Governors of the South South geopolitical zone have called on the President Muhammedu Buhari-led Federal Government to immediately withdraw the proposed Water Resources Management bill before the National Assembly.
The governors said that the provisions of the bill are offensive and obnoxious, expressing disagreement over the federal government moves to centralized control of water resources in the country.
The governors spoke in Port Harcourt, Rivers State under the aegis of South South Governors Forum after its meeting Wednesday night.
In attendance was Governor of Delta state, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, Bayelsa State Governor and Chairman of the Forum, Rt Hon Seriake Dickson, Rivers State Governor and host to the meeting, Nyesom Wike, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel and the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Rt Hon Philip Shaibu.
Addressing newsmen after the meeting, Governor Dickson said that the forum have agreed that the bill should be immediately withdrawn by the Federal Government and further consultations be made on it.
“We also agreed that the bill currently making the 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.
“We disagree with the centralized control of water resources as we are already dealing with the problem associated with over centralization of our country and we have agreed that the bill should be immediately withdrawn by the Federal Government and further consultations be made on that.
“Because of the nature of the discussions we have had, we also invited the Attorney-Generals of the respective states to be in attendance and we had very fruitful deliberations touching on critical national issues that affect the wellbeing and welfare not just of our country, but principally, the life of people of this zone.”
The Governors however demanded 13 Per Cent Of $1 Billion Security Fund ordered to be released by the federal government saying “while we are not against the withdrawal of $1 billion dollars from the Excess Crude Account by the Federal Government for national security, we believe that such should be done by adhering strictly to constitutional provisions of paying 13 per cent derivation.
“We took the collective view about the efforts of the Federal Government to withdraw $1 billion dollars for national security expenditures.
“Our position in this zone is that in line with the constitutional provisions of derivation, while we have no objections to the Federal Government spending money on national security including the security of this zone, we believe that the constitutional provisions of 13 per cent derivation must be applied and fully respected and we will communicate that to the appropriate authorities so that whatever amount that is withdrawn from the Excess Crude Account, being proceed of crude oil sale is subject to the 13 percent principle enshrined in the constitution.”
The governors who had far-reaching decisions that will be of benefits to the people of South-South region, however thrown their weight behind restructuring and devolution of power, saying such will lead to a more peaceful and prosperous nation.
Dickson said, “everyone 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, true federalism and devolution of powers that are so concentrated at the centre to the federating units.
“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.”
Story by Julius Eras-Olabowu