By Luka Binniyat
Northern Governors, from all indications, are set for a Sovereign National Conference, SNC, should the clamour become realistic. As far as they are concerned, the present revenue sharing regime leaves their states far worse than it ought to and, as such, feel no qualms about a SNC, even if it were to address that issue. Though they met in Kaduna last Thursday, the SNC, was not tabled on the agenda.
However, the Chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF), Dr. Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, informed correspondents at the end of the 7 hour close-door session in Kaduna last Thursday that the Forum was not afraid of a SNC.
“We are ready anytime they want to convene the Sovereign National Conference. We in the North have suffered our own share of injustice. All we are saying is that, both Northerners and Southerners should let us know what would be deliberated upon, so that we as a Forum will make our position known.
“But we did not deliberate on it in this meeting, because, as far as we are concerned, it is something that is still being thought over. Anytime there would be one, we are not going to get intimidated about it.
“Northern governors have limited things to do compared to their counterpart in the south because of the revenue formula. That is why we are advocating for the review of the revenue formula. We need to attach as much emphasis on sharing formula of the national resources as much as the injustice that has been done on it, and we will not be intimidated.
“I will continue to attack the derivation formula because even during independence there was principle of derivation and we’ve been making that statement and some people tend to miss-read it. And till tomorrow, I will continue to talk about the oil wells that are there in the ocean 200 miles away, those wells do not belong to any state.
“There was a court judgment in that regard and we did not understand why the National Assembly passed a law that seem to undermine it. The president at that time, Obasanjo, refused to sign that into law, but and the Senate overruled him.
“Everyone should know that there was a court judgment on the deep offshore oil wells but later, the National Assembly signed another thing into law. Which one will I believe in? That is all we are asking for because we know that without equity there will be no peace,” Aliyu added.
Below is part of the communiqué issued at the end of the meeting. Sultan, World Bank in attendance. “The meeting was addressed by the Chairman of the Northern Traditional Rulers’ Council, His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar CFR, who recounted the unprecedented challenges, especially in the North, in terms of rising trend of insecurity which has deprived democratic liberty, freedom and economic prosperity in the region.“His Eminence expressed the resolve and readiness of the Northern Traditional Rulers’ Council to collaborate with the Northern State Governors, who should be the mouth piece of the North to restore enduring peace and harmonious co-existence and development in the region for the benefit of all.
After extensive deliberations, the Forum took fundamental decisions on the following issues: “The Forum was briefed by officials of the World Bank, DFID and other Development Partners on the need to facilitate the development of critical sectors in the North such as Health, Education, Social Protection, Water and Agriculture, Commerce and Public Financial Reform.
“The officials highlighted their new approach in partnering with States through knowledge sharing and direct budget support to those States that are committed to Public Financial Management and service delivery. The Forum, after in-depth deliberation, constituted 2 separate Committees of three Governors each with a view to approaching the National Assembly and the Federal Ministry of Finance for more consultations on the matter in order to benefit from the Programmes of the Development Partners.
The Forum received brief from National Primary Health Development Agency on the prevalence of wild polio virus in the Northern State. The Forum extensively deliberated on the issue and resolved as follows: “The Forum commended the Federal Government for additional funds for eradication of Polio; To strengthen the State Task Force on Polio Eradication in each member State by making it more functional; to sustain the quarterly interaction of Northern States Governors with their Traditional Rulers; to prevail on Local Government Chairmen in the Northern States to continue to support Polio Programmes particularly through sustained enlightenment campaigns.
“The Forum extensively deliberated on the alarming rate of insecurity in the Northern States.
It noted that the region needs an integrated approach towards tackling these unfortunate new realities. The Forum, after extensive deliberations resolved as follows:
“Constituted a Committee to monitor the Implementation of the Federal Government White Paper on Security Challenges in North East Zone. Membership of the Committee includes Their Excellencies, Executive Governors of Borno, Yobe, Zamfara, Adamawa and Plateau States; to adopt a pragmatic, holistic and integrated regional approach to combating crime through collective effort of all Security Agencies; to adopt common policies and programmes, build confidence among the people to promote economic prosperity in the North”
“Northern Nigeria being predominantly agrarian in nature, the Forum resolved to develop a lasting and sustainable source of income from Agriculture, and its allied activities. This endeavour is aimed at providing gainful employment to youth and reducing social tension which would lead to more peace, security and harmonious prosperity.
“In order to actualize this objective, a Committee, chaired by His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Katsina State and with their Excellencies, the Executive Governors of Sokoto, Borno, Adamawa, Kwara, Plateau, Kaduna and Taraba States, as members was constituted to proffer recommendations on means of improving agricultural production, storage, processing and access to Local and International Markets and other allied activities”
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