Tony Nwoye informed the Senators that the official allocation of 13% mineral derivation revenue has commenced from November 2021 until the present date.

Following this, chaos erupted when Senate President Godswill Akpabio presented Senator Tony Nwoye with a choice to either withdraw the bill for further consultations or subject it to a voice vote among the Senators.

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Akpabio, being the first to contribute to the bill, pointed out flaws in it.

The Senate President explained that the current nine member states of the NDDC (Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta, Imo, Edo, Ondo, and Rivers) were included due to their geographical location within the Niger Delta, which Anambra State is not a part of.

According to Akpabio, if Anambra State were to be included, it would imply that other oil-producing states such as Lagos, Gombe, Kogi, and Bauchi would also be included in the NDDC and recognized as Niger Delta States.

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Naija News understands that Akpabio garnered backing from Senators such as Seraike Dickson, Isah Jibrin, Olamilekan Solomon, and Eshilokun, while Senators Adams Oshiomhole and a few others supported the bill.

In response to Akpabio, the bill’s sponsor Tony Nwoye accused Senator Jibrin Isah (Kogi East) of providing false information to the Senate by claiming that Kogi State has been receiving oil derivation funds since 2022.

He said: “Mr Senate President, I have the record that Anambra State has started receiving 13 % derivation since November 2021, and as of today, Kogi State is not receiving a dime from the Federal Government. He mentioned Kogi and he was trying to misinform the Senate.”

However, Jibrin fired back, admonishing the Anambra lawmaker to limit his argument to his state, saying, “Kogi has started receiving oil derivation since 2022.”

“With due respect Mr. Nwoye I want to limit yourself to your presentation and your state. What happens in Kogi State is not your business. I am telling you that the information getting to me shows that Kogi is getting 13%, Isah stood his ground.”

Speaking further over the arguments, Akpabio urged Senator Nwoye not to rely solely on the letter received from the RMAFC, as it only offered clarifications on the 13 per cent derivation of Anambra, not Kogi.

The Senate President proposed an amendment that would consider other states, including Kogi, which has recently become an oil-producing state, as well as potential future oil-producing states. Akpabio argued that there was no need for the bill, as Anambra already receives its 13 per cent derivation from the Federation Government and benefits from funds as a member of the host communities under the Petroleum Industry Act bill.

Akpabio emphasized that the inclusion of states like Imo, Abia, and Ondo in the Niger Delta and, subsequently, the NDDC was made possible due to the presence of mangrove swamp forests. He further emphasized that if Anambra were to be added, oil-producing states like Kogi, Zamfara, and Bauchi should also be included.

However, Nwoye stood firm and refused to withdraw the bill, arguing that the oil wells in the Ogbaru community in Anambra were geographically similar to those in the Ndoni community of Rivers States, warranting Anambra’s inclusion in the NDDC.

“Check the boundary and map of the Niger Delta. The Ogbaru people of Anambra speak the same dialect as the Ndoni people; they share almost everything with the Niger Delta people, and that is where their oil Wells are located. That is where these oil explorations are being done, Nwoye argued.

Commenting on the arguments, Senator Seraike Dickson proposed the reinstatement of the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) in contrast to Nwoye’s bill, which he criticized as “absolute nonsense”.

He said: “The Niger Delta is one of the basins in the world, which over time has involved other states like Ondo State, Abia, Imo which are part of the basins and because of that they were included in Niger state.

“It means that now that Oil gas has been found in Gombe, they will now be included in Niger Delta. Maybe we have to go back to OMPADEC. They are already getting 13% derivatization, so maybe this bill should be stepped down for further deliberation.”

On his part, Adams Oshiomhole supported the bill, saying, “They (Anambra) deserve to be treated like other oil-producing states; with this, they can be on the board of the NDDC. Without necessarily changing the word Niger Delta, it’s about equity and fairness, so I support the motion.”

Naija News understands that Senator Nwoye’s submissions regarding Anambra State’s eligibility for membership in NDDC due to its proximity to the Niger Delta region were addressed by Akpabio, who stated that the National Boundary Commission would need to make that determination.

The bill was ultimately rejected following a voice vote, with the majority of Senators voting against its second reading.

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