Governors from the South-South region of the country have lamented the underdevelopment of their region, stating that their resources are used to develop other parts of the country.
Ifeanyi Okowa, chairman of the south-south governors forum said this during the regional stakeholders meeting with the presidential delegation led by Ibrahim Gambari, chief of staff to the president on Tuesday November 24.
In a statement issued by Kelvin Ebiri, special assistant on media to Governor Nyesom Wike, the South-South Governors made a list of their demands, which includes a proposal for the relocation of the headquarters of major oil companies, and subsidiaries of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) from Lagos and Abuja to the south-south region.
The Governors also stated that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) will no longer be allowed to execute any project in any state in the region without consulting the governments following its “major failures”. They added that they have a court order to back this.
The statement read;
“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 was quoted as saying.
“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 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.
“Okowa also requested for 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 statement read.
“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 that have continued to bleed the country’s resources in the name of turn around maintenance, should be privatised.”
“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.”
Speaking at the meeting, Gambari commended the governors for their efforts and also disclosed that Buhari’s administration is aware of the challenges of the region and is making efforts to address them. He also promised to present the demands of the governors to the president.