As the South South Governors converge on Port Harcourt, the River State capital, for a crucial meeting, an advocate of true fiscal federalism and University don, Prof. Gabriel Godini Darah has advised that they must be united in defence of the collective interest of the region irrespective of political affiliations.
Prof. Darah who spoke to The New Diplomat in an exclusive chat, on the heels of the Governors meeting scheduled for tomorrow in Port Harcourt, noted that the South South region is in the forefront of the clamour for political restructuring and fiscal federalism, adding that the struggle for state control of Value Added Tax, (VAT) legislation against open grazing and regional security outfits should form the agenda of the Port Harcourt meeting tomorrow.
“The governors of the South South should be united in defence of the collective interest of region. Party affiliation should not be an excuse to betray and sabotage the demands of the people.
“The South South is in the forefront position on the clamour for political restructuring and fiscal federalism such as VAT, legislation against open grazing, regional security outfits,” Darah advised.
Speaking further, the resource control advocate, also advised the South South governors to give priority to the demand for the inauguration of the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, which has already been screened by the Senate, describing the imposition of a sole administrator in the Commission as an aberration.
He also reminded the governors on the need to press for an increase from the 3% to at least 5% of the Host Community Trust Fund of the recently enacted Petroleum Industry Act, PIA.
He said: “South South region is united in the demand for the inauguration of the NDDC Board which had already been screened by the Senate to end the aberration of Sole Administrator.
“The people of the region demand an increase from 3% to at least 5% of Host Community Trust Fund of PIA.”
A source very close to the South South governors forum, however told The New Diplomat that the group will also place priority on the controversial issue of the zoning of the 2023 presidency to the South or North.
“The South-South governors will discuss the issue of the 2023 presidential election. You know from the unfolding political developments, the presidency may come to the southern part of the country in the next dispensation”, the source disclosed.
Meanwhile, the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, has declared its support for the next president of the country to come from the Southern part of Nigeria.
According to Prof. Darah who is also a member of the Niger Delta group, “the PANDEF is unequivocal in its support for the 2023 slot of President to be from Southern part of the country. It is an important aspect of the principle of equity and justice.”
As at the time of filing this report, the South South governors have started arriving the City of Port Harcourt for tomorrow’s scheduled meeting.