At its meeting in Minna, Niger State on Tuesday, the secretaries to the governments under the league of states listed as members of the Hydro Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPADEC) - Niger, Kwara, Kebbi, Kogi, Plateau and Benue States resolved to demand the release of the funds accruing to the commission.
These states are believed to be affected by excess discharge of water from the Hydro Electric Dams (HED) in the country.
President Goodluck Jonathan signed HYPPADEC into law on August 24, 2010, but the government is yet to lift a finger to operationalise the instruments that would make the people benefit from the derivations accorded the communities in these areas.
The original Act provided for 30 per cent derivation accruing to the affected states, but a Federal Ministry of Power letter dated October 26, 2011 with Ref MP/HM/ABJ/27/V1 and addressed to Senator Dahiru Awaisu Kuta, who presented the bill earlier passed, demanded for an amendment in the derivation percentage and subsequently it was slashed to 10 percent and passed by both chambers of the National Assembly.
However, the commencement of HYPPADEC has been bedeviled by political intrigues and frustrated by a lack of political will by the Presidency. We wonder what kind of government would be disobeying its own laws.
Conceived in the mould of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) or the defunct Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC), as an intervention agency to address the ecological devastation faced by hydro-electric power generating communities, we wonder why the commission is yet to take off or why the president is yet to inaugurate it and there is no physical structure. It only underscores government's lack of good faith and commitment to the project.
But more worrisome is the plight of the people and communities around the hydro-electric power stations where the nation derives one third of its 3,600 to 3,800 megawatts. They were the worst hit during the last flood disaster for which government was quick to release N17bn. We are concerned as to who would account for the N350m allocated to the commission in the 2011 Appropriation Act and another N200m in 2012, which was said to be inadequate.
To fast-track the take-off, the Niger state government was said to have provided a temporary office and other facilities, but why would a President who is from a State that benefits 13 percent from oil revenue and where agitation to up the derivation is loudest be indifferent to paying a mere 10 per cent to another group suffering similar fate due to the exploration of their own resources.
Except the President wants us to believe that he signed the HYPPADEC Bill merely to serve as a springboard of support of the North-central zone and to divide the North in order to make his presidential ambition a fait accompli, he should allow the commission start work immediately.