Press zooms in on Southern Governors demand for southern president in 2023, others

The demand by Southern Governor Forum that Nigeria's next president should be from the southern part of the country dominates…

The demand by Southern Governor Forum that Nigeria’s next president should be from the southern part of the country dominates the headlines of Nigerian newspapers on Tuesday.The Guardian reports that two months after their May 11 meeting in Delta State tagged the ‘Asaba Accord’, the Southern Governors Forum, yesterday, met in Lagos State where it declared that Nigeria’s next president should be from the southern part of the country.

Other far-reaching decisions arrived at as contained in the communiqué released, which was signed by the convener, Ondo State Governor and Chairman, Southern Governors’ Forum, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), include a rejection of the proposed allocation of at least 30 percent of the profit generated by the proposed Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited for the exploration of oil in ‘frontier basins’ as identified by Section 9 of the recently passed Petroleum Industry Bill; setting a timeline of September 1, 2021 for promulgation of the anti-open grazing law in all 17 member states; and asking that security agencies must notify them as chief security officers of their states before they carry out any operation within their domain.

The class of 17 governors in the now famous ‘Lagos Declaration’ unanimously agreed that the presidency of Nigeria be rotated between Southern and Northern Nigeria. The incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari, from the Northern region will complete his two terms of eight years by May 29, 2023.

Specifically, the Southern governors want all the major political parties to field politicians from the South as their presidential candidates as they did in 1999.

Akeredolu, who read the communiqué on behalf of his colleagues, said: “The Southern Governors Forum re-affirm its commitment to the unity of Nigeria on the pillars of equity, fairness, justice, progress and peaceful co-existence between and among its people.

“The Forum reiterates its commitment to the politics of equity, fairness and unanimously agrees that the presidency of Nigeria be rotated between Southern and Northern Nigeria and resolved that the next president of Nigeria should emerge from the Southern Region.”

On the PIB recently passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives, the governors commended the “National Assembly for the progress made in the passage of the PIB, but rejected the proposed three per cent and support the five per cent share of the oil revenue to the host community as recommended by the House of Representatives.”
The newspaper says that Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has stated that it is not criminal or illegal for anyone to express intention to leave any federation. He also condemned as “bizarre” the midnight raid by the Department of State Services (DSS) on the Ibadan residence of Yoruba activist, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, last Thursday.

Soyinka, who spoke during an interview with BBC News Pidgin yesterday, urged the Federal Government to apologise to Igboho.

“How can you place the will for separation as a criminal act? That kind of language doesn’t exist in the Constitution, it doesn’t exist in law. It does not exist in the catalogue of immoralities because it is not an immoral act or position to say that you want to stop being part of an entity or you want to join an entity,” he said.

Soyinka subsequently gave examples of people who left a federation or a union to form or join another state including the Bakassi people of Southern Nigeria who seceded to Cameroun.

On Igboho, he said: “More important for me is the position of the government saying that the ‘existence of weapons’ proved that he (Igboho) was planning war against the state. That position, very loaded statement, was simply deliberate to conflict issues. It was to obscure the fact that Igboho and other people, myself included, have been decrying the loss of lives of law-abiding citizens, farmers especially all over the nation.

“Not just civilians, ex-Minister of Defence, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), told the people, ‘Don’t trust the military anymore, defend yourself’. Some other voices like ministers and governors have made similar statements.”

ThisDay reports that Professor Kingsley Moghalu, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), says that Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution has by placing ownership of natural resources exclusively in the hands of the central government, created a disincentive for economic diversification.

This is because it hampers a regional approach to economic diversification and economic management in what is a supposedly federal state, Moghalu argued.

Moghalu a former flag bearer of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) expressed these views in a keynote speech delivered during the annual conference of the Nigerian Economic Students Association (NESA) in Port Harcourt on Thursday.

Moghalu’s paper, which was titled: “Economic Diversification and the Wealth of Nations: Lessons and the Path Forward for Nigeria, argued for a constitutional restructuring that would devolve fiscal autonomy to regions or states, which would engender competitive manufacturing and the diversification that will drive it.

According to Moghalu, Nigeria witnessed its best broad-based economic growth in the First Republic when resources were under regional control rather than its subsequent boom and bust cycles that were driven by reliance on oil rents.

He proposed that Nigeria’s economic policy makers should help the government develop targeted export policies and incentives that would drive diversification, adding that “achieving economic diversification in Nigeria would require a comprehensive and joined up approach to economic policy, rather than the silo approach we have seen for many years.”

The Punch says that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, has said the bank will increase its development finance interventions to further support start-ups and small and medium enterprises in the country.

Emefiele spoke while delivering the 51st convocation lecture of the University of Lagos, on Monday, with the topic, ‘National development and knowledge economy in the digital age: Leapfrogging SMEs in the 21st century’.

According to him, increased access to finance for start-ups and SMEs is highly essential for the nation’s economy to grow. He said special consideration should be given to the strengthening of physical and ICT infrastructure to enable SMEs to perform more efficiently and become globally competitive. He highlighted the critical role of vibrant and growing SMEs to the growth of the economy and the creation of jobs for Nigerian youth.

The CBN governor said the potential of SMEs in enhancing economic growth was hampered by limited access to finance, inadequate infrastructure and poor digital penetration. Emefiele urged the government and the private sector to provide more support in addressing the challenges of SMEs in the country.

The Sun reports that the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Mr. Bello Hassan, has expressed the readiness of the Corporation to partner with the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) towards enhancing innovation in the delivery of services to depositors and its other stakeholders.

The MD/CE made this disclosure while receiving the Director-General of the Bureau, Mr. Dasuki Ibrahim Arabi, and his management team on courtesy visit to the Corporation.

The NDIC boss said the commitment of the Corporation to effective service delivery informed the Board’s swift approval for the establishment of an Efficiency and Innovation Unit in the Strategy Development Department in compliance with the directive of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.

While stating the Corporation’s support for external assessment of its performance, Hassan expressed the belief that the Self- Assessment Tool (SAT) developed by the bureau would complement the Corporation’s existing mechanism for assessing the effective discharge of its mandate as well as assist it in achieving the Federal Government’s objectives of significantly strengthening governance and accountability in service delivery to the citizenry.

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