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 was not at peace with itself, and was also not working as it should, particularly, for the people of the South-South region.
The 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 the presidential delegation led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Amb Ibrahim Gambari at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Okowa explained that the people of the South-South were 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.
The South-South demands “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”, the governor said.
He said the that kind of federation the South-South geopolitical desires, is one where the 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 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 the resources of the region have been used continually to develop other parts of the country”, the governors argued.
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.
Okowa requested for immediate implementation of the consent judgment delivered 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, and 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 the country’s resources in the name of turnaround 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 was 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 remarks, the Chief of Staff to the President, Amb Ibrahim Gambari, said the stakeholders’ meeting was at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari, to the presidential delegation comprising of all the ministers from the region to visit and consult with representatives of the people regarding the recent #EndSARS protests.
Gambari noted that reports indicated that there were instances where 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 acknowledges that the citizens in the region have also been dealing with other concerns that were peculiar to the region such as the degradation of environment due to decades of mishandling and non-adherence to environmental standards.
The chief of staff promised to convey the demands of the region to the President.
Also speaking, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, insisted that the excuse of insecurity by the multinationals for not relocating their headquarters to the South-South region was not tenable.
He stressed that the relocation of the multinational oil companies’ head offices to the region would help stem restiveness.
Wike urged the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, to make history by ensuring that the oil companies relocate their headquarters to the region during his reign in office.
The Deputy Senate President, Obarisi 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 contained in their demands were constitutional matters.
The Director General of Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Magaji Bichi, lauded Governor Nyeson Wike, for his stance against the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which hijacked the #EndSARS protests and killed 10 security operatives, torched stations and court buildings in Oyigbo.
The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed 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 had confirmed that the #EndSARS protests were funded from within and outside the country, and further added that one of the primary objectives of the protest was to effect regime change.
Present at the meeting were: Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State; Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State; Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River; Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom; Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State; and Godwin Obaseki of Edo State.
Others are: Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio; Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva; Minister of State for Power, Goddy Jedy Agba; Minister of State for Niger Delta, Festus Keyamo (SAN); Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire; and the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammad.
However, the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, who represents the state in Buhari’s cabinet was, however, absent.
Other eminent persons present included, the National Chairman of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (rtd); former President, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Onueze Okocha (SAN); among others.
Trans-Kalabari Road: Banigo, Stakeholders Condemn Abduction Of Expatriate
Kalabari traditional rulers and stakeholders have condemned the recent abduction of an expatriate staff of Lubric Construction Company working on the Trans-Kalabari Road.
Speaking at a meeting at the Government House in Port Harcourt, last Friday, Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo said she was deeply pained by the unfortunate incident carried out by unknown miscreants.
According to the deputy governor, who said that the State Chief Executive Officer, Nyesom Wike, was desirous to bring more development projects to Kalabari Kingdom, regretted that this act was capable of discouraging him.
“I want to reiterate that our governor is very desirous to do more developmental projects in our communities, there are many more things he has in the card to do for us, and if we allow this ugly thing to surface, that attitude will discourage him”, the deputy governor noted.
Banigo, who said that perpetrators of the heinous crime did not drop from the sky, insisted that they were community people, and must be fished out and dealt with decisively, while calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the abductee.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority, Chief Ferdinand Alabraba, expressed regrets that a project as important as the Trans-Kalabari Road would be tampered with by persons who do not mean well for the Kalabari people.
“If their intention is to run down the good works of our dear governor, over a project which the Kalabari people have been yearning for over the years, then, I am sure God Almighty will not allow them to get away with this dastardly act of kidnapping one expatriate”, Alabraba stressed.
Alabraba further said, “It is important that we talk to ourselves and ensure that everything possible is done to ensure immediate release of the victim, and ensure that measures are put in place to forestall this type of thing in the future”.
Presenting a seven-point communique, Amanyanabo of Minama, King Iboroma Talbot Pokubo, who represented the Amanyanabo of Abonnema, King Disreal Gbobo Bobmanuel, demanded for the immediate and unconditional release of the expatriate, and reassured Governor Wike of their unwavering support for the governor.
Buhari Approves Incorporation Of NNPC, Appoints Board Members
President Muhammadu Buhari, has directed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited be incorporated.
He also approved the appointment of the Board and Management of the NNPC Limited with Senator Ifeanyi Ararume as chairman.
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari, was appointed chief executive officer.
This was contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, saying that the president acted in accordance with the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.
The statement read, “President Muhammadu Buhari, in his capacity as Minister of Petroleum Resources, has directed the incorporation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited.
“This is in consonance with Section 53(1) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, which requires the Minister of Petroleum Resources to cause for the incorporation of the NNPC Limited within six months of commencement of the Act in consultation with the Minister of Finance on the nominal shares of the company.
“The Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr Mele Kolo Kyari, has, therefore, been directed to take necessary steps to ensure that the incorporation of the NNPC Limited is consistent with the provisions of the PIA 2021.
“Also, by the power vested in him under Section 59(2) of the PIA 2021, President Buhari has approved the appointment of the Board and Management of the NNPC Limited, with effect from the date of incorporation of the company.
“Chairman of the board is Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, while Mele Kolo Kyari and Umar I. Ajiya are chief executive officer, and chief financial officer, respectively.
“Other board members are; Dr Tajudeen Umar (North-East); Mrs Lami O. Ahmed (North-Central); Mallam Mohammed Lawal (North-West); Senator Margaret Chuba Okadigbo (South-East), Barrister Constance Harry Marshal (South-South); and Chief Pius Akinyelure (South-West).”
Reject Buhari’s Fresh Loan Request, SERAP Tells NASS
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan; and Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila; to reject the fresh request by President Muhammadu Buhari, to borrow $4billion and €710million.
SERAP said if such request must be granted, the Federal Government should publish details of spending of all loans obtained since May 29, 2015.
The group also expressed fear that if the fresh request is granted, it may take Nigeria’s to over N35trillion.
Buhari recently sought the approval of the National Assembly to borrow $4,054,476,863 and €710million, on the grounds of “emerging needs.”
The request was contained in a letter dated August 24, 2021.
In an open letter dated September 18, 2021, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation expressed “concerns about the growing debt crisis, the lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of loans that have been obtained, and the perceived unwillingness or inability of the National Assembly to vigorously exercise its constitutional duties to check the apparently indiscriminate borrowing by the government.”
SERAP said, “The National Assembly should not allow the government to accumulate unsustainable levels of debt, and use the country’s scarce resources for staggering and crippling debt service payments rather than for improved access of poor and vulnerable Nigerians to basic public services and human rights.
“The country’s public debt has mushroomed with no end in sight. The growing national debt is clearly not sustainable. There has been no serious attempt by the government to cut the cost of governance. The leadership of the National Assembly ought to stand up for Nigerians by asserting the body’s constitutional powers to ensure limits on national debt and deficits.
“Should the National Assembly and its leadership fail to rein in government borrowing, and to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of public loans, SERAP would consider appropriate legal action to compel the National Assembly to discharge its constitutional duties.
“SERAP notes that if approved, the country’s debts will exceed N35trillion. The government is also reportedly pushing the maturity of currently-secured loans to between 10 and 30 years. N11.679trillion is reportedly committed into debt servicing, while only N8.31trillion was expended on capital/development expenditure between 2015 and 2020.
“Ensuring transparency and accountability in the spending of loans by the government and cutting the cost of governance would address the onerous debt servicing, and improve the ability of the government to meet the country’s international obligations to use maximum available resources to ensure the enjoyment of basic economic and social rights, such as quality healthcare and education”, SERAP added.
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