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Presidential Hopeful Says Niger Delta Could Keep ‘All Oil Revenues’

A presidential candidate from the People’s Democratic Party has said the Niger Delta communities could keep all of the revenues the oil-rich province produces. In an interview with the Africa Report, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar suggested a sharing scheme might still be better for everyone.

“States can get more because in the First Republic, the regions had 50/50,” he said, “I don’t mind giving even 100% […], but I would tax those states to maintain the federal government.”

In response to a question whether he was willing to give the oil-producing states total control over their resources, Abubakar tapped into his freedom-giving enthusiasm to explain that complete control over oil revenues by provinces was not advisable at the moment.

“Even during the First Republic there was this derivation sharing between revenues and resour­ces, or between the regions and the federal government. So I think we could have a middle course,” Abubakar said.

Nigerians are voting for a new government in February 2019. The incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari, will be seeking re-election and Atiku Abubakar is the candidate of the biggest opposition party. Naturally, the oil card will be a popular one as the Niger Delta remains one of the poorest regions in the West African country.

The Buhari government has been quite active in the last couple of years in trying to reconcile with the local communities, if only for perfectly pragmatic reasons: pipeline vandalism and bombings were rife in the region. Now things have calmed down: there haven’t been bombings for months.

Yet whatever terms the Buhari negotiated with militant groups and community leaders in the Delta will likely have to be renegotiated if another party wins in February. According to some observers, Abubakar would be the biggest threat for Buhari’s second term. Abubakar’s playing the oil card with 100 percent control for Delta communities is hardly surprising but as so often happens with populist promises, they tend to turn against those who make them. In Nigeria’s case, this could lead to violence in the Delta again.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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