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S’South leaders intensify demand for Nigeria’s restructuring

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Delta governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, says governors and political leaders across the South-South region were united in the quest to intensify demands for restructuring of the country.

Okowa, who stated this during his quarterly interaction with journalists on Wednesday in Asaba, argued that there was need to restructure the country to pave the way for the devolution of more powers to states and local governments.

The Delta governor, who is the chairman of South-South Governors’ Forum, insisted that Nigeria was not making progress as it ought to because the issues of restructuring and resource control were yet to be addressed.

According to him, restructuring and resource control, as well as security 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 this weekend.

“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.

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