Oil producing communities in six states of the country have insisted on physical visit by the audit committee to be panelled by the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) to commence Physical Allocations and Statutory Disbursement Audit of the extractive industry from 2007 to 2011 in line with the decision of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at its November 28, meeting.
This they said, would enable the auditors havefirst-hand knowledge of what is on ground in the communities.
In a press statement signed on behalf of the communities by Chief William Igere (Delta State), Pastor MacPherson Kurobo (Bayelsa State), Chief Harry Opaks (Rivers State), Saviour James Okon (Akwa Ibom State), Princess NomwenUhunmwunagho (Edo State) and Comrade. Samuel Ebiwanno (Ondo State), they emphasised that it was illegal and unconstitutional to pay 13 per cent Derivation Fund to any state government account.
"This illegal and unconstitutional payment of 13 per cent Derivation Fund through the state governments has left the actual oil and gas producing communities in abject poverty.
"The state governments which received this money illegally used the fund to develop their state capitals and non-oil and gas producing communities, leaving the actual oil and gas producing communities in hunger and penury.
"In the light of the above, we therefore appeal to NEITI to interface with the oil and gas producing communities in their audit and investigation of the 13 per cent Derivation Fund. We wish to affirm in very strong terms that any report or audit investigation without physical visit to the communities hosting oil facilities is unacceptable to the communities," The statement said.
They posited that the physical visit of NEITI to the communities would enable the organisation to ascertain the level of environmental degradation, health hazards, pollution, poverty and hunger, heightened by massive unemployment among the youths of the oil and gas producing communities.
They expressed appreciation to all institutions they wrote letters to on the 13 per cent Derivation Fund disbursed through the Federation Account to the producing states including Chairman, Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Mr. Elias Mbam, who confirmed that the 13 per cent Derivation Fund belonged exclusively to the oil and gas producing communities and not the state governments.
They also commended President Goodluck Jonathan, for directing the audit of all oil revenues including the 13 per cent Derivation Fund disbursed through the Federation Account to ascertain the utilisation of the fund and also NEITI for its preparedness to carry out the directive of the President on full audit and investigation of the 13 per cent Derivation Fund early in January 2013.