Governors and leaders of the South-South geopolitical zone have demanded restructuring of the country in line with the principle of true federalism, saying it will guarantee peace, security and stability in the country.
The South-South leaders decried the present arrangement, where others zones depend on the resources of the Niger Delta. They said such an arrangement could not engender the development.
They observed that Nigeria was not at peace with itself and not working as it should, particularly for the people of the South-South.
The Chairman of the South-South Governors forum and Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, made the positions of the zone known during the regional stakeholders meeting with presidential delegation led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
The media aide to Rivers State Governor, Kelvin Ebiri in a statement on the outcome of the Port Harcourt meeting quoted Okowa as saying that the people of the zone were committed to restructuring of Nigeria in a way that would guarantee true federalism and devolution of powers to the states.
He said states would be able to create and manage their own police and security architecture under a federal structure.
He called for “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.”
According to him, 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.
“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, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and its subsidiaries from Lagos and Abuja to the South-South.
Okowa also requested immediate implementation of the consent judgment entered in the Supreme Court Suit No: SC/964/2016 to enable the South-South region to get its share of $55bn 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 and Warri in order to enhance the economic development of the South-South region.
In addition, they demanded that the two refineries in Port Harcourt and one in Warri that had continued to bleed the country’s resources in the name of turnaround maintenance, should be privatized.
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 Niger Delta Development Commission, the governors 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 stated, “We have resolved and we, as the state governments will no longer allow the 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 Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, said excuse of insecurity by the multinationals for not relocating to the South-South region was not tenable, saying their relocation to the region would help stem restiveness.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege, urged the leaders of the region to avail themselves of the on-going review of the 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly since most of the issues contained in their demands are constitutional matters.
The Director General of Department of State Services, DSS, Yusuf Magaji Bichi, lauded Wike for his stance against the outlawed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra which hijacked the EndSARS protest and killed 10 security operatives in the state, torched stations and court buildings in Oyigbo.
The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, said fake news gave impetus to the nationwide EndSARS that culminated in the death of civilians, police personnel and their assets.
Adamu alleged that intelligence had confirmed that the EndSARS protest was funded from within and outside the country. He further added that one of the primary objective of the protest was to effect a regime change.
Present at the meeting according to Governor Wike’s media aide were: Governor Nyesom 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.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi was, however, absent. ,,