Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio
By Kunle Aderinokun and Victor Efeizomor
The South-south geo-political zone has called for a reduction in the powers and operations of the federal government in order to make the centre less attractive and give more room for the government to focus on security.
The six governors from the zone also called for the diversification of the nation’s economy rather than relying almost entirely on revenue from oil production.
They made these calls yesterday in Asaba, the Delta State capital, at the second edition of the South-south Economic Summit convened by the BRACED Commission, an acronym for Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta.
Akwa Ibom State Governor Godswill Akpabio, who spoke on behalf of the governors, said: “The system we have now has a structural defect: we have too much agencies. The federal government must unbundle the agencies and focus on development.”
He argued: “If the centre is too attractive, we will continue to have the malaise that we have been having since the past 50 years,” adding that we must unbundle the federal government and have revenue formula that gives more money to the states and the local governments. The Federal government must lessen its weight; it must remove itself from what can be done by the state and local government and focus on development.”
Akpabio challenged the federal government to resolve the issue of insecurity in the country, especially the menace of the Boko Haram sect, saying “if there was bombing in London and it was brought to an end; if there was 9/11 in the US and it was brought to an end, we will like to see Boko Haram brought to an end in six months.”
Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, lamented the nation’s electoral system, saying if the electoral processes were transparent, politicians would not force their way into office.
He added that when elective positions become a do- or-die affair, where all manners of fraudulent acts were perpetrated to win elections, it had the tendency to breed crimes and criminals.
“We must resolve to allow the people’s will to prevail; we must revisit the issue of job insecurity, we must put more efforts to create jobs because job insecurity will lead to other forms of insecurity,” he said.
The National Security Adviser, General Owoye Azazi (rtd), described security as good governance and public safety, pointing out that investment could only thrive in a safe environment.
Azazi blamed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) partly for the security challenges the country is facing at present because of the party’s zoning policy.
Azazi, who spoke on the theme “Conversations on Terrorism and Securing the Gulf of Guinea”, said PDP unwittingly created the security problem being faced today from the onset by saying that “Mr. A can rule, but Mr. B cannot rule.”
He said the issue of zoning heated up the polity and engendered the air of security threats facing Nigeria today.
Disclosing that PDP members were not usually comfortable with his frank opinion on the issue, Azazi said unless those fundamental political issues were addressed, it would be difficult to get to the root of the security challenges.
Boko Haram, according to him, was not a religious crisis, but an economic problem.
He therefore advised that to alleviate the problem, there was the need for economic empowerment and human capital development.
Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy and Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala, who painted a gloomy picture of the global economy and measures the international communities were putting in place to tackle economic downturn said the global recession had its effects on developing countries like Nigeria.
She stressed that Nigerian economy needs to be diversified rather than relying more on revenue from oil.
Minister of agriculture, Mr. Akinwunmi Adesina, disclosed that the federal government has launched a transformation programme to transform the agricultural sector .
He added that the government has also concluded plans to build 13 large-scale rice milling plant in the South-south zone.
This, amongst others, was necessary, he said, because the $1 billion Nigeria spent on rice yearly could not be sustained.