Monday, August 28, 2017 12:35 pm
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Governors of the South-South and South East States have urged the Federal Government to encourage investors in the oil and gas industry to operate from and invest in the two regions.
In a communiqué at the end of the second meeting of the South-East/South-South Governors Forum at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Sunday, the governors agreed to promote the unity of the country.
The communique signed by the interim chairman of the Forum, Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom on behalf of the Governors stated that the forum resolved: “To pursue inter-regional cooperation and integration for the common good of the regions’ people.
“To work together politically, align and re-align as a people that share common heritage, culture and affinity. To articulate and advocate for issues affecting the wellbeing of the regions. The issues may not necessarily materialize immediately, but for the benefits of future generations.”
The South-East/South-South Governors also resolved: “To continue to subscribe our faith to the destiny and greatness of Nigeria and call upon Nigerians to put their hands on the plough and rise to claim our rightful place in the Comity of Nations.
“To condemn hate speech in national discourse whether in individual communication, or utterances of political actors or parties. To urge security agencies to set up joint border patrols and develop more proactive strategies in combating crime and criminality.
“To urge the Federal Government to come up with a clear policy on concession of Federal roads and to fast-track the process in order to ameliorate the sufferings of the people of the regions.”
They further resolved to pursue inter-regional cooperation and integration for the common good of the regions’ people.
The forum however regretted that: “The deplorable state of federal roads in the two regions. That none of the airports and seaports located in our regions is reasonably functional, and that neither of the two regions are linked by any rail services. That the Federal presence in the regions is very minimal and only noticeable in the presence of policemen.”
Earlier in his welcome address, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike had stated that the people of the two geo-political zones have always shared common heritage and affinity.
He said: “Even in contemporary Nigeria, we still share the same or similar challenges, including insecurity, poverty and under-development despite the best of efforts by the constituent State governments. Today, the two regions are the most politically and economically marginalized within the nation, environmentally degraded and deliberated neglected by the federal government in appointments and provisions of basic development infrastructures.”
The governor noted that none of the airports and seaports located in the regions is reasonably functional, while the few federal roads are not in good shape, neither are the two regions linked by any rail services.
Governor Wike said: “From geo-strategic economic perspective therefore, there is an urgent need to establish and link our cities with railways and super highways; to provide viable and affordable flight services between our cities, and to ensure that cargoes are brought into the country and the regions through our seaports, jetties and ferry services as a veritable means of stimulating economic growth and social progress across our two regions.
“Also, we are all aware that economic growth and social progress are possible only in a peaceful and secure environment. And much as we try to tackle this menace in our respective States by providing the necessary logistic support to the security agencies, perceptions of insecurity are on the rise, doing significant damage to our investment climate thereby preventing reasonable inflow of direct foreign and local investment into the regions.”
He said as neighbours, the two regions must strive to overcome challenges through regional efforts by sharing resources, intelligence and denying sanctuaries to criminal elements in the areas.
According to him: “As we go into the business of this meeting, let us be confident in the rightness of our course and clear in our considerations that we have been and would continue to be worse off without the will to exploit our political and economic complementarities to drive our ways into political, economic and social prosperity.
“Above all, we must continue to demand for the devolution of powers and resources to the states as well as the institutionalization of State Police, now that there is national consensus on these issues.”
Governor Emmanuel also urged the governors of the two regions to form a common front for socio-economic development.
He described the meeting as a new beginning for the two geo-political zones for the good of her people.
The governor expressed delight that the governors have set aside impediments to chart a new direction. He charged the two regions to work together for prosperity.
He said: “Federal presence in the region is minimal and only seen in the presence of policemen”.
He called for the development of an industrial framework that will enhance development. He said the regions are better of united than divided.
He pleaded with Nigerians to continue to strive for the unity of the country.
The Meeting, which was chaired by Mr. Udom Emmanuel, Governor of Akwa Ibom State, had in attendance 7 Governors and 4 Deputy Governors. Other Governors present at the meeting were Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike of Rivers State, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State. Deputy Governors who represented their Governors were Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah, Acting Governor of Bayelsa, Dr. Nkem Okeke, Deputy Governor of Anambra, Philip Shaibu, Deputy Governor of Edo State and Prof. Ivara Esu, Deputy Governor of Cross River State.
The forum will reconvene in Owerri, Imo State on Sunday, the 8th of October, 2017