Governors, other leaders and people of the South-South geopolitical zone have demanded restructuring in line with the principle of true federalism, to guarantee peace, security and stability of Nigeria.
The governors equally reiterated the call for the relocation of the headquarters of major oil companies, NNPC subsidiaries from Lagos and Abuja to the South-South region.
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, Rivers State on Tuesday.
Kelvin Ebiri, Special Adviser (Media) to the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, revealed this in a Tuesday night statement.
He said that the governors observed that the country was not at peace with itself and not working as it should particularly for the people of the South-South region.
According to the statement, Okowa explained that 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.
Okowa further said that the zone was desirous of “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 added that the South-South geopolitical zone desired a nation 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 Delta governor was further quoted to have said.
Governor Okowa requested 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 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 which they said have continued to bleed the country’s resources 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,” the South-South governors forum chairmen stressed.
In his remark, the Chief of Staff to the President, Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari, said the stakeholders meeting was at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari, to the presidential delegation comprising all the ministers from the region to visit and consult with representatives of the people regarding the recent #EndSARS protest.
Gambari noted that reports indicated that there were instances where the breakdown of law and order was reported across various locations in the South-South states.
He lauded the governors of the South-South States for their quick response and actions in addressing the EndSARS crisis.
Beyond the EndSARS issue, he said, the President acknowledged 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 would 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.