Leaders from the South-South region of Nigeria on Tuesday met with a Federal Government delegation led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, to highlight their demands.
At the meeting which took place at the Government House, Port Harcourt, the South-South leaders demanded, amongst other things, restructuring, true federalism and the devolution of powers.
They urged the Federal Government to facilitate the relocation of the headquarters of all major oil companies to the South-South while calling for the establishment of state police forces.
The South-South leaders also requested the rehabilitation of the region’s major seaports in Port Harcourt, Calabar and Warri as well as the completion of the East-West Road and all other federal roads in the region.
They sought the immediate implementation of the consent judgment entered in the Supreme Court Suit No: SC/964/2016 to enable the South-south gets its share of $55 billion shortfall of collection on deep offshore and inland basin production sharing contracts.
Speaking on behalf of the South-South leaders, the Chairman of the South-South Governors Forum and Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa told the delegation that ‘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 is what the region wants.
According to him, the South-South region desires a federation where its constituent units are constitutionally empowered to create their own structures like local government areas, manage their elections and control their judiciary.
For his part, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege urged the 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 are constitutional matters.
In his address, COS to the President, Prof Gambari said the meeting was in response to the president’s mandate that the presidential delegation comprising all the ministers from the region to visit and consult the representatives of the people regarding the recent #EndSARS protest.
Gambari noted that there were reports of breakdown of law and order across various locations in the South-South states, lauding the governors for their quick response and actions in addressing the #EndSARS crisis.
Governors who attended the meeting include: Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta); Nyesom Wike (Rivers); Ben Ayade (Cross River); Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom); Godwin Obaseki (Edo); and Douye Diri (Bayelsa).
Ministers at the meeting include: Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio; Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva; Minister of State for Power, Mr. Goddy Jeddy- Agba; Minister of State for Niger Delta, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN); Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, and Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
Other stakeholders present at the meeting were: the National Chairman of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (Rtd); former President, Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Onueze Okocha (SAN); and President, Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), worldwide, Mr. Peter Igbifa, amongst others.
The Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi was absent.
Recall that the meeting which was earlier slated for November 17 was rescheduled because it coincided with an emergency meeting of the National Security Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, in Abuja.