By Davies Iheamnachor
Governors and people of the South-South Geopolitical zone have demanded restructuring in line with the principle of true federalism, to guarantee peace, security, and stability of the nation.
The leaders and governors of the region during a meeting with FG in Port Harcourt Tuesday noted that the country is not at peace with itself and not working as it should, stating that the people of South-South region are not attended to.
Speaking, Chairman of the South-South Governors Forum and Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa while disclosing the position of the zone during the regional stakeholders meeting with a presidential delegation led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari, at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Tuesday, called for the restructuring of the nation and true federalism.
Okowa said: “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.”
He said the kind of federation the South-South geopolitical desires, is one where federating units are constitutionally empowered to create their own structures like Local Government Areas, manage their elections, and control their judiciary.
He said: “We are all aware of the huge endowment of this country. As such, it is imperative to stress that with a few 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, requesting 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.
The governors further called for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the region’s major seaports in Port Harcourt, Calabar, Warri in order to enhance the economic development of the South-South region, regretting that they demanded that the two refineries in Port Harcourt and one in Warri which have continued to bleed the country’s resources in the name of turn around maintenance, should be privatised.
On the issues of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Okowa observed that one of the major failures of the intervention agency was its refusal to forge and foster synergy, consultation and cooperation with the state governments especially, on project location, development and execution.
He said: “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.”
However, 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, commending, the governors of the South-South States for their quick response and actions in addressing the EndSARS crisis.
Gambari said the President acknowledged that citizens 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, promising to convey the demands of the region to the President
Meanwhile, the Deputy President of the Senate, Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege, urged the leaders of the region to avail themselves of the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly since most of the issues contained in their demands are constitutional matters.