Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, CBN Governor
By Yemi Adebowale, with agency reports, and Ahamefula Ogbu
Attempts to redress historic grievances in Nigeria’s oil-rich south may inadvertently have helped create the conditions for the Islamic insurgency spreading from the impoverished north-east of the country, so says Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
A revenue sharing formula that gave 13 percent derivation to the oil-producing states was introduced after the military relinquished power in 1999 among a series of measures aimed at redressing historic grievances among those living closest to the oil and quelling a conflict that was jeopardising output.
But Sanusi who spoke in an interview with the Financial Times Friday said: "There is clearly a direct link between the very uneven nature of distribution of resources and the rising level of violence."
He said that it was now necessary to focus funds on regenerating other regions if Nigeria wants to secure long-term stability.
"When you look at the figures and look at the size of the population in the north, you can see that there is a structural imbalance of enormous proportions. Those states simply do not have enough money to meet basic needs while some states have too much money.
"The imbalance is so stark because the state still depends on oil for more than 80 per cent of its revenues," said Sanusi.
The FT, in a further analysis of the issue yesterday, wrote: "Nigeria has made little headway raising taxes for example from agriculture, which accounts for 42 per cent of GDP. Northern Nigeria’s economy has traditionally depended on the government more than the south. Many of the industries set up as part of earlier efforts to promote national balance have gone bust or been sold off during a decade of liberal market reforms, power shortages and infrastructure collapse.
"According to official figures, the leading oil producing state, Rivers, received N1,053 billion between 1999 and 2008 in federal allocations. By contrast the North-eastern states of Yobe and Borno, where the Boko Haram sect was created, received N175bn and N213bn respectively. Broken down on a per capita basis, the contrast is even starker. In 2008 the 18.97m people who lived in the six states in the north-east received on average N1,156 per person.
"By contrast Rivers state was allocated N3,965 per capita, and on average the oil producing South- South region received on average N3,332 per capita. This imbalance is compounded when the cost of an amnesty programme for militants in the delta is included together with an additional 1 per cent for a special development body for the Niger Delta. To boot, the theft of oil by profiteers in the region diverts tens of millions more weekly from federal coffers."
In the past year, the extremist Boko Haram sect has been responsible for proliferating attacks on churches, police stations and other state targets. Just last week, it claimed responsibility for multiple bomb blasts that claimed nearly 200 lives in Kano. The size and sophistication of the attacks underlined fears that the conflict is spiralling out of control.
Meanwhile, Vice President, Namadi Sambo has rallied the 19 Northern state governors together in a bid to check the spate of bombings in the North by the violent Islamic sect Boko Haram and arrive at a collective action against the menace.
Sambo told State House Correspondents that there was no religious problem in the country but terrorist attacks for which all Nigerians must cooperate with security agencies to see to the end of Boko Haram. The vice-president said he has secured the pledge of the governors to cooperate with the federal government to weed out the group.
Sambo’s meeting with the governors held at his Akinola Aguda House residence began around 8.30pm on Thursday and lasted till 2.10 am Friday.
The vice-president confirmed to journalists that he met with the governors on how combat the Boko Haram menace.
He said: "It is a meeting with the 19 governors of the Northern states of the federation and the ministers of Police and Defence and the representative of the National Security Adviser. We have discussed the need for cooperation in the security of this country and particularly, the Northern states. And in this meeting, it is very clear that there is no religious problem, religious fighting in northern Nigeria.
"There is a threat of terrorists and the need to address this terrorism act. Nigeria is one country and we will do everything to ensure that we have peace in the North and in the country in general. All the state governments as usual will further cooperate with the federal government in ensuring that the safety of lives and properties is maintained in all parts of the country."
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