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13% Oil Derivation Funds should be paid directly to the people

The Oil and Solid Minerals Producing Areas Landlords Association of Nigeria, OMPLALAN, has accused the Niger Delta governors of embezzling N1 trillion meant for the development of the region annually.

Observers wonder if it’s not better to pay Niger Deltans an annual universal income, rather than use the derivation fund to fund their governors profligacy

 In the United States, all state residents of Alaska receive yearly cash dividends of $2,072 from state oil revenues.

A pan-Niger-Delta group, the Reformed Egbesu Assembly, has in fact demanded that President Muhammadu Buhari stop the payment of 13 per cent Oil Derivation Funds to the governors of oil and gas producing states of the Niger Delta with effect from January 1, 2017, alleging that the governors had squandered over N17 trillion since the disbursement commenced.

 

The idea of paying a universal stipend is taking route in the United States of America

Facebook Co-Founder Chris Hughes, Harvard Law School and Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society Professor Yochai Benkler, Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza and Alaska State Senator Bill Wielechowski may not agree on everything, but they agree on this: Cash handouts have the potential to help Americans and the American economy.

Given the challenges posed by automation and globalization, which are replacing workers and leading to stagnating wages, direct payments to workers may, in fact, be the only solution.

More than 100 organizers, activists, researchers and technologists, including Y Combinator President Sam Altman and former President of the Sierra Club Adam Werbach, have come together to support research being done by a new group into the viability of universal basic income in the U.S.

The group, announced this week and called The Economic Security Project, has raised $10 million to fund two years of exploration and experimentation of the idea of a universal basic income, which is a cash payment made to individuals by the government. With universal basic income , residents get regular, reliable payments regardless of whether they have a job.

“Our faith in the good nature of our fellow citizens has never felt more brittle, and many people on the left and the right are thinking about how to create a more inclusive, empathetic America.

“This collective anxiety has many sources, but one of the most important is a diminishing faith in the American ideal of equal opportunity for all,” writes Hughes, one of three co-chairs of the group, in a post for Medium.

The group posits that universal basic income payments are a solution to the dire, and growing, problem of inequality. “We know from research in the US and internationally that recurring, unconditional cash stipends are a shockingly effective way to encourage work, improve health and education outcomes, and create a ladder of economic opportunity,” says Hughes.

In Nigeria, nothing to show for colossal derivation allocation but, the Reformed Egbesu Assembly  in a communiqué issued by Tamanuko Owei, after a meeting of its consultative assembly, said if the remittance of the funds to the governors was not stopped, the much sought tranquility could elude the region.

It said: “The continuous allocation of the 13 per cent derivation fund to the state governors despite protests and agitations of several groups and organizations, host communities of oil and gas, suggests that peace is not yet in sight in Niger Delta.

Consequently, we demand that effective January 1, 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari should, as a matter of urgency, peace and security of the Niger Delta, direct the stoppage of all 13 per cent derivation proceeds to the governors.

He should set up 13 per cent Derivation Funds Management Committees or Derivation Funds Agency at federal and in all states producing oil and gas.

“That effective January 2017, all proceeds of 13 per cent derivation funds be withheld in an escrow account in the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, pending the establishment of the appropriate structures with community nominees to manage the funds.

Since the commencement of the payment of the funds to the present day, over N17 trillion has been mismanaged and misappropriated by the state governors, but one gets to the creeks and the oil and gas producing communities, there is virtually nothing to justify the huge allocation.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. is not alone in considering a universal basic income. Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Canada and Holland are all in some stage of discussions, according to The Economic Security Project.

Already, Alaska has a version of a universal basic income. All state residents receive yearly cash dividends of $2,072 from state oil revenues, the group says.

“It’s time for a game-changing solution to address the economic anxiety and concerns faced by too many Americans,” says Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren, one of the co-chairs of the group, in a written statement announcing the launch of the group. “We believe we can end the downward spiral for working families in America by providing a guaranteed basic income for every man, woman, and child – but the precise approach for implementing a cash benefit system needs additional research.”

Some of the biggest names in tech have also been promoting the idea of a universal basic income. In response to Amazon’s announcement of a grocery store with no check-out registers, reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian tweeted out, “We needed to start talking about Universal Basic Income a few years ago…”

Elon Musk, the legendary futurist and founder of SpaceX and Tesla, said recently that he considers universal basic income a nearly foregone conclusion. “There is a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation,” Musk told CNBC . “Yeah, I am not sure what else one would do. I think that is what would happen.”

“America ought to be a place where if you work hard, you can get ahead – that’s the promise of the American Dream and the lesson we’ve been taught for generations. But far too many Americans are struggling to survive, instead of thriving and pursuing passions that could create a better world for all of us,” says Natalie Foster, future of work expert and the third co-chair of the new group.

“Basic income could be the bold solution we need to remake the economy so it works again, for all of us.”

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