Leaders of the South-South on Tuesday insisted on the restructuring of the country and true federalism, one that includes the devolution of powers to the federating units.
They 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 South-South Governors’ Forum and Governor of Delta, Ifeanyi Okowa, who presented the region’s demand, said that the nation was not at peace because the country had failed to practice true federalism.
Mr 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.
“For us in the South-South, the #ENDSARS protest is a metaphor 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 jettisoned 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.
“The region demands true federalism and devolution of powers to the states, including creating and managing their own police and security architecture, true fiscal federalism guided by the principle of derivation, revenue sharing and control of resources by each state,” he said.
He decried the deliberate lack of understanding, empathy and uncompromising attitudes of some Nigerians, who refused to understand the peculiar challenges of the South-South region, especially the degradation of the environment and the pollution of our waters.
“All we demand and ask for is fairness and equity and as we await actions to restructure the country, 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 and Abuja to the 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”.
The leaders also demanded the privatisation 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 waters in the region.
They also called for the completion of the abandoned Gas Revolution Industrial Park 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 raised at the meeting would be communicated to the President.
Mr Gambari apologised for the failure of the meeting to hold on Nov. 17 earlier slated, and said “we are here on behalf of the President as part of the ongoing and continuing conversation on how to make our nation better and I must thank the Governor of Delta, Senator 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 meted 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.
“All over the world, people have right to protest but in doing so, the respect for law and order must be adhered to and they must also respect the rights of others.
“The President commends governors, traditional rulers and other stakeholders for their role in handling the protesters,” he said
Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, on his part, commended the youth of South-South for their peaceful disposition during the protests.
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 Assemblies to give the necessary concurrence at the appropriate time.
Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, in his remark, said aside the massive economic effects of the protests, 243 public facilities were burnt, 71 warehouses looted, 610 vehicles destroyed, 134 police stations burnt,164 police vehicles destroyed and 136 firearms carted away.
He added that 65 civilians were killed during the protests and 37 policemen murdered while 196 persons were seriously injured.
On his part, Director-General, Department of State Services (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.
Finally, Buhari Fires Service Chiefs, Names Replacements
After years of complaints by Nigerians about the worsening security situation amidst the overstay of Nigeria’s military chiefs in office, President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday relieved the officials of their positions.
Presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, said in a statement, Tuesday, that Mr Buhari “accepted the immediate resignation of the Service Chiefs, and their retirement from service.”
The four men – Gabriel Olonisakin, a general and Chief of Defence Staff; Tukur Buratai; a lieutenant general and chief of army staff; Abubakar Sadique, an air marshal and chief of air staff, and Ibok Ibas, a vice admiral and chief of naval staff – were supposed to have retired over two years ago based on their years of service.
But President Buhari kept them in office even as the security situation across the country worsened with bandits wreaking havoc in the North-west and North-central states, the Boko Haram carrying out attacks in the North-east and kidnapping becoming the norm in several states across Nigeria.
As the security situation got worse and more Nigerians called for the replacement of the service chiefs, Mr Buhari stuck to his guns, insisting they were doing their best and did not deserve to be replaced.
Even when he finally relieved them of their positions on Tuesday, the president praised the officials for their “overwhelming achievements in our efforts at bringing enduring peace to our dear country.”
President Buhari’s claim of “overwhelming achievements’ by the outgone military chiefs not only contradicts the perception of many Nigerians but also contradicts the position of the National Assembly dominated by members of the president’s party, APC.
At least on three different occasions, the National Assembly called for the sack of the service chiefs based on the worsening security situation. On each occasion, the president ignored the lawmakers and retained the Olonisakin-led service chiefs who were appointed on July 13, 2015, after President Buhari assumed office.
In his statement, Mr Adesina announced that the president appointed Leo Irabor, a major general, as the Chief of Defence Staff.
Mr Irabor formerly led Nigeria’s war against Boko Haram as the Theatre Commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole.
Ibrahim Attahiru, also a major general, was named the new Chief of Army Staff. Like Mr Irabor, Mr Attahiru had also led the war against Boko Haram.
The president also appointed A.Z. Gambo, a rear admiral, as Chief of Naval Staff and Isiaka Amao, an air vice marshal, as Chief of Air Staff.
“The President congratulates the new Service Chiefs, and urges them to be loyal and dedicated in the discharge of their responsibilities,” Mr Adesina said.
Just In: Chelsea Fire Manager Frank Lampard
Chelsea announced on Monday they had sacked manager Frank Lampard after a poor run in the Premier League.
“This was a very difficult decision for the club, not least because I have an excellent personal relationship with Frank and I have the utmost respect for him,” said owner Roman Abramovich.
Chelsea are struggling in ninth place in the Premier League table, 11 points behind leaders Manchester United.
They have lost five of their past eight Premier League matches after a good start to the season.
Former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel in line to take over, reports said.
Eagles Captain, Ahmed Musa Set to Join West Brom
Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa is set to join Premier League club West Bromwich Albion on a short term deal.
The 28-year-old has been unattached since quitting Al Nassr in October 2020.
According to Daily Mail, the Baggies have requested a visa for the winger and have also scheduled him for a medical on Wednesday.
Capped 95 times by Nigeria, Musa’s career has stalled since he left CSKA Moscow in 2016. Having scored 55 goals in 167 appearances for the Russians, he joined Leicester City in the summer of that year.
Things did not work out at the King Power Stadium, as the African made just seven league starts in 21 outings.
He joined after the Foxes had claimed the Premier League title and hoped to be part of something special with the club.
But he was loaned back to CSKA for the second half of the 2017/18 campaign.
He was then sold to Al Nassr in January 2019 and played 62 times in all competitions before being released.