MONARCHS, leaders, and stakeholders of the South-South have urged the Governors of the six states in the geo-political zone to steer clear of squabble, and self-centered political interests that made the immediate past governors work at cross-purposes in the dispensation that ended May 29 (2015-2023).
They urged the governors of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, the oldest among them, and his Bayelsa counterpart, Senator Douye Diri, to galvanize the four new governors, and ensure cohesiveness for the collective growth of the region.
The new governors are Elder Sheriff Oboreverowi- Delta; Pastor Umo Eno – Akwa-Ibom state; Siminialaye Fubara (Rivers); and Bassey Otu (Cross-River).
The people were unhappy that the former governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, was at loggerheads with other governors of the region, including the ex-governors of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, Obaseki, and Diri, which adversely hurt the zone.
In addition, the former governor of Cross River state, Senator Ben Ayade, practically forgot about the collective South-South vision, as he distanced himself from other governors of PDP extraction in the zone, making it impossible for them to pursue the BRACED Commission mandate.
BRACED, meaning Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Cross-River, Edo, and Delta is the acronym for the development machinery set up by the governors of the six oil states to fast-track integrated development of the region.
East-West Road should be a major concern – HRM Kabari, Rivers
The paramount ruler of Barako, Gokana Local Government Area, Rivers State, HRM (Mene) Kadilo Kabari, told Saturday Vanguard: “To make the difference, the current South-South governors can take a cue from what the South-East governors did in the preceding dispensation.”
“They were toe-to-toe with Federal Government, monitoring and following -up on ensuring it delivered the Second Niger Bridge, and today the people are happier for it.”
“You see in unity of purpose in their efforts to deal with insecurity as well. Therefore, for the South-South governors, we expect them to awaken the good intentions for bringing about their regional forum and the BRACED Commission, above partisan and selfish sentiments.
“On the horizon, there are many things they should be focused on realizing. Aside from initiating broad-based joint development projects, the East-West Road should be a major matter they should tackle with the federal government. The Bonny-Bode Road is another key infrastructure vital to the development of the region.
“Then, there are the ports, not forgetting Ogoni Cleanup that has lingered for too long. It is in the atmosphere of cohesiveness and collective bargaining that the governors can give meaning to the successful realization of these goals.
“As the longer-serving governors, Godwin Obaseki of Edo, and Duoye Diri of Bayelsa should bring their experiences to bear by providing selfless leadership for the South-South Governors Forum that will earn the trust of the four new governors, and stir up all of them to build a greater South-South.”
They should unite —HRM Baridam, Rivers
The Gbenemene and Kasimene VI of Ancient Bangha Kingdom, Khana Local Government Area, Rivers State, HRM, King (Dr) Suanu Baridam, told Saturday Vanguard, “South-South is one of the strongest geo-political zones in Nigeria. I think the best option for the governor of the zone is to come together, irrespective of their political affiliation to forge a way forward for South-South.”
HRM Baridam, who is the acting President, the Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers, asserted, “What we want is for the governors of South-South to unite for the common interest if the region. If they do this, we are going to achieve a lot as a people.”
“Other governors of the South-South should feel free to work with Siminialaye Fubara. He is the Vice-Chairman of PDP governors. They should liaison with Fubara to get the region on the path of development.
“Douye Diri has an election to contest soon and the Edo Governor, Godwin Obaseki, is bowing out soon, I want these older governors to liaise with the new governors to work in unity.
“They should push a strong front that will stand for the people, in case we want to ask anything from the federal government. If they are not united, how will they bring benefits to the region? The best thing they can do for the people is to come because of the people that elected them.”
Obaseki and Diri should motivate others – HRM Ologho, Delta
The Regent of Emevor Kingdom, Isoko North Local Government Area, Delta State, HRM John Holt Ologho, advised Governors Obaseki and Diri to inspire the -other South-South governors to unite like their northern counterparts.
“The unity of the governors matters so much. They should come together and speak with one voice.”
Learn from past gaffe —Chief Gbenekama, Ijaw leader
The Fiyewei of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Delta state, Chief Godspower Gbenekama, asserted: “If governors came together and agree that this is the direction they want to go, they should go in that direction. If all South- South governors feel that it is the South- South turn, or the South turn to produce the president, then so be it.
“But all politicians are ambitious, everybody wanted to try his luck and somehow my friend, the person I respect so much, the immediate past governor of Delta state, tried his hands, all of them tried their luck in different things.
“Therefore, you cannot totally blame him, right now, what they should is to come together. The days of politicking is over, deceiving people, and deceiving themselves is over.
“Governor Diri and Obaseki and the other new ones should come together, pull themselves together, we need them to give South-South direction because as of now, they are the political leaders of the South- South.
“We need to give South- South adirection, let them learn from the mistakes of the past governors and forge ahead, let them come together, think, plan, and see how we can benefit this present dispensation.”
Mend fence —Olorogun Akpomudje, SAN, Delta
The Otota of Olomu Kingdom in Delta State, Olorogun Albert Akpomudje, SAN, “The idea of South-South governors coming together is brilliant. But if you recall, they took a stand that the Presidency should shift to the South, they did, but in between, you know what happened.
“There were betrayals and that is where the whole thing fell apart. If they can be true to themselves, why not, it is a welcome development because you see the northerners under the Arewa Movement.
“When it comes to major policy decisions, they listen to that Arewa and you see their governors’ forum, whether APC or PDP very strong. By the time it comes to a major decision, they are able to come together and say hey, this is where we should go.
“The South should do the same, but it is because of this lack of trust for each other. The Igbo man does not trust the Yoruba man, and the Yorubu man does not trust the Igbo. That is our major problem, but there is no way that there will not be disagreement, you should always try to find a way to reconcile their differences and continue with what they were doing before as South-South governors.”
Breathe life into BRACED Commission — Nwauju, APC chieftain
However, the Spokesperson of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers state, Darlington Nwauju, asserted, “First is to internalize the nuances of governance, especially for the first timers (even though most are in litigation).
“Get a grip on the current realities, especially the economic health of the state, and how it can manage to stay afloat in the next four years. Therefore, it is far more important to establish purpose and direction before looking beyond the shoulders to see how to unite with other South-South states.”
“I do not see anything binding the governors beyond political interests. No religious, educational, security, or economic bridges between and amongst the South-South states, we continue to witness the personalization of governance. Therefore, the more institutional bridges we succeed in building, the stronger the bonds of friendship we see. It is not rocket science.
“Good thing they are birds of the same political plumage (PDP), the more experienced governors should take the initiative to revive the BRACED Commission. Shed off primitive political orientations; invite ideologues and governance experts to blow the breeze of ideas on how to take the region out of the pecunious situation it finds itself.
“They should begin mass enlightenment of all political office holders from Councillors to Assembly members in the region to understand that the days of 13 percent Derivation funds will soon end and that the region must respond to the stimuli of the new reality that a knowledge-based economy is a way to go.
Make S-South an investment hub —Prof Awhefeada, Delta
An intellectual, Prof Sunny Awhefeada, said: “South-South governors should encourage regional integration and revive the brilliant idea of BRACED states made up of Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Cross- River, Edo, and Delta.
“There is so much they can do to develop infrastructure in the region and make it an investment hub.
“The South-South is one of the most endowed in terms of human and natural resources even without oil. So, the governors should think in the direction of regional integration.
“The toxicity (strained relationship of immediate past governors) was a product of misguided ambition and political selfishness. The present governors should jettison selfishness for selfishness, and focus on what to do to make life better for their people.
“Governors Godwin Obaseki and Duoye Diri, having been governors before the recently sworn-in governors should endeavor to chart a course for them to follow. Both men have the experience that can provide the navigational guide for the new governors.”
Reactivate S-South Govs Forum — Dr. Jonjon, ex-IYC president
Special Assistant on Ijaw National Affairs to the Bayelsa State Government, and president emeritus of the Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, Dr. Oyeinfie Jonjon, “Firstly, they need to reactivate the forum of South- South Governors and meet at least once a month rotationally in order to broaden, deepen, and strengthen the level of unity, they should go into partnership in areas of projects of common interest, like road, power generation, distribution, and railway among others.
”The people should be placed above any partisan interests. In addition, the governors should carry everyone not withstanding his/her political parties at the state Houses of Assembly and by extension, the federal parliamentarians.
”There should be a synergistic social, political, and cultural relationship in all areas of life, including fighting crime, poverty, and religious extremism.
”The doctrine of entitlement mentality and lazily waiting for manas from heaven should be strongly discouraged.”