Delta - Gov. Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta said a total of N149 billion was released to oil producing communities in the state for development projects in the last five years.
Uduaghan gave the figure in Asaba on Monday, when members of Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) led by its Chairman, Mr Elias Mbam, paid him a courtesy visit.
Members of the commission were in Asaba for their zonal advocacy workshop on economic diversification and enhanced revenue generation.
The governor said the amount was released through the Delta State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (DESOPADEC), the government agency that executes development projects in oil producing communities.
He said that the clarification became necessary given a statement credited to the RMAFC chairman last week, which accused state governors of under-utilising the 13 per cent oil derivation fund.
Uduaghan said that contrary to the claims by the commission’s chairman, Delta was not misusing the derivation fund, as 50 per cent of it had been allocated to DESOPADEC.
He said, ``I was quite happy that you advised the states that funds from the 13 per cent derivation should be used for the benefit of oil producing communities.
``That makes a lot of sense because when you develop the oil producing communities, there is a peaceful environment for the production of more oil.
``For us in Delta, what had been done several years back (by my predecessor) is to enact a law that would ensure that the revenue goes to oil producing communities.
``I started executing that law and there is a commission called DESOPADEC and that commission gets 50 per cent of the derivation fund that comes to the state.
``The commission has its headquarters in Warri, being a major oil producing area.
``Its membership is drawn from the oil producing communities and they identify and execute the projects they want to do.
``As at last month, since I came to the office (2007) we have released up to N149 billion to the commission.’’
The governor said Delta was committed to economic diversification because of the vulnerability of international oil prices and dwindling revenue from taxation due to the new Personal Income Tax Law.
He told the visiting RMAFC officials that the state government was striving hard to rely less on the monthly federation account.
He added that a chunk of revenue accruing to the state from the federation account was being used to develop other potential sources of revenue, including tourism, agriculture and solid minerals.
Earlier, Mbam had commended Uduaghan for accepting to host the zonal advocacy workshop on economic diversification and enhanced revenue generation.
He said the workshop was consistent with the commission’s responsibility to advise the three tiers of government on how to improve their revenue.
``It is the belief of the commission that unless we diversify beyond oil and gas, our vision for 20:2020 would be a mirage,’’ he said.
Mbam advised all states and local governments in the South-South zone to urgently improve their revenue earnings and take ``the monthly allocation from the federation account as a grant for infrastructure development''.