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Politics Of A Presidential Team And S’South Dev

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The meeting was originally scheduled and publicised to hold on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at the Government House in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital and apparent regional headquarters of the South-South geo-political zone. It was, however, botched and some illogical explanations advanced by the Presidency following a barrage of protestations and a demand for an unreserved apology from the Federal Government by governors, governments and peoples of the region.
Exactly one week later, on Tuesday, November 24, 2020, the meeting between the presidential delegation headed by the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, and a cross section of leaders of the region was reconvened at the Rivers State Government’s seat of power, this time around, without much pre-event promotional publicity that attended the ill-fated one.
Alongside the Chief of Staff on the presidential team were the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, Minister of State for  Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Power, Goddy Agba, Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo,  Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, the Director General of the Department of State Services, Yusuf Magaji Bichi and the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, amongst others.
Conspicuously absent was the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, in spite of President Muhammadu Buhari’s express directive for all cabinet ministers from the region to be part of the delegation.
In attendance on the side of the South-South region were Governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Ben Ayade of Cross River State, Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State, Douye Diri of Bayelsa State, Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State (who is also the chairman of the South-South Governors Forum)  and other stakeholders like the National chairman of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Idongesit Nkanga.
While there is no indication yet whether the presidency offered the apology earlier demanded by the South-South stakeholders or that the leaders of the region insisted on it, the meeting obviously sailed smoothly.
Intended to identify and deal with latent fundamental issues with the potential of re-enacting the ill-fated #ENDSARS nationwide protests, the meeting, which had also held in other regions of the country, lived up to its billing as it afforded the South-South region’s leaders the opportunity to present nagging socio-political and economic concerns of the people.
Making the presentation on behalf of the governors and peoples of the region, the chairman of the South-South Governors Forum and Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa demanded the restructuring of the Nigerian Federation to align with the principles of true federalism as a guarantee for peace, security and political stability of the nation.
According to Governor Okowa, only the practice 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” would meet the aspiration of the people.
“We are all aware of the huge endowment of this country. As such, it is imperative to stress that with a little bit of effort, 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”, he said.
While reiterating the agitation for the relocation of the headquarters of all oil multi-nationals operating in the country and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation’s (NNPC) subsidiaries from Lagos and Abuja to the South-South region, Okowa urged the immediate implementation of the consent judgement delivered in the Supreme Court suit No: SC/964/2016 to enable the South-South region get its share of $55 billion shortfall of collection of deep offshore and inland basin production sharing contracts.
The Governor of Delta State underlined the commitment of the South-South region to the restructuring of Nigeria in a way that guarantees fiscal federalism and devolution of powers to the states to create and manage their own police and security architecture under a federal structure.
He further demanded the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Port Harcourt, Calabar and Warri Seaports in order to enhance the economic development of the region while asking for the immediate privatisation of the Federal Government owned refineries in Port Harcourt and Warri with the states in the region considered for considerable equity in fairness and justice.
In fact, the presentation is captured succinctly in a seven-point demand viz:
1. Immediate relocation of headquarters of oil multinationals to their operational bases in the South-South region.
2. Immediate relocation of government-owned oil subsidiaries from Lagos and Abuja to the South-South region.
3. Immediate completion of the East-West Road under construction.
4. Immediate privatization of the two refineries in Port Harcourt and the one in Warri for efficiency.
5. Release of all funds due the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and that henceforth, all NDDC projects be executed in consultation with State governors.
6. The reactivation of seaports in Calabar, Port Harcourt and Warri, including the realisation of the Lagos – Calabar rail line.
7. The implementation of true federalism, resource control, fair revenue sharing and state police as the way to achieving a better Nigeria.
While promising to present the demands of the region to President Muhammadu Buhari, Prof. Gambari said that beyond the #ENDSARS issues, President Buhari acknowledges that the citizens in the region have also been dealing with other peculiarities such as the degradation of the environment due to decades of neglect, mishandling and non-adherence to environmental sustainability standards.
Many  people in the region have since expressed mixed feelings with regard to the meeting as some hold that there was nothing new about the demands and all that was needed to make a difference in the socio-economic fortunes of the people of the region and engender peace, stability and development was the political will to implement the age – old demands.
The question is: What hope is there that this meeting will bring any succour to the suffering people of the oil rich region?
The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege has already pointed out that much of what is being demanded can only be achieved through a constitutional amendment. However, there are a whole lot of others that can be achieved through the exercise of political will by the President and commander- in-chief of the Armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
For example, while it is true that such issues as resource control, devolution of power and the like may not be achievable by a Presidential Fiat, the completion of the East-West Road, the revamping of the seaports and related others can be done by executive intervention  and policy reorientation.
Indeed, the governors and those who represented the people of the region did not make any fresh demands from the Federal Government. They merely repeated what had been the main thrust of the heart cry of the people  through the activities and presentations articulated and enunciated over the years by such groups as the Ijaw National Congress (INC), the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), the Traditional Rulers of Oil Mineral Producing Communities (TROMPCOM) and sundry ethnic nationalities, associations and personalities at various official and non-formal fora.
All said and done, the people of the South-South are not asking for special favours from the Nigerian Federation. All they ask of the Nigerian State is fairness, equity, justice and inclusion. And these are the ingredients for a stable and sustainable polity.
By: Opaka Dokubo
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Yakassai Wants North To Cede Presidency In 2023

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An elder statesman, Tanko Yakassai, has said it will be unjust for Northern Nigeria to still demand the presidency in 2023.
The Tide source reports that there have been heated debates among stakeholders in the nation’s polity over power rotation between the North and the South ahead of the 2023 general elections.
At the moment, prominent northerners like the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, former Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal; and a former Senate President, Bukola Saraki appear to be interested in the 2023 presidency.
But Yakassai in reaction to the declaration of interest by some Northerners said while he is not a card-carrying member of any political party, it would be an injustice to the South for northerners to aspire for the presidency after the expiration of the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.
He said, “How can it be that it is always us the Northerners that will rule? There is no justice in this matter, we rule, they (South) rule, that is justice.”
“I am wondering what the northerners will say to the people? What will they show to the citizens of Nigeria that they benefited or will benefit in order for them to give their votes?
“In the six to seven years, what have the northerners done? What achievement has the leadership accomplished that helped in the development of the country, its economy or any other development that helps the people?
“What major achievement do the northerners have that they can use to call upon all other Nigerians to give them votes again?”
The elder statesman said his interest in politics from the beginning had always been about justice, explaining that his support for President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, was to make sure Nigeria went with the method of letting any president run his second tenure after his first; just like he said earlier.
He said that if the first four years of the tenure were not enough for the president to accomplish his goals, then eight years would be enough for him as long as he had the plan on how to accomplish them.

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Pastor Rejects Ortom’s Car Gift

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Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has recounted how Rev Samuel Alaha, who anointed him in 1992 with a prophecy that he would become governor of the state, rejected a car gift from him after the prophecy came to pass in 2015.
The governor, who made the disclosure, Sunday, during a sermon as the guest preacher at Faithway Gospel Ministries, Gboko, explained that he visited the cleric and presented the new car in appreciation but the vehicle was returned after a few days.
According to Ortom, even though Rev Alaha received the gift on the spot, he called after a few days to inform the governor that he appreciated the offer but begged to return it, saying he did not find it necessary.
Governor Ortom described the clergyman as a committed and true man of God whom he had known since 1980, lauding his zeal and commitment in service to the Almighty God.
Ortom pointed out that as Governor, he was determined to execute God’s counsel to people of the state at all times.
He admonished the congregation to seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and assured that “all other things will be added on to you.”
Governor Ortom also called on Christians to go back to the time when there was love towards one another “as it used to be in the past when we became Christians. True brotherly love is lacking today, that is why there seems to be conflict all the time.”
Touching on the unity in the family, the governor told couples to begin to show love towards one another to celebrate accommodation, tolerance and faith in God.

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Ogun: PDP’ll Produce Next Gov – Ayu

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The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Iyorchia Ayu, has declared that the PDP would produce the next governor of Ogun State in 2023.
Ayu said considering the record, which according to him, shows that the PDP had produced the first PDP president in 1999, who hails from Ogun State, the state remains a PDP state.
Ayu said, this last Saturday while addressing a large crowd of PDP members at the party secretariat in Abeokuta.
Ayu, who was flanked by members of the national working committee, former governors, the leader of Ogun PDP, Oladipupo Adebutu, the State Chairman, Sikirullahi Ogundele, among others told the state Governor, Dapo Abiodun and the All Progressives Congress to prepare to leave the government for the PDP in 2023.
The chairman said the APC governments both at the federal and the states had made lives difficult for Nigerians, adding that it was time to vote the party out of power.
Ayu, who earlier held a private meeting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, said he would be returning to Ogun to mobilise PDP members across all levels, as part of efforts to unseat the APC in 2023.
He said, “I only came to greet my boss and our father, President Obasanjo. I didn’t know that all my people are here. I will come back to mobilise the people of Ogun State in every ward, in every local government because in 2023 we shall produce a PDP governor in Ogun State after which we shall produce a PDP president who will make things better for you.”
In his remarks, Adebutu, who is a PDP governorship aspirant, reiterated his commitment to the development of Ogun State.
He said, “I am sacrificing my comfort for you, not because I need something to eat but I want to create a better tomorrow for you. I will continue to sacrifice for you and I bring to you this sacrifice and this solution. Let us be together. Do you agree with me?”

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