Members of Parliament from Nigeria’s southern region have backed governors in their states by adopting resolutions reached by the Southern Governors’ Forum on the rotation of Presidency in 2023, the Electronic Transmission of Election Results and the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
The lawmakers from the country’s House of Representatives made their stance known on Tuesday in a statement signed by Chairman of the Southern Caucus, Victor Nwokolo.
He said members of the House from the 17 southern states “unanimously and unequivocally endorse the patriotic resolution of the SGF on the resolve that the next president of Nigeria should emerge from the southern region.”
On Monday, Seventeen governors from southern Nigeria met in Lagos state where they discussed issues bordering on insecurity, PIB, electoral matters and came up with a resolution.
The caucus in the statement noted that the resolution by the governors only reinforces their stance, as federal lawmakers, that “our nation must and should exist on the pillars of justice, equity, fairness, peaceful co-existence and mutual respect, particularly in the political, economic and structural management of our national diversity.”
“We note that the demand that the next President of Nigeria should come from the southern region unambiguously represents the opinion of the majority of Nigerians across board, in tandem with the already established rotation of presidency position between southern and northern Nigeria,” the statement read.
“Furthermore, against the backdrop of our commitment towards free, fair, credible and transparent elections, the members of the House of Representatives from the South also back our governors in rejecting the moves to outlaw the electronic transmission of election result in the Electoral Act, as well as the confirmation of exclusive jurisdiction in pre-election matters on the Federal High Court.
“We hold that electronic transmission of results directly from the polling unit is a firm step towards the elimination of result collation related malpractices, including alteration of figures, mutilation of documents, snatching and diversion of ballot materials on transit to collation centres, among others.
“The attempt to tamper with the Electoral Act to remove electronic transmission of result is therefore a malicious and unpatriotic act aimed to emasculate our electoral system, undermine our democracy and destabilize our dear country, and such cannot be condoned or justified under any guise whatsoever.”
The statement continued, “On the PIB, the southern members of the House of Representatives also back our governors in rejecting the proposed 30 per cent share of profit for the exploration of oil and gas in the basins.
“We also reject the moves to vest the ownership structure of Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited in the Federal Ministry of Finance and support the governors in their resolve that such should be held in trust by Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, since all tiers of government have stakes in that agency.
“As lawmakers, we insist that the 30 per cent share of profit as well as vesting ownership structure of the proposed NNPC on the ministry of finance instead of the NSIA do not reflect the desired essentials of justice, equity and fairness.
“We, however, note the support lent by our governors to the 5 per cent share of the oil revenue to the host community as recommended by the House of Representatives and we assure that every effort would be made to sustain our position at the harmonisation level.”
The lawmakers also restated the stance of the southern governors, and declared their support for state police and ban on open grazing by southern states. According to the members of parliament the governors, as Chief Security Officers of their respective states, must be duly informed before security institution undertakes operations in their states.
The lawmakers said in their statement, “We also fully support the resolution by the governors that deductions from the Federation Account for the Nigeria Police Security Trust Fund should be distributed among the states and Federal Government to combat security challenges.
“We believe that these steps are imperative in guaranteeing the security of lives and property in the states under the prevailing situation and circumstance in our country.
“The southern members of the House of Representatives restate our commitment to the unity, stability and peaceful coexistence in our country while applauding the southern governors for their unwavering patriotic stand on national issues, especially at this critical time in our national life.”
By Abel Ejikeme