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Derivation and deprivation: Why the North is poor

By on March 18, 2012

Editor’s note: This guest post is written by Ross Alabo-George, Post was earlier published on

ACCORDING to official figures, the leading oil producing state, Rivers, received N1,053 billion between 1999 and 2008 in federal allocations. By contrast the North-eastern states of Yobe and Borno, where the Boko Haram sect was created, received N175bn and N213bn respectively. Broken down on a per capita basis, the contrast is even starker. In 2008 the 18.97m people who lived in the six states in the north-east received on average N1,156 per person.

“By contrast Rivers State was allocated N3,965 per capita, and on average the oil producing South-South region received on average N3,332 per capita. This imbalance is compounded when the cost of an amnesty programme for militants in the delta is included together with an additional 1 per cent for a special development body for the Niger Delta. To boot, the theft of oil by profiteers in the region diverts tens of millions more weekly from federal coffers. – Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.


YES, forget these per capita figures! I agree the North is poor. Yes, I agree the poverty has bred millions of destitutes, who have become instant and easy recruits for Boko Haram. But my question is: Who impoverished the North?

A caveat: I am an unabashed capitalist who believes that every citizen has a right to do good business and make profit. I salute hard work and do not disparage honest efforts. However, uncompassionate capitalism driven by pulleys of aristocracy breeds a brutal class order worthy of condemnation.

In my last article titled – ‘El Rrufai’s amnesia: The day Boko Haram Wore Jeans’, I categorically stated that greed and the senseless chase for power by the Fulani aristocrats and political elite of the North are responsible for the extreme poverty of the North. I still and will always stand by that. My position did not go down well with my targets; they responded vituperatively.

Mallam Sanusi’s statistics was intended to mislead us by ruffling the rudder of our common sense. See, Ekiti state has a 2012 budget 0f N88 billion; Kwara State, N90 billion; Cross River State, N144 billion; Anambra State, N82 billion; Enugu State, N74 billion. Now let’s look at the 2012 budgets recently passed into law by the four major Boko Haram occupied states – Kano State has a budget of N 210 billion; Borno State, 150 billion; Gombe, N94 billion; Yobe State, 80 billion.

A simple comparative analysis shows that Ekiti State has about the same revenue as Yobe and Gombe, but only 17 students passed WAEC and NECO in Gombe state last year, while Ekiti is known for its high literacy level. Gombe State has a bigger budget that Enugu and Anambra, why has MASSOB not  bombed anyone.

Borno State has a budget twice that of Enugu State but the poverty and unemployment level in Borno State is more than thrice that of Enugu State. Borno has a bigger budget than a Niger Delta state – Cross River. While the leaders of Cross River over the last decade have transformed it into the nation’s leading tourist destination; those of Borno have transformed it into a Somalia.

Kano State gets the highest statutory allocation from the Federal Government, because on paper Kano is the most populated state in Nigeria, yet Kano has about 1.6 million destitute Almajiris. Kano has a budget almost thrice the budget of Enugu, twice the budget of Kwara, Anambra and Ekiti, but how come almost 90 per cent of students in Kano fail WAEC? How come the poverty level in Kano is higher than all these states put together? Why is the North so poor? From the figures above I have shown that Southern states with lesser budgets have shown better development performance than most North Eastern states with bigger statutory allocation and budgets.

Now, I need to tackle the sensitive question of revenue allocation that has infuriated the Mallam Lamido Sanusi and Mallam Elrufai and their likes. Niger Delta states get higher revenue allocation because they contribute virtually all the eggs in the national crate. That is expected. Albeit the 13 per cent remains grossly inadequate, the CBN Governor has suggested that his Boko boys are resisting the disparity.

I want to posit that the North-East through their aristocrats and ex-military rulers (except Gen. Mohammed Buhari) rake in more oil money (from the Niger Delta) individually than any Niger Delta state, and collectively more than twice the entire Niger Delta put together. In this disquisition, I have attempted to show that 80 per cent of crude oil and gas produced by indigenous companies is controlled by the North-East. It is an area they have well conquered through Generals IBB, Abacha and Abdulsalami. However, the loots never get back home.

Uneven nature of the distribution

In this first part I will attempt to describe the very uneven nature of the distribution of the nation’s wealth among the Northern aristocratic families and their military generals who for decades looted Nigeria. They did so blatantly, and while Nigeria was weeping about oil windfall loot and others, Nigerians would wail if they know how much of the nation’s resources these folks allocated to themselves and their business fronts before they stepped aside.

Let us therefore begin: To the state of origin of Boko Haram: Borno State. Enter Cavendish Petroleum, the operators of OML 110 – with good yielding OBE field. This oil block was awarded to Alhaji Mai Deribe – the Borno patriarch, who even in death will remain the richest man dead or alive in the history of Borno State – by General Sani Abacha on July 8, 1996. OML 110 has a proven oil reserve in excess of 500 million barrels (more than the entire 300million barrels reserve of Sudan). As yet with the capacity to produce about 120,000 barrels of crude oil daily from its OBE 4 and OBE 5 wells. At optimal production levels, Cavendish nets circa N4billion monthly in crude oil sales (using current oil price of $100pb). Cavendish Petroleum’s N4bn monthly net dwarfs the monthly statutory allocation of Borno which is about N3bn and its internally generated revenue staggers around N1billion.

His mansion in Maiduguri has become a tourist attraction. A simple Google search will throw up different perspectives of Mai Deribe’s palatial home.

Enter Oriental Energy Resources Limited, a company owned by Alhaji Mohammed Indimi, a Fulani and close friend of General Ibrahim Babangida. Also worthy of note is that General IBB’s first son is married to Alhaji Mohammed Indimi’s daughter – Yakolo Indimi-Babangida, who also serves as a director in the company. Alhaji Indimi hails from Borno State.

Good yielding offshore oil blocs

Oriental Energy Resources Limited runs three oil blocks: OML 115, the Okwok field and the Ebok field. OML 115 and Okwo are OML PSC, while Ebok is an OML JV. All of them good yielding offshore oil blocks. OML 115 on its own is 228 sqKm. On OML115 Oriental Energy Resources Limited has 60 per cent while Equity Energy Resources AS. On Okwok, Addax has 40 per cent and on the Ebok field, Oriental Energy Resources shares with none: its 100 per cent. AMNI produces twice as much as Cavendish Petroleum.

I will then shift to the centre of the aristocratic hegemony in the North East – Kano. Here. Enter the Fulani Prince Nasiru Ado Bayero, Mallam (Prince) Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s cousin. He is a key shareholder and director in Seplat/Platform petroleum operators of the Asuokpu/Umutu Marginal Field with a capacity of 300,000 barrels monthly and A 30mmfcsd gas plant capable of feeding 100MT of LPG. The Ado Bayeros, Yar’Aduas and Atiku Abubakar are Nigerian directors of Intels. It is a private port that has grounded three Federal ports in the South. Intels is discussed later.

Enter South Atlantic Petroleum Limited (SAPETRO). South Atlantic Petroleum (SAPETRO) is a Nigerian Oil Exploration and Production Company that was created in 1995 by General T. Y. Danjuma. General Sani Abacha awarded the Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 246 to SAPETRO in February 1998.

The block covers a total area of 2,590km2 (1,000 sq. miles). SAPETRO partnered with Total Upstream Nigeria Ltd (TUPNI) and Brasoil Oil Services Company Nigeria Ltd (Petrobras) to start prospecting on OPL246. Akpo, a condensate field was discovered in April 2000 with the drilling of the first exploration well (Akpo 1) on the block. Other discoveries made on OPL 246 include the Egina Main, Egina South, Preowei and Kuro (Kuro was suspended as a dry gas/minor oil discovery).

Barrels of condensate

In June 2006, General TY Danjuma divested part of its contractor rights and obligations to China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) for $1 billion (N160bn). Akpo exports about 230,000 barrels of condensate daily. Condensate export is not regulated by OPEC, so SAPETRO/TOTAL exports as much as possible each day. Egina exports about 75,000 barrels of oil daily.

Therefore, Akpo and Egina fields export just over 300,000 barrels of oil/condensate daily (three times what the country Ghana exports). SAPETRO (TY Danjuma) get 25 per cent of this. Now, note I have not talked about the gas component – it’s about 2.5 trillion cubic feet. The money SAPETRO nets each month is more than the monthly statutory allocation of all the Niger delta states combined and also more than the oil revenue of Ghana. Do your maths.

Enter AMNI (or is it AMIN?) International Petroleum Development Company. AMNI owns two oil blocks – OML 112 and OML 117. In the production sharing contract, AMNI gets 60 per cent for owning the oil block and Total gets 40 per cent for providing technical advice. OML 112 was awarded on the 12/02/1998 while OML 117 was awarded 06/08/1999 all by Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar. Operations started on both blocks 0n 26/02/2006. The licenses are due to expire 11/02/2018 and 05/08/2019 respectively. (Now you see why the next election is important?)

The Okoro and Setu fields in OML 112 are operated by Afren Energy, a company substantially controlled by Rilwanu Lukman. The Okoro and Setu oil fields have about 50 million barrels in reserve and currently produce/exports just a little below 20,000 barrels per day. The chairman of AMNI International Petroleum and Development Company is Alhaji (Colonel) Sani Bello a Fulani from Kontagora, Niger State. Lest I forget, Alhaji Bello’s son – Abu, is married to General Abdusalami Abubakar’s eldest daughter.

Enter Express Petroleum and Gas Limited floated by Alhaji Aminu Dantata. General Abacha awarded him OML 108 on the 1st of November, 1995. CAMAC Houston, a company owned by Kase Lawal bought 2.5 per cent of Express Petroleum’s 60 per cent holdings. The other 40 per cent on OML 108 is owned Sheba E&P Limitedi.  SEPCOL operates the Ukpokiti offshore field in Shallow water Nigeria, which was acquired from ConocoPhillips in May 2004.

Enter Shebah Exploration And Production Limited (SEPCOL) . It is the operator of the Oil Mining License 108 offshore Nigeria. Head office is in Lagos, but ‘head quartered’ in Minna.

Enter Consolidated Oil. Conoil Producing Limited is an integrated upstream oil and gas company. They are the operator of six blocks in the Niger Delta as well as 25 per cent Equity holder in the Joint Development Zone (JDZ) Block 4. Corporate Head office is in Lagos, but its ‘Headquarters’ is in Minna, Niger State.

Conoil signed a technical operator agreement with Continental Oil and Gas Limited (CONOG) to provide 100% funding and technical service agreement to operate blocks OML 59 on a 40 per cent (Conoil) / 60 per cent (CONOG) basis. Conoil entered into a Production Sharing Contract with the NNPC by virtue of an agreement executed on October 17, 2008.

Conoil’s has overall potential hydrocarbon resources of over 1.0 billion barrels of oil and 7.0 trillion cubic feet of gas. General Ibrahim Babangida awarded the first oil bloc to Conoil in 1991. The company produces about 100,000 barrels per day.

Enter Rilwanu Lukman, another Fulani multimillionaire with controlling holdings in Afren, the operators of AMNI oil blocks and also with very key interest in the NNPC/Vitol trading deal, Vitol is a London based oil trading company. Vitol lifts 350,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Nigeria.

Enter Intels and the Yar’Adua, Ado Bayero family and Alhaji Abubakar Atiku. The Oil and Gas Free Zone and Oil Services Centres, as well as support bases, are operated from government-owned facilities, leased to Intels under long-term agreements. Intels runs a ‘private port’, a venture that has systematically killed the Calabar, Warri and Port Harcourt ports.

More money in profit

There are over one hundred major companies operating at the Intel facility in Port Harcourt. The company makes more money in profit than the government of Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta states put together. I shall give details and figures in part two of this disquisition.

Finally, let me introduce you to NorthEast Petroleum. The name is as clear as the message it sends. I do not need to write so much about NorthEast Petroleum registered as NorEast. NorthEast Petroleum Nigeria Limited is the holder of OPL215 license, covering an area of 2,564 square kilometres in water depths between 200 to 1600 metres. NorEast is the parent company of Rayflosh Petroleum Nigeria which got the 2005 bidding round and was awarded the blocks OPLs 276 and 283 closing thereupon a Joint Venture Agreement with Centrica Resources Nigeria Limited and CCC Oil and Gas.

Not surprising, NorthEast Petroleum is owned by another Fulani businessman from the North East, Alhaji Saleh Mohammed Jambo. The license was awarded to him by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida in 1991 and then renewed in 2004. So far $50million has been spent on the very promising Okpoi-1 and Egere -1 exploratory well.

In the Part II, we shall finish the discussion. We will table other North Eastern billionaires who make more money than their states of origin from Niger Delta oil blocks.

With all these oil blocs owned by ‘North- Easterners’ in the Niger Delta, it should be clear to El-Rufai and Sanusi who really benefits from the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme.

Sadly, the National Bureau of Statistics Poverty Profile Report just released shows the North East as the poorest region in the nation with 69.1 and 76.3 as absolute and relative poverty levels respectively, while the South-West had the lowest poverty profile with 49.8 as absolute poverty level and 59.1 relative poverty level. With these figures from the National Bureau of Statistics, I rest my case. The rich man’s wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty. Let us reason together.


  1. Bellom27

    March 18, 2012 at 11:48 am

    The fact that you are confusing north east, north west and north central makes me question how accurate this information is. I do agree with the part where many northerners own oil fields, but most of them are neither fulanis nor are they from the north east. What you have left out though is mentioning the name of southerners with oil fields, you also forgot to point out how corrupt some of these southerners are as well. Let’s leave corrupt people and aristocrats who by the way are found in all parts of the country aside, let’s focus on the common man. The fact that you keep on insisting on the budget and not on how much this states earn shows that you are hiding something. Budget is just a plan, it can either be implemented or not, what’s important is how much these states get. Because you make a plan to buy a billion naira house doesn’t automatically make you rich, but if you get billions without spending them, you are still regarded as rich….and that’s what we are saying

  2. Smshuwa

    March 18, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    I must give you credit for exposing our self imposed present and past leaders. But I have these quetions for you:
    1. do you realy understand the term fulani?
    2. Can you give us the statistic of people from southern nigeria that  own oil wells for easy comparison.
    3.The statutory responsibilities to provide social amenities, basic infracturatur is bestowed on govt or individuals?
    4. Do you know the meaning of a geopolitical zone in nig context?
    5.are you referring  north-east to mean the entire north
    6.was abdulsalam leading nig on 11-02-1998 and 05-08-1999.
    POC. IBB, abdulsalam,indimi,lukman, sani bello, mai deribe, atiku were not fulanis. Answer above qsts and effect the corrections b4 the part 2.  

  3. Loddo06

    March 18, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    How about ur people that are in north.what are the still doing wen north is poor.the have 2 be in thre South-South state. Shuwa ask him and mine u never think FULANI’s are poor

  4. realest1s

    March 19, 2012 at 12:48 am

    If they say poverty is the cause of terrorism in the north, what about Islamic countries  such as Gambia and Senegal ? Why dont they throw bombs ? Most of these arab countries are not poor, yet… 
    Indeed, was Abdulmutallab poor ?