In a consultative meeting held Tuesday with delegations from the Federal Government (FG) of Nigeria, the leaders of the South-South region demanded the country be restructured, while insisting on true federalism.
The meeting which the governors, ministers, and other stakeholders from the coastal region was held at Rivers State government House, Port Harcourt and centered on the peace and stability of the country.
Chairman of the South-South Governors’ Forum and Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, who presented the region’s demand, said the nation was not at peace because the country had failed to practice true federalism.
Okowa said that it was time to restore the country to a true federation with all the attributes and nuances of a federal state.
“For us in the South-South, the #ENDSARS protest is a metaphor of almost all that is wrong with us, our refusal to properly understand issues, and imbibe and entrench the virtues of justice, fairness, and equity.
“The previous system of true federalism was jettisoned and it created a powerful center controlling and distributing all the resources unevenly.
“There was now a strong desire to restructure the country to guarantee peace, security, stability, and progress of the nation.
“The region demands true federalism and devolution of powers to the states, including creating and managing their police and security architecture, true fiscal federalism guided by the principle of derivation, revenue sharing and control of resources by each state,” he said.
He decried the deliberate lack of understanding, empathy, and uncompromising attitudes of some Nigerians, who refused to understand the particular challenges of the South-South region, especially the degradation of the environment and the pollution of our waters.
“All we demand and ask for is fairness and equity and as we await actions to restructure the country, we hereby renew our demands for: The relocation of the headquarters of major oil companies in Nigeria to the region; relocation of several NNPC subsidiaries from Lagos and Abuja to the region.
“The region further requested the completion without delay of the East-West Road and all federal roads in the region; Construction of the Lagos-Calabar railway, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of the region’s major seaports notably the Port Harcourt, Calabar, and Warri”.
Amongst other things demanded were as follows:
The privatization of the Port Harcourt and Warri refineries after several failed turn-around maintenance attempts.
The release of all funds owed Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and for the amendment of the NDDC Act to place the commission on a first-line charge.
The stakeholders decried the annual flooding challenge in the region and called for the establishment of buffer dams to control flood waters in the region.
They also called for the completion of the abandoned Gas Revolution Industrial Park at Ogidigben, and the stepping down of electricity at the Okpai and Utorogu gas plants.
Nwada Ugochinyere Onyechere reporting, Obinwannem News