Governors and people of the South-South geopolitical zone have demanded the restructuring of Nigeria, in line with the principle of true federalism to guarantee peace, security, and stability of the nation.
The South-South leaders believe the country is not at peace with itself and not working as it should, particularly for the people of the region.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, who is the Chairman of the South-South Governors Forum, stated this on Tuesday as the position of the zone during the regional stakeholders meeting with a presidential delegation.
This followed an initial meeting which failed to hold as a result of an emergency National Security meeting.
The delegation, led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, met with the governors and other leaders of the region at the Government House in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
Governor Okowa informed the delegation that the people of the South-South were committed to the restructuring of the country in a way that would guarantee true federalism and devolution of powers to the states 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 the governor, the kind of federation the South-South 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,” he said.
Governor Okowa added, “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”.
On behalf of the region, he reiterated the call for the relocation of the headquarters of major oil companies from Lagos and Abuja to the South-South.
Privatise Them Now
The governor also requested the 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 the $55billion shortfall of collection on deep offshore and inland basin production sharing contracts.
He 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 region.
In addition, Governor Okowa demanded that the two refineries in Port Harcourt and one in Warri should be privatised.
“Enough is enough. Let us now privatize them and in doing so, however, allow the states and the region among others, considerable equity in the name of fairness and justice,” he said.
The governor observed that one of the major failures of the intervention agency – Niger Delta Development Commission (NCDC) – 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 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, Professor Gambari explained that the stakeholders meeting was at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari, to the delegation comprising all the ministers from the region to visit and consult with representatives of the people regarding the recent #EndSARS protest.
He noted that reports indicated that there were instances where the breakdown of law and order was recorded in various locations in the South-South states.
Decades Of Mishandling
The presidential aide lauded the governors for their quick response and actions in addressing the crisis in the region.
Beyond the issue of #EndSARS, he said the President acknowledged that the people in the region have been dealing with other concerns that were particular to them, such as the degradation of the environment due to decades of mishandling and adherence to environmental standards.
Professor Gambari promised to convey the demands of the governors and leaders of the region to the President.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, on his part, 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 raised were constitutional matters.
Present at the meeting were Governor Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Governor Ben Ayade (Cross River), Governor Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), Governor Douye Diri (Bayelsa), and Godwin Obaseki (Edo).
Ministers present included Godswill Akpabio (Niger Delta), Timipre Sylva (State for Petroleum), Goddy Agba (State for Power), Festus Keyamo (State for Niger Delta), Osagie Ehanire (Health), and Lai Mohammed (Information and Culture).
While the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, was absent, the National Chairman of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Onueze Okocha, among others were present.
Ministry of Petroleum Resources Says No Increase in Fuel Price in March
…Cautions against Hoarding, Panic Buying
Contrary to speculations of imminent increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) in the country, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva and The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has ruled out any increment in the ex-depot price of petrol in March, 2021.
A press release by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Dr. Kennie Obateru, stated that the Corporation was not contemplating any raise in the price of petrol in March in order not to jeopardize ongoing engagements with organized labour and other stakeholders on an acceptable framework that will not expose the ordinary Nigerian to any hardship.
NNPC also cautioned petroleum products marketers not to engage in arbitrary price increase or hoarding of petrol in order not to create artificial scarcity and unnecessary hardship for Nigerians.
The Corporation further stated that it has enough stock of petrol to keep the nation well supplied for over 40 days and urged motorists to avoid panic buying.
It further called on relevant regulatory authorities to step up monitoring of the activities of marketers with a view to sanctioning those involved in products hoarding or arbitrary increase of pump price.
Dr. Kennie Obateru
Group General Manager
Group Public Affairs Division
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation
NNPC Towers, Abuja.
28th February, 2021.
No Bench Warrant against NDDC Interim Administrator – Senator Nwaoboshi
… Says money allocated for new NDDC Hdqs well uilitised
Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, has refuted reports that the Senate issued a bench warrant for the arrest of the Interim Administrator of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr. Efiong Akwa.
Senator Nwaboshi, who was speaking during the oversight visit of the Senate Committee at the new NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt, described the reports as untrue, saying that he was reliably informed that no such order was issued.
“The Interim Administrator has been reaching out, communicating and discussing with the Senate,” he stated, adding: “He opened discussions with us. We are happy that he accepted that there is need for cooperation and collaboration for Niger Delta to move forward.”
The Senate Committee chairman, however, disclosed that the Senate was still investigating the issues connected with the NDDC COVID-19 palliative funds, adding: “We are aware that the NDDC Interim Administrator was not part of the NDDC leadership team at the time.”
He stated that the NDDC boss was appointed Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration of the Commission in August, 2020, “a month after the National Assembly began probing the matter. He was not a party to any of the transactions on the palliatives.”
Sen. Nwaoboshi also expressed delight over the completion of the NDDC permanent headquarters, noting that the Committee had appropriated N16 billion for the completion of the headquarters building.
He stated: “We are happy to sit at the headquarters today. We have come to see how the money has been used in executing the project. We want to know whether the money has been well uilitised. And I want to state that we are happy with what we have seen. The money has been well utilised.”
Welcoming members of the Senate Committee, to the NDDC permanent headquarters, Mr. Akwa commended the Committee for their unflinching support for the NDDC, noting that the support was critical for the development and progress of the Niger Delta region.
Akwa said: “For about a year we had misunderstanding with some members of the National Assembly. The members are noble men and they had to bend backwards to bury the hatchet in the interest of the region. When I went to the joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives to defend the 2020 budget, they cooperated with us. I assured them that we will insist on doing the right thing at the NDDC.”
The Interim Administrator later took members of the Senate Committee on a tour of the newly completed headquarters complex.
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