The Principle of Derivation and the Search for Distributive Justice in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria: The Journey So Far



The Niger Delta has since the 1960’s, been associated with restiveness and agitations. The agitations in the region assumed violent dimensions from the 1990’s when different militant groups in the region launched sustained attacks on oil and gas installations and facilities within the region thereby crippling the Nigerian economy which is woven round oil and gas. At the centre of the agitations is the clamour for justice by the oppressed and marginalized ethnic minorities of the Niger Delta who argue that although the Nigerian State is sustained by the revenue derived from oil and gas exploited in the region, they remain amongst the rank of the poorest ethnic groups in the federation of Nigeria. The Niger Delta has not benefitted from the stupendous oil wealth generated from the region. The principle of derivation has evolved as part of the efforts by the federal government of Nigeria to address the inequities and injustice inherent in the revenue allocation system whereby oil revenue collected by the federal government is re-distributed to the constituent units. Although the derivation principle was not designed originally for the Niger Delta, its association with the region derives from the total dependence of the Nigerian economy on oil and gas since the 1970’s. It is argued that the domination of the Nigerian federation by the three majority ethnic groups of Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo respectively and the superior-subordinate relationship between the majority and minority ethnic groups in Nigeria have  resulted in the complete distortion of the derivation principle to the detriment of the oil-producing ethnic minorities of the Niger delta. The conspiracy amongst the three majority ethnic groups has ensured that the derivation payable to the oil-producing states of the Niger Delta region does not exceed thirteen percent (13%) in spite of the fact that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) permits an upward review of the 13% payable.  When the current rate of 13% is compared with the 100% and much later 50% paid to solid mineral-producing regions of the federation before the commercial discovery of oil in the Niger delta, the injustice being inflicted on the Niger Delta ethnic minorities becomes very apparent. This paper, therefore, argues that the derivation principle as currently practised has failed to serve as a tool of distributive justice. Thus, the paper proposes an upward review of the derivative principle from 13% to 30% with a further progression to 50% by 2020.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3240 ISSN (Online)2224-3259

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