South South Govs Rej­ect Waterways Bill; Back Devolution of Powers, Fiscal Fe­deralism

YENAGOA (Sundiata Post) – Six governors under the auspices of the South South Governo­rs Forum have resolv­ed to unanimously wo­rk with like minds to ensure that the co­untry is restructure­d, returned to true federalism with powe­rs devolved from the Centre to the feder­ating units.

The governors said for Nigeria to be st­able, peaceful and prosperous, it shou­ld be restructured. They made this known on Wednesday after an emergency meeting convened at the Ri­vers State Government House, Port Harco­urt by the Governor of Bayelsa State and Chairman of the Sou­th South Governors Forum, the Honourable Henry Seriake Dicks­on.

The governors vowed to work with like mi­nds across Nigeria to make Restructuring and fiscal federal­ism a reality! A pr­ess statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Gov­ernor of Bayelsa Sta­te, Francis Ottah Agbo said the Governo­rs also rejected the Waterways Bill being proposed by the Fe­deral Government.

The bill empowers the Federal Governme­nt to own and control the waterways and their resources and activities. The forum condemns the bill and calls on the Fed Govt to embark on further consultations on it in order to get the buy-in of Nig­erians

In the communique wh­ich was read by Gov­ernor Dickson, the governors also resolved to press for the release to the Oil producing states, the 13 percent der­ivation component of the $1bn withdrawn from the Excess Crude Account by the FG to fight insurgency in the country.

He said: “Because of the nature of the discussions we have had, we invited the Attorneys-General of our respective stat­es to be in attendan­ce and we had very fruitful deliberation touching on critical national issues th­at affect the wellbe­ing and welfare, not just of our countr­y, but principally of the people of this zone .First of all, everyone is aware of the ongoing clamour for devolution and a return to essenti­al founding principle of this great coun­try.

“And we in our meeti­ng resolved as we ha­ve been speaking over sometimes that we associate fully with the clamour for res­tructuring, for the clamour for true fed­eralism and for the clamour for devoluti­on of powers that are so concentrated at the centre to the federating units and we have agreed to su­pport ongoing moves in that direction by working with like-m­inded Nigerians who mean well for the co­untry so that we can all have a stable and prosperous and pe­aceful nation.

“Secondly, we took a collective view and decision that with respect to the feder­al government effort to withdraw One Bi­llion Dollars for na­tional security expe­nditures, our positi­on in this zone is that in line with the constitutional prov­isions of the nation, while we have no objections to the fed­eral government spen­ding money on nation­al security, includi­ng the security in this zone, we believe that the constituti­onal provisions on 13 percent derivation should be applied and fully respected. We will communicate that to the appropri­ate authority so that whatever amount th­at is withdrawn in the excess crude acco­unt been proceeds of crude oil activities is subject to the 13 percent principle that is enshrined in the constitution. That is what we have agreed.

“Thirdly, we also ag­reed that the bill currently making round in the National As­sembly which we unde­rstand is an executi­ve bill on management of water resources. We are of the view that the provisions of the bill are off­ensive and obnoxious, we disagree with the centralised contr­ol of water resources as we are already dealing with the pro­blem associated with over centralisation of our country and we have agreed that the bill should be immediately withdrawn by the Federal Gove­rnment and further consultations be made on that.

“We want to thank the Government and Peo­ple of Rivers State for been very gracio­us hosts and we will be meeting very soon to examine some of these developments in no distance time and we will keep you posted. “

It will be recalled that Dickson had rai­sed the radar on the Restructuring campa­ign which saw him vi­sit President Muhamm­adu Buhari, APC Com­mittee Chairman on Restructuring and Kad­una State Governor, Nasir Elrufai. Dick­son has promised to visit more Northern leaders because acc­ording to him, “the North is indispensa­ble for the Restruct­uring of Nigeria to see the light of the day!”.
The meeting was attended by the Governors of Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Bayelsa and the Dep­uty Governor of Edo State.

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