Niger Delta Governors: Where Is Our Money?

by Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

The Niger Delta accounts for two-thirds of the entire coast line of Nigeria. It extends from Apoi to Bakassi and from Mashin creek to the Bight of Benin. The Delta is home to some forty different ethnic groups dispersed in 3000 or so communities, with a total population variously estimated at 20-40 million people and housed in nine federating states: Rivers State, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Ondo, Cross River, Delta, Edo, and Imo. These are the nation’s cash-cow, the money-house. In recent years the region has gained regional and international prominence because of persistent political impasse between the oil producing communities, the oil companies and the federal government.

Commentaries, activism, political outbursts and condemnations have generally been directed at the indifference, half-heartedness and the injurious activities of the hegemons towards the region. Rarely have commentators and political referees examined the blame-worthy role of elites and state governments in the region. It is true that the country as a whole is in a state of rot and underdevelopment; but the Niger Delta is in a rut and rot and is immensely underdeveloped compared to other parts of the country. And while it is true that some of the problems ailing Nigeria have their roots in the country’s colonial heritage, the international political economy, and other hindrances — i.e. ethnic politics and weak institutions — Nigeria has had time to correct almost all the institutional and structural imbalances that afflicts her.

Human and infrastructural development must be driven internally for it to succeed and become culturized. For all the blames at the door step of the oil companies and the federal government, there are evidence indicating that the elite and the ruling class in the Niger Delta has also been careless and indifferent to the suffering of their own people. There is ample evidence to show that those in the upper echelon of the political and economic ladder have, for the most part, engaged in predatory practices — practice that have for so long been inimical to the progress and wellbeing of the common man. Although the aforesaid is not unique to the region; but if the elites and the ruling class in the Delta were humane and sensible, they would have approached the congealing problems in a more honest and concerted fashion.

And if the people of the region were politically conscious, they would have demanded accountability and transparency. They would have elected honest leaders. Record shows that (1) dozens of Cabinet Ministers and dozens of federal legislators are from the Delta; (2) at least since 1999 the states have been governed by governors, commissioners and state legislators indigenous to the region; (3) although the current revenue allocation is not proportionate to the contribution of the region to the national purse — the region continues to receive hefty amount of monthly allocations; and (4) in spite of the grievances of the local communities, their local leaders have not judiciously spent the amount given them by the federal government. More that 50% of these allocations have either gone into the pockets of the ruling class and their cronies, or have been misappropriated.

The aforementioned being the case, the time has come when activists, militant groups, and impartial commentators within the communities must turn some of their attention and energy to the culpable activities of their local government chairmen, state and federal legislators and elites who parade themselves as champion of the people. But most of all, it is time Niger Deltans critically examine the activities of their state governments. At the top of the pyramid of those to be held liable are state governors and their deputies.

Why in spite of the billions of dollars that have been allocated and collected by various state governors and their governments is there very little or no measurable progress commensurate to the total amount they have received since the summer of 1999? Why in spite of all the money allocated and taxes collected is there no improvement in the lives of the people? It is not too late to bring the following men to justice (Court of Law) for their role in the bastardization of the Niger Delta: James Ibori (Delta State); Peter Otunuya Odili (Rivers State); Jonathan Goodluck (Bayelsa State); Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia State); Victor Bassey Attah (Akwa Ibom State); Donald Duke (Cross River State); Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion (Edo State); Olusegun Agagu (Ondo State); and Achike Udenwa (Imo state).










Cross Rivers

3 billion

12 ”

13 ”

15 ”

20 ”

28 ”


127 ”

Edo State

3 ”

12 ”

14 ”

15 ”

20 ”

30 ”

37 ”


Bayelsa State

3 ”

19 ”

25 ”

22 ”

37 ”

68 ”

112 ”

286 ”

Rivers State

4 ”

23 ”

28 ”

40 ”

54 ”


134 ”


Delta State

4 ”

32 ”

46 ”

53 ”

64 ”

85 ”

103 ”


This is a sample allocation (1999-2005) for five of the states in the region. Pro

fessor Mobolaji Aluko generously made available his complete data set. I however took the liberty to “round up” the numbers for the sake of brevity. All amounts are in billions of naira. For the complete 1999-2007 data set see:

The nine federating states of the Niger Delta have received more money than the next fifteen states combined. What have the governments in the Niger Delta done with their robust allocations? Where has our money — billions and billions and billions of dollars — gone? What happened to the people’s money? Where is progress in terms of quality and meaningful education; jobs with decent wages; abundant food that meets basic dietary standards; afford health care; environmental and personal security; and good governance. Whatever happened to all the billions and billions of dollars that have been collected by these governors the past 6-8?

Taken as a whole, Ijaw land is the most underdeveloped within the Niger Delta. It has the highest concentration of leaders who do not “give a damn” about the lot of their own people. It has more political parasites and political leeches. Treachery, indifference and exploitation of the weak and the poor is the hallmark of some of these leaders. And lately, they have begun to use religion and the fear of the unknown as a tool to subjugate their own people.

They know, or should have known the value of education. They know or should have known that the benefit of education accrue to both the individual and to the lager society; they know that the world opens up for an educated soul, they know that education frees the mind and allows one to set sail into a world of possibilities. Yet, they have purposely kept quality education out of the reach of the people; perhaps for fear that the fisherman will one day rise to demand his or her rights.

The ongoing struggle must not end with the federal government and the oil companies. Activists, police and law enforcement agencies, commentators, and freedom fighters in the Niger Delta must also investigate the activities of the so-called elites and oligarchy within the region. We must not allow them to shift all the blames to “outsiders.” Most of our leaders have and continues to be part of the problem. We have enemies within our communities. It is time to call them to order. When next you see James Ibori, Olusegun Agagu, Peter Odili, Jonathan Goodluck and Orji Kalu ask “where is our money…what did you do with our money?” When next you see or talk to Victor Attah, Donald Duke, Lucky Igbinedion and Achike Udenwa ask them “Where has our money gone…what did you do with billions and billions of our children’s money?”

Ten years from now all the aforementioned governors will still have a life of opulence and privilege. So will their children and grandchildren. Nothing would have changed. A sweet life they all would have. But not so for the poor and the commoners in the Niger Delta: their lives would continue to be typified by squalor and poverty. Nothing would have changed, except change for the worst. A bitter life most would have.

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Asuquo K. Ema March 20, 2007 - 6:47 pm


Wonderful article!!!!!

This is very informative to the average Nigeria who resides abroad and wants to know what's happening in the country.

Yes, these state governors, legislators and local goverment chairmen are all responsible for the looting of the funds that have been allocated to their regions.

I also strongly agree with you that they are now using religion to subjugate the people because they are well aware that education is the key to ending poverty and ignorance. They know that most people are gullible when it comes to religion in Nigeria and that is why the only thing that is progressing in that country is religion. Talk to the average person about what is going on in the country and the typical response you get back is "God will provide"

Economic development has been stagnant in our country for a very long time. People should realize that "Knowledge" is power. When one has acquired "Knowledge" nobody can take it away from you. It's a tool that enables you fight off ignorance.

Your article is so good that I have decided to print it out and use it as a guide for future reference.

Please be careful while you are in Nigeria because remember that we don't have freedom of speech and expression down there. That's African democracy for you.

Good Job and please stay safe!!!!

Reply March 18, 2007 - 9:47 am

It is always a sad,very sad joke.Don't you think something is wrong with us,the blackman?Are our political rulers sane?The man who was caught with a million pounds in Britain is in an airconditioned room some where in Lagos?


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