Governors and people of the South-South geopolitical zone have demanded for restructuring in line with the principle of true federalism, to guarantee peace, security and stability of Nigeria.
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.
Special Assistant (Media) to the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Kelvin Ebiri, disclosed in a report after the meeting, that 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, 24th November, 2020.
Governor Okowa, explained the people of the South-South are committed to restructuring of Nigeria in a way that guarantees true federalism and devolution of powers to the states to create and manage their own police and security architecture under a federal structure.
“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.
“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.
The governors further called for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the region’s major seaports in Port Harcourt, Calabar, Warri region’s major seaports in Port Harcourt, Calabar, 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 have continued to bleed 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.”
In his remark, the Chief of Staff to the President, Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari, apologised for the failure of the meeting to hold on Nov. 17 earlier slated, and said the stakeholders meeting was at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari and the presidential delegation comprising all the Ministers from the region were mandated to visit and consult with representatives of the people regarding the recent EndSARS protest.
“We are here on behalf of the President as part of the ongoing and continuing conversation on how to make our nation better and I must thank the Governor of Delta, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, for his tireless effort in ensuring that this meeting held.”
Beyond the EndSARS issue, he said, 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.
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 Governor Nyeson Ezenwo Wike, for his stance against the outlawed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) which hijacked the EndSARS protest and killed 10 security operatives, torched stations and court buildings in Oyigbo, adding that the unity of the country, in spite of the diversity, remained the strength of the nation, adding that all hands must be on deck to ensure that peace returned to the country.
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 has 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.
IGP Adamu further disclosed that aside the massive economic effects of the protests, 243 public facilities were burnt, 71 warehouses looted, 610 vehicles destroyed, 134 police stations burnt,164 police vehicles destroyed and 136 firearms carted away.
He added that 65 civilians were killed during the protests and 37 policemen gruesomely murdered while 196 persons were seriously injured
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, in a vote of thanks, commended the Federal Government delegation and stakeholders of the region for attending the meeting and urged the federal authorities to ensure implementation of the region’s demands.
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. 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 otherso.
Additional report from Nelson Egware, SSA Media to the Delta State Governor