Governors of the 17 states in southern Nigeria rose from their meeting on Monday with resolutions that touched on burning national issues.
From setting a date to commence the ban on open grazing to their disapproval of “selective” arrests, each of the resolutions reached after the meeting in Lagos represented the interests of the governors.
The Southern Governors’ Forum, in a communique signed by Rotimi Akeredolu, its chairman, also reaffirmed its position on zoning the 2023 presidency to the south and the newly passed petroleum industry bill (PIB).
Below are highlights from the meeting.
‘NO SECURITY OPERATION IN ANY STATE WITHOUT GOVERNOR’S KNOWLEDGE’
The governors re-emphasised the need for state police and resolved that henceforth, “if for any reason security institutions need to undertake an operation in any State, the Chief Security Officer of the State must be duly informed”.
The resolution addresses recent developments in Oyo state where the house of Sunday Adeyemo, a youth leader better known as Sunday Igboho, was raided by security agencies.
The raid, carried out by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS), is believed to have been done without the knowledge of Seyi Makinde, the state governor.
NO TO ‘SELECTIVE CRIMINAL ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE’
At a time when the Muhammadu Buhari administration is facing criticisms over the secrecy surrounding the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu, Biafra separatist leader, and the raid on Igboho’s house, the governors maintained that arrests must follow the rule of law.
“The forum frowns at selective criminal administration of Justice and resolved that arrests should be made within the ambit of the Law and fundamental human rights,” the communique read.
The arrest of Kanu and the manhunt for Igboho have also been criticised by Igbo and Yoruba leaders respectively. They accused the federal government of not adopting similar measures in clamping down on bandits and Boko Haram insurgents.
‘NO TO 3 PERCENT SHARE FOR HOST COMMUNITIES IN PIB’
The views of Ifeanyi Okowa, governor of Delta state, and his counterparts in the Niger Delta region were re-echoed in the communique’s resolutions on the PIB.
The content of the bill, which seeks to provide guidance and fiscal framework for the oil and gas industry, has caused an uproar following agitations from many groups including the host communities who, like the governors, are kicking against the allocation of 3 percent operating expenditure of oil firms to host communities.
Although five percent was initially proposed, the joint senate committee that worked on the bill recommended three percent after meeting with some government officials including Timipre Sylva, minister of state for petroleum resources.
The southern governors have also insisted on five percent, and further rejected the proposed 30 percent of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) profit for the exploration of oil and gas in the basins.
‘POWER SHIFT TO THE SOUTH’
The forum said it remains committed to the “politics of equity and fairness”, and, as a result, resolved that “the next president of Nigeria should emerge from the Southern Region”.
It said this was in line with the principle of separation of power, in which the presidential position typically rotates between southern and northern Nigeria as is usually the case since the current democratic dispensation started in 1999.
While he is yet to express his interest in running, Bola Tinubu, an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, is one of those already being put forward to emerge as president in 2023.
Kayode Fayemi, governor of Ekiti, and Seyi Makinde of Oyo have also been rumoured to have an interest in the presidential race.
‘OPEN GRAZING TAKES EFFECT ON SEPTEMBER 1’
Despite the clash with the presidency over its earlier resolve to ban open grazing in southern Nigeria, the forum appears set to go ahead with its plans.
The governors said they have resolved to set a timeline of September 1, 2021, “for the promulgation of the anti-open grazing law in all member States”.
Most of the governors have battled with incessant farmer-herder clashes in their states and they now seem determined to solve the challenge.
‘ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION OF RESULTS A MUST’
The governors did not mince words in rejecting the decision of the national assembly leadership to expunge sections that provide for electronic transmission of election results from the electoral act amendment bill.
TheCable had exclusively reported how the lawmakers are set to pass the bill with no room for electronic transmission of results despite calls for such a reform in Nigeria’s electoral process.
“In order to consolidate our democracy and strengthen the Electoral process, the Southern Governors’ Forum rejects the removal of the Electronic transmission of the election result from the electoral act,” the communique read