Governor Okowa and the S-South leaders have insisted on the restructuring of the country and true federalism, one that includes the delegation of powers to the federating units.
S-South leaders made the demand at a consultative meeting with a federal government delegation with governors, ministers and other stakeholders from the region at Government House, Port-Harcourt.
The chairman of the S-South Governor’s Forum and Governor of Delta, Governor Okowa Ifeanyi, who presented the region’s demand, said that the nation was not at peace because the country had failed to practice true federalism.
Senator Governor Okowa said that it was time to restore the country back to a true federation with all the attributes and nuances of a federal state.
Governor Okowa said, “For us in the S-South, the #ENDSARS protest is a sign 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 abandoned and it created a powerful center controlling and distributing all the resources unevenly.
“There was now a strong desire to restructure the country in order to guarantee peace, security, stability and progress of the nation.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa further said, “The region demands true federalism and devolution of powers to the states, including creating and managing their own police and security structure, true fiscal federalism guided by the principle of derivation, revenue sharing and control of resources by each state.
The Governor decried the deliberate lack of understanding, empathy and uncompromising attitudes of some Nigerians, who refused to understand the peculiar challenges of the S-South region, especially the degradation of the environment and the pollution of our waters.
“All S-South demand and ask for is fairness and equity and as we await actions to restructure the county, 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 to Abuja to 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.
Governor Okowa and the South-South leaders also demanded the privatization of the Port-Harcourt and Warri refineries after several failed turn-around maintenance attempts.
The region called for 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.
They decried annual flooding challenge in the region and called for the establishment of buffer dams to control flood eaters in the region.
The S-South leaders also called for the completion of the abandoned Gas Revolution Industrial Part at Ogidigben and the stepping down of electricity at the Okpai and Utorogu gas plants.
Leader of the presidential delegation and Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari, thanked the people of the South-South for their co-operation, and assured that all issues reside at the meeting would be communicated to the president.
Gambari apologized for the failure of the meeting to hold on 17 of November earlier stated, and said “we are here on behalf of the president as part of the ongoing and continuation conversation on how to make our nation better and I must thank the Governor of Delta, Senator Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, for his tireless effort in ensuring that this meeting held.
“Our youths took to the streets to express their bitterness on ill-treatment inflicted out to them by the police and the President, recognising the importance of the demands made by the protesters agreed to implement the five demands.
Senator Omo-Agege, the Deputy President of the Senate, on his part, commended the youth of S-South for their peaceful disposition during the protest.
He assured that all constitutional issues canvassed would be addressed by the Constitution Review Committee and urged the governors to prevail on their Houses of Assembles to give the necessary concurrence at the appropriate time.
Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, in his remark, said aside the huge economic efforts of the protest, 164 police vehicles were destroyed, 610 vehicles destroyed, 243 public facilities were burnt, 71 warehouses looted, , 134 police stations burnt and 136 firearms carted away.
He added that 65 civilians were kicked during the protest and 37 policemen murdered while 196 persons were seriously injured.
On his part, Director-General, Department of State Service (DSS), Yusuf Magaji-Bichi, said the unity of the country, in spite of the diversity, remained the strength of the nation, adding that all hands must be on deck to ensure that peace returned to the country.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, in a vote of thanks, commended the federal government delegation and leaders of the region for attending the meeting and urged the federal authorities to ensure implementation of the region’s demands.
Those present at the meeting were; Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege; Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River; Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State; Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State; Governor Udom Emmanuerl of Akwa Ibom and Godwin Obasiki of Edo State.
Others are: Timipre Sylva, Minister for State Petroleum; Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta; Goddy Jedy Agba, Minister of State, Power; Festus Keyoma, Minister of State for Labour and Employment; Lai Mohammad, Minister of Information; Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health and Chibuke Amaechi, Minister of transportation were however absent.
Other distinguished persons present include: the National Chairman of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, rtd; former President, Nigeria Bar Association, Onueze Okocha (SAN); among others.