Six Governors of the South-south region of Nigeria are meeting today in what appears to be a make or mar gathering to take a radical stand on the vexed issue of resource control and devolution of powers among the federating units.
The governors are Nyesom Wike, River; Duoye Diri, Bayelsa; Delta, Ifeanyi Okowa; Cross River, Ben Ayade and Akwa Ibom, Emmanuel Edom.
The meeting was propelled by the decision of the Federal Government to allow Zamfara state to mine and take control of the gold resources in the state and deny oil producing states the same privilege.
Our correspondent gathered that the governors were piqued at what they described as divide and rule stand of the federal government despite the fact that the 1999 constitutions vested all mineral resources in the country on the Federal Government.
Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, had last Wednesday expressed worry at federal government’s apparent tacit endorsement of the decision of Zamfara State to assume exclusive right to solid minerals in the state, particularly the gold deposits.
He had said that the action was capable of truncating the hard-earned peace in the country.
Our correspondent quoted Okowa as saying, “There are Acts of the National Assembly that dealt specifically and unequivocally with oil production and solid minerals. We cannot apply laws in such a manner that it becomes discriminatory because you cannot mine solid minerals somewhere in Zamfara and not allow Niger Delta to manage their oil.
“The South-south governors have been in the forefront for the devolution of power to states and local governments. Restructuring, resource control and security of the country, especially in the Niger Delta will be a major topic of discussion at the parley coming up in Port Harcourt.
The meeting, to be held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, under the auspices of the Forum of South-South Governors, according to the governor, will take stand on the Zamafa gold mine its ownership vis-à-vis the ownership of oil in the south.