Reclaiming Nigeria's Natural Resource Frontiers after AG Federation v AG Abia & 35 Ors

Author:Peter C Obutte and Lilian Idiaghe
ReclaimingNigeria’sNaturalResource
FrontiersafterAGFederationvs.AGAbia&
35Ors
PeterCObutte*&LilianIdiaghe**
Naturalresourceendowmentisnotamatterofchoice
foranycountry,thoughresourcerichStateshavea
choiceonhowtheyappropriateandmanagetheir
resourcewealth.Naturalresourcerevenuesarefinite
innatureandassuchtheyrequiresustainable
managementanduse.Whileitisnecessaryforthe
purposeoffiscalequitiese.g.,cohesionandpromotion
ofharmonyinsharingpetroleumrevenuesbetween
theFederalGovernmentandtheoilproducingareas,
lackofconsensualfiscalmodelpresentsachallengein
amultilevelgovernanceofafederalsystemsuchas
Nigeria.Differentsharingformulashavebeen
employedovertheyearswithsameoccasioning
differentreactionsfromthefederatingunits.
ResourcecontrolandallocationinNigeriahasbeen
madeparticularlyfamousbythedecisionofthe
SupremeCourtinAttorneyGeneraloftheFederation
v.AttorneyGeneralofAbiaStateand35othersand
theAllocationofRevenue(AbolitionofDichotomyin
theApplicationofthePrincipleofDerivation)Act
2004respectively.Thefarreachingimplicationsof
thatdecisionandtheActincludeagravedelimitation
ofNigeria’sterritorialandnaturalresourcefrontiers
asguaranteedundernationalandinternationallaw.
Thepaperestablishesthatthesefrontiershavebeen
158SLJ5(1)
rolledbackwardsintheattempttoconferontheoil
producingstates,lessthanwhattheConstitution
guaranteesthem.Thepaperfurtherarguesthatthe
provisotoSection162(2)onexploitationofNigeria’s
createsanimpetusforthedevelopmentofthenation’s
otherviablemineralresourcesapartfromoilandgas
ontheonehand;andtheneedfortheSupremeCourt
torevisitthedecisioninthebestinterestofthe
country.
Introduction
Theoptimumutilisationofnaturalresourcesrequires
crediblemanagementandadministrativeeffectiveness.Ithas
beennotedthatthefirstchallengefacinganyresourcerich
countryisensuringthepublicisabletoextractasmuchof
thevalueofresourcesthatliebeneathitslandaspossible.
Evenincountrieswithstableandmaturedemocracies,there
isanongoingstrugglebyoilandgasandminingcompanies
toseizeasmuchofthewealthforthemselvesastheypossibly
can.1ThesituationisnodifferentinNigeria,whereinthe
*PeterCObutteholdsadoctoratedegreeinLawofthe
UniversityofOslo,NorwayandisaSeniorLecturerinthe
DepartmentofJurisprudenceandInternationalLaw,Facultyof
Law,UniversityofIbadan,Nigeria.HeisalsoCo‐Investigator
andDeputyDirectoroftheCenterforPetroleum,Energy
EconomicsandLaw(CPEEL),UniversityofIbadan.
**LilianIdigheholdsadoctoratedegreeinEnergyLawofthe
UniversityofIbadanandisaResearchFellowattheCenterfor
Petroleum,EnergyEconomicsandLaw(CPEEL),Universityof
Ibadan,Nigeria.
1JosephStiglitz,MakingGlobalizationWork(Penguin2007)138.

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