Governors and people of the South-South geopolitical zone have demanded for restructuring in line with the principle of true federalism.
The governors , observed that the country is not at peace with itself and not working as it should, particularly, for the people of the South-South region.
Chairman of the South-South Governors forum and Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa stated this as the position of the zone during the regional stakeholders meeting with presidential delegation led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
“True federalism guided by the principle of derivation, revenue sharing and control of resources by each State of the federation as it was the case in the first republic.”
“We are all aware of the huge endowment of this country. As such, it is imperative to stress that with a little bit of efforts, imagination, hard work, sacrifice and leadership, every state of the Federation as of today, has the ability and capability to contribute to the national purse. This should be encouraged rather than the whole country depending substantially on a region of the country.
“What is worse and even more painful in this ugly situation is the deliberate lack of understanding, empathy and the uncompromising attitudes of some Nigerians, who have refused to understand the challenges of the South-South region of the country especially, the degradation of the environment and our waters. As a result, most of the demands of the region have remained unattended to while the resources of the region have been used continually to develop other parts of the country”.
The governors reiterated the call for the relocation of the headquarters of major oil companies, NNPC subsidiaries from Lagos and Abuja to the South-South region.
Governor Okowa requested for immediate implementation of the consent judgment entered in the Supreme Court Suit No: SC/964/2016 to enable the South-South region get its share of $55billion shortfall of collection on deep offshore and inland basin production sharing contracts.
In addition, they demanded that the two refineries in Port Harcourt and one in Warri that have continued to bleed the country’s resources in the name of turn around maintenance, should be privatised. According to him: “Enough is enough. Let us now privatise them and in doing so however, allow the States and the region among others, considerable equity in the name of fairness and justice”.
Concerned about the rot in the NDDC, the governors observed that one of the major failures of the intervention agency is its refusal to forge and foster synergy, consultation and cooperation with the state governments especially, on project location, development and execution.
“We have resolved and we, as the State governments will no longer allow NDDC to execute any project (s) in any state of the region without it consulting State governments. Frankly, enough is enough and we have a court judgment to back our position.”
The Chief of Staff to the President, Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari, said the stakeholders meeting was at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari, to the presidential delegation comprising of all the Ministers from the region to visit and consult with representatives of the people regarding the recent EndSARS protest.
Gambari, noted that reports indicated that there were instances , where breakdown of law and order was reported across various locations in the South-South states. He lauded the governors of the South-South States for their quick response and actions in addressing the EndSARS crisis. the President acknowledges that the citizens in the region have also been dealing with other concerns that are particular to the region such as the degradation of environment due to decades of mishandling and adherence to environmental standards.
The chief of Staff said he will convey the demands of the region to the President
Present at the meeting were: Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike of Rivers State; Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River; Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akw Ibom; Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State; and Godwin Obaseki of Edo State.
Others are: Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta; Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum; Goddy Jedy Agba ,Minister of State, Power; Festus Keyamo, Minister of State, for Niger Delta; Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammad.
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The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi was however , absent.
Other eminent persons present included: the National Chairman of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, rtd; former President, Nigerian Bar Association, Onueze Okocha (SAN); among others.