Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum and Niger State Governor, Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu
By Aisha Wakaso
The chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum and Niger State Governor, Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu, Friday stated that northern governors "cannot be blackmailed or intimidated by any group over its position on the Petroleum Industry Bill and state police."
The Northern governors have of recent expressed reservations about some aspects of the PIB and the agitation for state police by a section of the country.
Aliyu, who spoke when he received traditional rulers from the state who paid him Sallah homage at his residence in Minna, also said the issue of on-shore off-shore dichotomy in the distribution of oil revenue was yet to be settled "as some Nigerians are trying to make people believe."
The NGF’s Chairman added that if Nigerians could discuss the amendment of the constitution "which is the supreme law guiding the country, then there is nothing stopping the people from dialoguing on the issue of the on-shore off-shore law so that all parts of the country will be satisfied that the right thing is being done.
"In the PIB, we noticed that there were many things that will affect our people and we need to discuss it. We need to understand how to approach our members in the national and state assemblies when issues like that come up. We need to discuss it so that the interest of our people who elected us will be protected."
Aliyu said a committee had been set up by the NGF to get different views on the PIB so that it will shape whatever decision the forum will take concerning it.
The committee to study the PIB is headed by Alhaji Monsure Ahmed and has 90 days to submit its report.
Another panel constituted about two weeks ago and comprising the Attorneys-General and Commissioners of Justice of the 19 states in the zone is also expected to make recommendations with regard to the review of the 1999 Constitution. Its task also includes formulating a common premise for the zone’s engagements on the onshore-ofshore oil dichotomy.
But the Presidency has called for caution on the clamour for the re-opening of debate over the onshore-offshore abrogation law which was enacted by the National Asembly in 2004. A statement issued by Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, read: “Some of the pronouncements are disruptive, outright mischievous, and aimed at causing disaffection.
“The Presidency strongly advises such politicians to desist from playing up sectional and ethnic sentiments over a matter that was addressed eight years ago to the benefit of all parties concerned.”
On state police, Aliyu said, "until there is a superior argument to warrant its creation" the Northern Governors Forum will continue to oppose it.
“At the moment, we do not see why it (creation of state police) should happen. We know how in those days, the regional police were used to stop other people from enjoying their fundamental right."
He disclosed that the NGF had given powers to the peace committee it recently set up to discuss with all those with grievances, "including Boko Haram leaders and advice the forum on the best way to ensure security in the region and in the entire country".
Last Thursday, a meeting convened with the aim of harmonizing the thirty-six states governors’ positions on state police and the onshore-offshore dichotomy ended without a consensus. That meeting was preceded by another held by 19 governors from the North. The meeting chaired by Aliyu highlighted the dire economic situation in the region, citing the prevailing insecurity as a major reason.
The chairman of the State Council of Traditional Rulers and the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar commended the state government for the giant strides it had taken in the development of the state
Alhaji Abubakar also expressed gratitude to the federal and state government for the steps taken to ensure safety of lives and property and urged the people to co-operate with the governments for the sustenance of peace.
Among the traditional rulers that paid the Sallah homage to Aliyu were the emir of Minna, Dr Umar Farouq Bahago; that of Kontagora Alhaji Saidu Namaska; Mai Borgu, Senator Haliru Dantoro; Emir of Kagara, Alhaji Salihu Tanko, and Mallam Awwal Ibrahim of Suleja.