Eight weeks after their inaugural meeting which was held in Asaba, Delta State on May 11, 2021, the Southern Governors Forum (SGF) met again in Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos State. They met yesterday, July 5, 2021 to deliberate on pressing issues like the recently passed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), ban on Open grazing in the region, zoning of the Presidency, State policing, and some other issues.
Following the above, we shall be taking a critical look into some of the important decisions reached at the end of their meeting held yesterday in Lagos State.
The Governors reached a conclusion that the next President of Nigeria should come from the southern part of the country, in the spirit of oneness, fairness, justice and equity. Yes, this is not a selfish decision nor have they asked for too much, this is in the best interest of the country’s unity and peaceful co-existence.
Even though some persons are already kicking against that decision, with some arguing that where the President comes from doesn’t matter but what should be of great importance and consideration is having a sound and qualified person as the country’s President. Well, I think the position of the Southern Governors remains the best for the country, especially at a time there are series of agitations to secede from the country. So, this will surely douse such tension to a great extent, because some of the ethnic groups crying out for being marginalized will have reasons to have a rethink on their pursuit for an independent nation.
And besides, the Governors were not selfish in the sense that they limited the zoning of the Presidency between the North and South, so once it is the turn of the South, it is left for them to decide which part of the South should be given the opportunity and same goes to the North.
Security Authority in the State:
The Governors stated that since they are the Chief Security Officer of their respective states, it is important that they should be informed of any operation within their various states. Which is yet another genuine demand from the Governors, because you cannot be a head of an organization, yet certain important decisions are taken without your consent or knowledge.
Be it known that the Governors are not saying that they have to decide which operation or not that the security agents should go for. No, all they want is for them to be dully informed of such operations within their states of jurisdiction.
Selective Criminal Administration of Justice:
The Governors at the end of their Lagos meeting frowned at the selective criminal administration of Justice being witnessed in the country. They demands that every Nigerian who commits any crime should be treated on equal basis regardless of ethnicity, religion or political party affiliation.
Their position on this is coming on the heels of the recent invasion of Sunday Igboho’s house by operatives of the Department of State Security Services (DSS) few days ago.
Therefore, the governors are of the opinion that offenders of the law should not be prosecuted based on their religion, ethnic group or the Political party they belong, but according to their offence/crime and what the law stipulates.
On Open grazing:
They equally maintained their earlier position on the ban on open grazing in the region and equally sets September 1, 2021 for the full implementation of the law across all member States.
Even though some persons have continued to politicize and tribalize it, but it is one of the best decisions reached at their first meeting, and it is a good thing that they have maintained their earlier position on open grazing. This is because, the issue of open grazing by herders has led to lost of many lives, crops, properties, etc, and in the interest of peace and co-existence, it is important that the practice be stopped, since it is one of the major causes of the frequent clashes between herders and farmers in that region.
Meanwhile, a better, more peaceful and modern form of grazing should be introduced for the interest of peace and unity in every part of the country, not just in the south. Yes, because it is said that prevention is better than cure, which is an undisputable truth.
Sharing of Police Security Trust Fund:
As part of their decisions, the Governors are demanding that the Nigeria Police Security Trust Fund should be shared equitably amongst the States and Federal Government to help them tackle the rising security challenges in their various states.
And since they are the Chief Security Officers of their respective states, it is fair that they should be in control of their own fund. Though I suggest that the funds must be monitored seriously, to ensure that it is Judiciously spent, especially in line with the purpose it was mapped out for.
Equally, it is important that the funds should be in the possession of the Governors for adequate and prompt combating of crimes and security challenges in their States. Yes, because the Governors are in better position to understand how best to confront the security challenges in their respective states than anyone else.
The Governors rejected the removal of the Electronic transmission of election results from the new electoral act. And I applaud the Governors for that decision, it shows that they are ready and sincere in reforming the electoral system in the country, which is good for our democracy. In fact, anyone who supports the removal of that important part of the electoral act has a hidden agenda which will continue to undermine our electoral system.
With the electronic transmission of the election results, it narrows the chances or opportunity for anybody, politician, electoral umpire, etc, to manipulate election results as we often witness in the past. In fact, with that law, rigging of any election in the country would be a thing of the past, and Nigerians can be sure that their votes will count hence.
The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB):
The southern Governors vehemently rejected the proposed three (3) percent share of the oil revenue to the host community and unanimously adopted the five (5) percent proposed by the House of Representatives. And on the other hand, they also rejected the thirty (30) percent share of profit for the exploration of oil and gas in the basins.