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South South demands restructuring, federalism

By Ann Godwin, Port Harcourt
25 November 2020   |   4:18 am
Governors and people of the South South geopolitical zone have demanded for restructuring anchored on true federalism for peace, security and stability of Nigeria.

Ifeanyi Okowa

Governors and people of the South South geopolitical zone have demanded for restructuring anchored on true federalism for peace, security and stability of Nigeria.

The state chief executives maintained that the country was not at peace and working as it should, particularly, for the people of the oil-rich region.

Chairman of the South South Governors Forum, Ifeanyi Okowa, advanced the position of the zone yesterday during a stakeholders’ meeting with a presidential delegation, led by Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, at Government House, Port Harcourt.

The Delta State’s helmsman restated the people’s commitment to restructuring in a manner that guarantees true federalism and devolution of powers to the component units and management of their police and security architecture under a federal structure.

He canvassed true federalism premised on derivation, revenue sharing and control of resources by each state of the federation as practised in the First Republic.

Okowa said the kind of federation the South South wants was one where “federating units are constitutionally empowered to create their own structures like Local Government Areas, manage their elections and control their judiciary.”

He went on: “We are all aware of the huge endowments in 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.

“What is worse and even more painful in this ugly situation is the deliberate lack of understanding, empathy and the uncompromising attitude 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 its resources have been used continually to develop other parts of the country.”

The governors reiterated their call for the relocation of headquarters of major oil companies and NNPC subsidiaries from Lagos and Abuja to the region.

Okowa requested for immediate implementation of the consent judgment entered in the Supreme Court suit No: SC/964/2016 to enable South South region get its share of $55 billion shortfall in collection on deep offshore and inland basin production sharing contracts.

The chief executives further called for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the seaports in Port Harcourt, Calabar, and Warri to enhance economic development of the area.

In addition, they demanded that the refineries in Port Harcourt and Warri, which have been consuming huge scarce resources in the name of turn-around maintenance, be privatised.

“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,” Okowa added.

Concerned about the rot in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the governors observed that one of the major failures of the interventionist agency was its refusal to foster synergy, consultation and cooperation with the state governments, particularly on project location, development and execution.

In his remarks, Prof. Gambari, who said the parley was in furtherance of President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to his aides to engage stakeholders in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests, noted that there were instances of breakdown of law and order across the states in the region.

He lauded the governors for their swift response to the crisis.

Gambari promised to convey demands of the zone to his principal, which he added, the Nigerian leader was familiar with.

Also speaking, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, urged 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.