Eniola Akinkuotu, Victor Ayeni, Raphael Ede and Godwin Isenyo
6 July 2021
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• Govs fault removal of electronic transmission of election results from Electoral Act
• PIB passage: Forum rejects three per cent for host communities in strong terms
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has urged the Southern Governors Forum to zone the 2023 Presidency to the South-East in the interest of fair play and justice.
Spokesman for the Ohanaeze, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, who said the group, backed the southern governors’ position that the region should produce the President in 2023, said the region must be magnanimous in conceding to South-East the Presidency.
The governors had met on Monday in Ikeja, Lagos State on the state of the nation.
The meeting came eight weeks after their last meeting in May 11, 2021, in Asaba, Delta State, where they banned open grazing and advocated restructuring, among others.
On Monday, the governors declared support for rotational presidency, saying the next President should come from the South.
Rising from the meeting, chairman of Southern Governors’ Forum and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, read the communiqué agreed to by the member state.
He said, “The forum reaffirms its commitment to the unity of Nigeria on the pillars of equity, fairness, justice, progress and peaceful coexistence between and amongst its people.
“The forum reiterates its commitment to the politics of equity, fairness and unanimously agreed that the Presidency of Nigeria be rotated between southern and northern Nigeria and resolved that the next president of Nigeria should emerge from the south.”
Regarding security, southern governors Akeredolu said, “The forum reviewed the security situation in the country and commended the security operatives for their relentless efforts in restoring security and safety. We commiserate with families and loved ones who have fallen in the line of duty. The forum re-emphasise the need for state police. The forum resolves that if, for any reason, security institutions need to undertake an operation in any state, the state chief security officer must be duly informed.
“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 forum sets a timeline of Wednesday, September 1, 2021, for the promulgation of the anti open-grazing law in all its member states and resolves that funds deducted from the federation account for the Nigerian Police Security Trust Fund should be distributed among the states and Federal Government to combat security challenges.”
The governors faulted the proposed shares from oil and gas revenue as spelt out by the Petroleum Industry Bill which was recently passed by the National Assembly.
“The forum commends the National Assembly for the progress made in the passage of the PIB; the forum however rejects in very strong terms, the proposed three per cent for host communities by the Senate and support five per cent share of the oil revenue to the host communities as recommended by the House of Representative.
“The forum also rejects the proposed 30 per cent share of profit for the exploration of oil and gas in the basins. The forum rejects the ownership structure of the proposed Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation limited and disagree that the company is vested in the Federal Ministry of Finance. The forum proposed that the company should be held in trust by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority since all tiers of government have stake in that vehicle.”
The governors also faulted the removal or electronic transmission of election results from the Electoral Act and the exclusive jurisdiction wielded by the Federal High Court.
“In order to consolidate our democracy and strengthen electoral process, the Southern Governors Forum rejects the removal of electronic transmission of election results from the proposed Electoral Act and reject the confirmation of exclusive jurisdiction in pre-election matters on the Federal High Court,” they stated.
The forum announced that Lagos State would be its permanent secretariat.
Other governors who attended the meeting are Babajide Sanwo-Olu Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Nyensom Wike (Rivers), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Emmanuel Udom (Akwa Ibom), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Douye Diri (Bayelsa), Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu).
Deputy Governors who represented their principals are Philip Shuaibu (Edo), Placid Njokwu (Imo), Ude Oko Chukwu (Abia) and Kelechi Igwe (Ebonyi).
Governors of Cross River and Anambra states, Prof. Ben Ayade and Willie Obiano, were absent.
Ohanaeze seeks concession for S’East
Meanwhile, Ohanaeze Ndigbo spokesman, Ogbonnia, commended the governors, saying, The truth is that there have been a gentleman agreement between rotation or alternation of the Presidency between the North and the South.
“However, in commending the southern governors for that resolution, Ohanaeze is urging them to be magnanimous in conceding to South-East the Presidency. The South-West had a shot the South-South had a shot; and in each occasion the Igbo gave them total support.
“So justice, equity and fairness will demand that they concede the Presidency to the South-East. So in thanking them, we are going step ahead to urge them to consider the South East to have a shot at the Presidency.
On open grazing, he said the September deadline was a welcome development, adding, “Ohanaeze will also urge the South East Governors to follow it up with action.”
Afenifere hails decision, insists on restructuring
Meanwhile, the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, says the demand by southern governors for the South to produce the next President in 2023 is a welcome development.
Afenifere, however, said its immediate priority is restructuring and not the 2023 polls.
The leader of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said this during a chat with The PUNCH on Monday.
When asked if his group believes that the South should produce the next President, Adebanjo said, “I support it 100 per cent.”
But when asked if Afenifere would be pressing for a South-West President, the 93-year-old statesman said, “We are not supporting any election until Nigeria is restructured.
We are not going to support any Presidential candidate under this constitution. We must change this constitution first.”
On why Afenifere was not taking part in the current constitutional amendment handled by the National Assembly, Adebanjo said, “They are beneficiaries of fraud. The 9th Assembly is part of the problem so how can they solve it? You can see how the National Assembly messed up the amendment of the Electoral Act. Are they the ones you expect to bring change?”
South can ask for Presidency
Also the pan-Northern socio-political organization, Arewa Consultative Forum, said on Monday that there was nothing wrong asking for that presidency from their region.
The National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Mr Emmanuel Yawe, told one of our correspondents in a chat in Kaduna that the Nigeria’s constitution granted Nigerians the rights to speech, freedom as well as freedom to vote.
The ACF’s spokesman said, “The Nigerian governors from North and South have been acting as pressure groups since 1999 when democracy returned.
“The constitution grants them the freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom to vote their preferred candidates.”
Earlier, Yawe spoke to another correspondent saying, “When a candidate emerges on the platform of a party, we will then interact with that candidate and find out from him what plans he has for the north. But we cannot say a political party must choose a candidate from North or South.”