â€¢ Reject executive bill to control waterways
Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Governors from the South-south region have demanded that the federal government pay them 13 per cent derivation for the $1billion withdrawn from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to fight insurgency in the country.
The governors, under the aegis of the South-south Governorsâ€™ Forum, took the decision in an emergency meeting in Port Harcourt wednesday.
In a communiquÃ© read by the forumâ€™s Chairman and Governor of Bayelsa State, Henry Seriake Dickson, after the meeting, the governors also expressed their opposition to the Executive Bill forwarded to the National Assembly, wherein the federal government seeks to control the management of waterways.
â€œThe forum condemns the bills and calls on the federal government to embark on further consultations on the bill in order to get the buy-in of Nigerians,â€ the governors advised.
The forum expressed the support of the governors for the clamour for restructuring, fiscal federalism, devolution of powers from the centre to the federating units.
â€œThe governors said for Nigeria to be stable, peaceful and prosperous, it should be restructured.
They vowed to work with like minds to make it a reality.
There have been growing agitation in the region for the federal government to also withdraw funds from the ECA to fight environmental problems in the South-south, and also opposition to the water way bill which the people believe is another way to get grazing reserves in the region.
Seriake said: â€œWe took the collective view that with respect to the federal governmentâ€™s effort to withdraw $1billion for national security, our position in this zone is in line with the constitutional provision on derivation.
â€œWhile we have no objection to the federal government spending money on security, including security of this zone, we believe the constitutional provision on 13 per cent derivation be applied and fully respected.
â€œWe will communicate that to the appropriate authorities so that whatever amount that is withdrawn from the ECA being proceed of crude oil sale is subject to the 13 per cent principle enshrined in the constitution.
â€œWe also agreed that the bill currently making rounds in the National Assembly which we understand is an executive bill on management of water resources. We are of the view that the provisions of the bill are offensive and obnoxious.
â€œWe disagree with the centralised control of water resources as we are already dealing with the problem associated with over centralisation of our country and we have agreed that the bill should be immediately withdrawn by the federal government and further consultations be made on that.
â€œEveryone is aware of the ongoing clamour for devolution and a return to essential founding principle of this great country. And we in our meeting resolved as we have been speaking over sometime that we associate fully with the clamour for restructuring, for the clamour for true federalism and for the clamour for devolution of powers that are so concentrated at the centre to the federating units and we have agreed to support ongoing moves in that direction by working with like-minded Nigerians who mean well for the country so that we can all have a stable and prosperous and peaceful nation,â€ they said.