- Conclude plans to revitalise BRACED Commission
Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Governors of the six states of the South-south geo-political zone Thursday in Asaba agreed to constitute a common security outfit as an answer to the nagging security challenges in the country and the region in particular.
This formed the highpoint of the meeting of the Forum of South-South Governors held at the Government House, Asaba and presided over by its new chairman, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa.
Okowa succeeded the immediate past governor of Bayelsa State, Hon. Seriake Dickson, whose chairmanship of forum lapsed with his tenure last month.
Other state governors, who attended thursday’s meeting in Asaba, were Mr. Godwin Obaseki (Edo State), Chief Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Senator Douye Diri (Bayelsa), and Mr. Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom).
Okowa explained that the Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, was absent because he was held up at an official assignment in Abuja.
The Delta State governor, while addressing newsmen at the end of the meeting that lasted about two-and-a-half hours, said the meeting deliberated on several burning issues and took far-reaching decisions.
Okowa said: “We also took the issue on security, and we have agreed as a region that there is the need to have a regional security outfit. And, we have mandated the BRACED Commission to begin to work out the details and to brief us at our next meeting in Port Harcourt.”
Aside the decision to form a regional security outfit, Okowa said the forum agreed to revitalize the BRACED Commission, which is the economic think-thank of the six states comprising Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta.
The forum agreed to rejig the BRACED Commission formed about 10 years ago but which has remained practically dormant in the last five years.
The Director-General of the BRACED Commission, Ambassador Joe Keshi, who attended the governors’ forum meeting, was charged with the responsibility to prepare a working document for the various resolutions reached by the forum.
Nevertheless, the governors would reconvene in Port-Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, where the details of the proposed South-south regional security body, the blueprint for the revitalization of the BRACED Commission, as well as the need to reconstitute the controversial board of the Niger-Delta Development Commission (NDDC) would be discussed and fine-tuned.
Moreover, the respective commissioners of health of the six-member states are to immediately constitute regional machinery for combating Lassa Fever as well as Coronavirus in the unlikely event of the disease spreading to the region.
However, Okowa noted that there was as yet no case of the dreaded coronavirus in any of six South-south states, even as he said the respective states would leave nothing to chance regarding the COVID-19 outbreak from China.
Nonetheless, the forum demanded the reconstitution of the NDDC Board such that the 13 per cent derivation fund from the Federation Account would be deducted in respect of the oil producing areas.