By Jonathan Ugbal
Governor Benedict Ayade of Cross River and his Anambra State counterpart, Willie Obiano were absent from a meeting of Southern Nigeria Governors Forum held at Lagos State on Monday where the Governors resolved on several topical issues in the country.
This is the third time in less than two months Mr. Ayade failed to attend the SNGF meeting where issues affecting the State he governs were discussed.
Ayade had failed to attend 3 meetings of his colleagues within 20 days earlier this year, including the last two meetings of the forum held in May – a virtual one on May 4th and a Physical one on May 11th in Asaba, Delta State.
11 Governors and three Deputy Governors were in attendance with Cross River and Anambra not having any representatives.
The Governors present were Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom; Douye Diri of Bayelsa; Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State; Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu; Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State; Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State; Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State; the Chairman, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State; Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State; Seyi Makinde of Oyo State and Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.
The Deputies representing their Governor’s were Oko Chukwu of Abia State; Kelechi Igwe of Ebonyi State; Philip Shuaibu of Edo State and Placid Njokwu of Imo State.
The SNGF resolved that the next President of the Country should emerge from the southern part of the country.
It asked for Governors to be informed before any special operational activity of the security agencies is carried out, called for State Police and frowned at selective administration of the criminal justice system which rights activists have accused Governor Ayade of.
It also set September 1, 2021 as timeline for the promulgation of anti-grazing laws in all southern States. Mr. Ayade had said he will import king grass that will solve the farmer-herder crisis.
On the Petroleum Industry Bill, the Governors adopted the 5% of actual annual operational expenditure of settlor’s to fund Host Communities Trusts and kicked against the provision of 30% share of profit for frontier exploration.
Read the full communique below…
COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED BY SOUTHERN GOVERNORS:
THE MEETING OF THE GOVERNORS OF SOUTHERN NIGERIA AT THE LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT HOUSE, IKEJA, LAGOS STATE, ON MONDAY, 5TH JULY, 2021 NIGERIA.
The Southern Governors Forum at the end of the meeting held on Monday, 5th July 2021 reviewed the situation in the Country and focused on the current security situation, constitutional amendment, Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Rising from the meeting, the Forum agreed on the following:
1. Re-affirmed their commitment to the unity of Nigeria on the pillars of equity, fairness, justice, progress and peaceful co-existence between and amongst its people.
2. The Forum reiterates its commitment to the politics of equity, fairness and unanimously agrees that the presidency of Nigeria be rotated between Southern and Northern Nigeria and resolved that the next president of Nigeria should emerge from the Southern Region.
a. The Forum reviewed the security situation in the country and commends security operatives for their relentless efforts in restoring security and safety and commiserates with families and loved ones of those who have fallen in the line of duty;
b. Re-emphasised the need for State Police;
c. Resolved that 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;
d. 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;
e. Set a timeline of Wednesday, 1st September 2021 for the promulgation of the anti-open grazing law in all Member States; and
f. Resolved that Funds deducted from the Federation Account for the Nigeria Police Security Trust Fund should be distributed among the States and Federal Government to combat security challenges.
4. Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) Law:
i. The Forum commends the National Assembly for the progress made in the passage of the PIB;
ii. the Forum rejects the proposed 3% and support the 5% share of the oil revenue to the host community as recommended by the House of Representatives;
iii. the forum also rejects the proposed 30% share of profit for the exploration of oil and gas in the basins:
iv. However, the forum rejects the ownership structure of the proposed Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC). The Forum disagrees that the company be vested in the Federal Ministry of Finance but should be held in trust by Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) since all tiers of Government have stakes in that vehicle.
5. 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; and also rejects the confirmation of exclusive jurisdiction in pre-election matters on the Federal High Court.
6. The Forum unanimously chose Lagos State as its permanent secretariat and appreciated the Governor of Lagos State for the wonderful hosting of this meeting while commending him for his good work in the State.
Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu SAN
Governor, Ondo State and Chairman, Southern Governors’ Forum
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