Okowa Tackles Senate President on Asaba Declaration
Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, said on Saturday that last week’s Asaba Declaration by 17 Southern governors was to give force to the voice of the people on the issues they deliberated upon, especially restructuring, noting that both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had earlier at different fora expressed their support for restructuring.
Reacting to Senate president’s comments on the restructuring stance, Okowa said the resolutions reached by the Southern governors were not to disintegrate Nigeria but to strengthen the country’s unity.
The governor stated this in Asaba, the Delta State capital, at an empowerment programme sponsored by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu.
He said, “Unfortunately, I read in the papers that somebody said we ought not to talk about certain things, being elected people. If the voice of your people has been heard loudly and they have continued to talk, and you’re an elected person but you shy away from giving further voice to their voices, then you ought not to be in the position that you occupy. So, I must thank our people in the House of Reps who have responded to the speech made by their colleagues in the National Assembly.
“As I did say, all the things that we discussed; nothing is against the unity of this country. We reaffirm that as a people, as elected governors, we believe in the unity of our country. But we also went forth to advance the need for certain things to be done in order to give strength to that unity. That cannot be a reason for us to be vilified. Obviously not!”
Okowa further said, “We talked about restructuring, which has been on the table for so long. Both the PDP and APC have endorsed restructuring. Our restructuring is all-inclusive and all-encompassing. We may have different views and approaches to restructuring, but when we sit at a table to dialogue, we will be able to agree on what is best for Nigeria.
“The conversations are obviously needed because if we do not talk and we allow the voices of our people to continue to speak, and the leadership shies away, then we are giving room for further crisis. So, I thought that it was time for other leaders across the country to thank the Southern governors for uniting to give a voice to the conversations because it is only when these conversations come at that level and driven in the interest of the majority of the people that we can have a truly united nation in which there is fairness and equity and trust amongst our people and the leadership.”
The 17 governors had met on Tuesday to discuss urgent national issues and reached some resolutions, which are now referred to as the Asaba Declaration.
The governors, at the end of the meeting, issued a communiqué, demanding the restructuring of the country, a review of revenue allocation formula in favour of the sub-national governments, and banned open grazing across their states, among other things.
The governors also called on the president, Muhammadu Buhari, to convoke a national dialogue to address widespread agitations amongst various groups in the region.
Senate president Ahmed Lawan on Thursday disagreed with the governors on the issue if restructuring, asking them to rather concentrate on working hard to first restructure their states before asking the federal government to do so.
Share your thoughts on the story with Nigerian Sketch in the comments section below.