Governors and leaders of the South-South geopolitical zone have demanded restructuring of the country in line with the principle of true federalism, saying it will guarantee peace, security and stability in the country.
The South-South leaders decried the present arrangement, where others zones depend on the resources of the Niger Delta. They said such an arrangement could not engender the development.
They observed that Nigeria was not at peace with itself and not working as it should, particularly for the people of the South-South.
The Chairman of the South-South Governors forum and Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, made the positions of the zone known during the regional stakeholders meeting with presidential delegation led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
The media aide to Rivers State Governor, Kelvin Ebiri in a statement on the outcome of the Port Harcourt meeting quoted Okowa as saying that the people of the zone were committed to restructuring of Nigeria in a way that would guarantee true federalism and devolution of powers to the states.
He said states would be able to create and manage their own police and security architecture under a federal structure.
He called for “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.”
According to him, the kind of federation the South-South geopolitical desires is one where federating units are constitutionally empowered to create their own structures like local government areas, manage their elections and control their judiciary.
“We are all aware of the huge endowment of this country. As such, it is imperative to stress that with a little bit of efforts, 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”.
The governors reiterated the call for the relocation of the headquarters of major oil companies, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and its subsidiaries from Lagos and Abuja to the South-South.
Okowa also requested immediate implementation of the consent judgment entered in the Supreme Court Suit No: SC/964/2016 to enable the South-South region to get its share of $55bn shortfall of collection on deep offshore and inland basin production sharing contracts.
The governors further called for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the region’s major seaports in Port Harcourt, Calabar and 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 had continued to bleed the country’s resources in the name of turnaround maintenance, should be privatized.
According to him, “Enough is enough. Let us now privatise them and in doing so however, allow the states and the region among others, considerable equity in the name of fairness and justice”.
Concerned about the rot in the Niger Delta Development Commission, the governors observed that one of the major failures of the intervention agency was its refusal to forge and foster synergy, consultation and cooperation with the state governments especially, on project location, development and execution.
He stated, “We have resolved and we, as the state governments will no longer allow the NDDC to execute any project (s) in any state of the region without it consulting state governments. Frankly, enough is enough and we have a court judgment to back our position.”
In his remark, the Chief of Staff to the President, Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari, said the stakeholders meeting was at the instance of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd).
The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, said excuse of insecurity by the multinationals for not relocating to the South-South region was not tenable, saying their relocation to the region would help stem restiveness.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege, urged the leaders of the region to avail themselves of the on-going review of the 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly since most of the issues contained in their demands are constitutional matters.
Present at the meeting according to Governor Wike’s media aide were: Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State; Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River; Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akw Ibom; Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State; and Godwin Obaseki of Edo State.
Others are Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta; Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum; Goddy Jedy Agba Minister of State, Power; Festus Keyamo, Minister of State, for Niger Delta; Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammad.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi was, however, absent.
Nigeria: 5.8 million COVID Infections Averted With 2020 Lockdown
As Nigeria grapples with rising infections caused by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a team of international public health researchers have revealed that the lockdown and restrictions imposed in the country between March and May 2020 may have averted not less than 5.8 million infections.
The team of researchers drawn from the United States, South Africa and Nigeria, said their findings “support the use of restricted mobility as a measure for infection control in Nigeria.”
They however, pointed out that, even during the lockdown and restrictions, noticeable spikes in people’s movement occurred on Saturdays and Sundays which could be attributed to social events (e.g. parties [or Ówàmbē in a local dialect]) and religious activities.
The research findings which are based on information from confirmed COVID-19 cases provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) from February 27 to July 21 2020 and Nigeria specific mobility data from Google in same period, was published by the highly reputable public health journal JAMA Network Open.
The researchers are drawn from institutions in the United States (i.e. Parexel International, Harvard university and Holly Hill hospital), South Africa (i.e. Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University) and Nigeria (i.e. Benue State University as well as Universities of Ibadan, Lagos and Calabar).
The researchers explained that their work was motivated by the need to better understand how the lockdown affected peoples’ movement and community spread of COVID-19: this information could inform future public health responses to subsequent waves of COVID-19.
“.. our study goals were to measure the association of government-mandated closures and restrictions with aggregate mobility, to evaluate associations between aggregate mobility and number of individuals with laboratory confirmed SARS-COV-2 infections and to estimate the number of SARS COV-2 infections that may have been averted.
They observed that the World Health Organization (WHO), Director General , Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had on January 30, 2020 declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, asking all countries to prepare for containment, active surveillance, early detection, isolation, case management and contact tracing.
“Most countries including Nigeria (Africa’s largest economy and the most populous country), responded accordingly, and part of the Nigerian government response included socioeconomic and public health interventions to reduce impact of the pandemic.
“Socio economic interventions included providing cash transfers, lines of credit and food assistance to poor and high-risk households, while public health interventions included government-mandated closures and restrictions on schools, social gatherings and all forms of transportation (locally referred to as lockdown)
The closures and restrictions were initiated on March 30, 2020 and partially eased on May 4, 2020. The researchers used sophisticated statistical techniques to analyze NCDC data on daily infection counts, anonymized Google mobility data from Nigeria (covering about 40 million individuals who activated location history on their smartphone google accounts), and publicly available information on the lockdown (e.g. dates for initiating and partially easing the lockdown).
The cross-sectional study found that government-mandated closures and restrictions in Nigeria owing to COVID-19 was associated with significantly reduced aggregate mobility everywhere (except in residential areas) and may have averted up to 5.8 million corona virus infections. Additionally, they found that community spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria may have been faster in residential areas , transit stations (e.g. motor parks) and workplaces (including likely venues of social events).
While stressing that “our findings support the use of restricted mobility as a measure of infection control in Nigeria should there be additional COVID-19 waves in the future”, the researchers pointed out that “restrictions on movement are unsustainable in the long term, and that “future closure and restrictions, if warranted, need to be more effective.
“Suggested areas of improvement include tougher restrictions on movement and more robust contact tracing in residential areas, transit hubs and workplaces, greater testing capacity and more political support for testing; greater access to COVID-19 data for policy and process evaluation to identify opportunities for efficiency gains: and more personal responsibility above and beyond the public health campaign dubbed the 3 Ws (i.e washing hands (or using hand sanitizer regularly wearing a cloth mask over the nose and mouth, and waiting 6 feet apart (or social distancing).”
Gov’ Fayemi Congratulates Father Kukah On New Appointment
Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi has congratulated the Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Most Revd (Dr) Matthew Hassan Kukah on his appointment into the papal dicastery on the promotion of integral human development.
The Governor, in a personally signed congratulatory letter dated 19th January 2021, stated that the appointment was an unequivocal expression of Pope Francis’ confidence in Bishop Kukah’s ability to be an “impeccable advisor on a wide range of human development issues”.
Dr Fayemi described the dicastery as a perfect place for Kukah because it is one of the apostolic ministration of the papal in “reaching the weak, seeking social justice and ending all forms of practices inimical to the dignity of man”.
“It goes without saying that your role as a pastor, social commentator, public intellectual, peace-maker, interfaith conciliator and fighter for the rights of the underprivileged, readily recommend you for this latest addition to your enviable pedigree as a social justice crusader”, the Governor said.
Fayemi added that he had no doubt that the Bishop would bring his competence and character to bear on his new role.
” On behalf of my wife, the government and good people of Ekiti State, kindly accept my best wishes as you resume your new role” , the Governor added.
Northern Elders To Akeredolu: Your Quit Notice On Herdsmen Provocative
The Northern Elders’ Forum on Wednesday described as provocative and unhelpful an order given to Fulani herdsmen to leave Ondo forests by the State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, adding that it was shocked to have heard such directive.
The forum, which warned the governor not to allow mischief-makers to compound security challenges in the country with his order, urged him “to rescind his order on the Fulani, or clarify his position in the event that he is misunderstood.”
In a statement signed by Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the forum argued that Akeredolu as a senior lawyer should know that Nigerian constitution does not give him the power to deny any Nigerian the right to live where he chooses if he does not break the law in the process.
It would be recalled that Ondo State governor had ordered Fulani herdsmen residing in the various forests of the State to vacate in order to curb the rising cases of kidnapping cases in the State.
But NEF said that if there were criminal elements among the Fulani herders who live in the State, the Governor should take appropriate steps to identify them and deal with them.
The forum maintained that it was dangerous and unacceptable to profile and demonize the Fulanis and treat them outside the laws of the land like all other Nigerians.
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