The issues of resource control, which has been a major topic in the Niger Delta region being the right to control or manage the revenue accruing from oil and other natural resources in line with the tenets of true federalism, would be in the news again as South-south governors and leaders are set to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.
Also, to form major plank of discussion is the issues of restructuring of the country which has been agitating a section of the country.
This is coming as President Muhammadu Buhari had few days ago delegated his Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, to lead high profile government officials to various parts of the country to engage with youths and other stakeholders as part of the process to address their grievances resulting from the #EndSARS protest in the country.
Prof Gambari’s assignment came after President Buhari’s Thursday meeting with selected traditional rulers led by the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, in Abuja.
The Chief of Staff is expected to report back to the President on the various perspectives gleaned from the engagements.
Gambari, is billed to meet leaders of the south-south geopolitical zone on Friday in Port-Harcourt.
Chairman of the South-south Governors’ Forum and Governor of Delta state, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, who spoke about the meeting on Wednesday said that states in the South-South region were united in the quest for restructuring of the country.
Okowa said that restructuring and resource control as well as security issues would form a major plank of the discussion at a meeting between a Presidential delegation and leaders of the South-South billed for Port Harcourt on Friday.
Okowa stated this during his quarterly interaction with journalists on Wednesday in Asaba.
He said that there was need to restructure the country to pave the way for the devolution of more powers to states and local governments.
According to Okowa, Nigeria is not making progress as it ought to because the issues of restructuring and resource control are yet to be addressed.
“The South-South Governors have been in the forefront for the devolution of power to states and local governments.
“Restructuring, resource control and security of the country, especially in the Niger Delta will be a major topic of discussion at the Presidential parley coming up in Port Harcourt,” he said.
Responding to a question on the Gold deposit in Zamfara and the decision by the state government to control the resource,, the governor said that there were Acts of the National Assembly that dealt with oil production and solid minerals.
“We cannot apply laws in such a manner that it becomes discriminatory because you cannot mine solid minerals somewhere in Zamfara and you can’t allow Niger Delta to manage their oil,’’ he said.
On complaints from oil producing communities, he said that there was an ongoing process to ensure that what got to the communities became statutory and enshrined in the Constitution or in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Okowa said that governors in the South-South were doing well in managing the 13 per cent Derivation fund to their states.
“The kind of money we spend, especially on road construction in the Niger Delta is very huge compared to what other states spend and we also spend lots of money securing oil facilities and keeping peace in the region.
“We have our DESOPADEC managing the derivation funds and I am convinced that they are doing their best to make life better for the oil-producing communities.
“We have been short-changed severally because we are not in control of how the funds are distributed. There is a lot of money being owed us on derivation and we are working very hard to get the Federal Government to pay us because it will help us so much in our budget to provide more for the oil producing communities.
“If every community rises up to control their resources then there will be chaos and anarchy,” he said.
The governor hinted that the state government may employ more teachers in the first quarter of 2021 to cater for newly established technical colleges being constructed across the state.