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Finally, South-South govs bow to pressure, resume meeting soon

By Emma Amaize

ASABA — GOVERNORS of the South-South geo-political zone have resolved to pick up the South-South Governors’ Forum, SSGF, and the BRACED Commission, the regional institution established by their predecessors to drive the process of cooperation and integration among the South-South states in 2011, from where they left off, in deference to the demand by leaders and people of the region.

A source close to one of the governors, told NDV, yesterday: “The governors have agreed in principle to start meeting again on the platform of the South-South Governors Forum and also give a kiss of life to the BRACED Commission, which stands for Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Rivers.”

Our govs’re ready to assemble – Nkanga

Former military governor of Akwa Ibom State and chairman of Pan-Niger-Delta Forum, PANDEF, committee inaugurated last month, to reach out to the governors on the need to reunite and strategize together in the interest of the geo-political zone, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (retd.), confirmed to NDV on phone that from his findings, the governors were geared up to meet before long.

South-South Governors

It was gathered that the Bayelsa State governor, Hon Seriake Dickson, the oldest serving South-South governor at the moment, has been saddled with the task of mobilizing his colleagues and spearheading the reunion. He assured South-South leader and convener of PANDEF, Chief Edwin Clark, that he understood the inevitability of the governors recommencing the SSGF and rejuvenating the BRACED Commission.

Udom playing catalyst role: Our dependable source hinted: “One person among them, who has been incredible in rousing his colleagues to honour the demand of the citizens of the zone is the governor of Akwa Ibom State, Emmanuel Udom. Besides speaking to Governor Dickson, he had spoken to two or three other governors as well.

I can tell you that Governor Udom very keen about the resuscitation of the SSGF and BRACED Commission and willing to do anything to see that the governors speak with one voice. For him, there should be no delay about it and even if others want Akwa Ibom to host the first meeting, this year, he is prepared,” the source added.

Ball in Dickson’s court:  According to him: “They (the governors) will be meeting soon, the matter is practically settled, the demand is clear and they have no option than to obey the call of their people, but the snag before was that there was a lot of problems since they assumed office and they needed to handle the issues first, those matters are somewhat over now, they can now breathe and see clearly.”

He disclosed: “All the governors concur too that Hon Dickson is the oldest among them and should lead the process, so how fast they move on the matter now depends on him. I do not know if he had spoken to governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, who is the newest among them and of the All Progressives Congress, APC.”

Dickson, Okowa unavailable for comments: Attempts to get the Bayelsa State governor, Dickson, weekend, to know how he has mustered his colleagues did not yield result, as calls and text message to his line by this reporter were not responded to. NDV could also not get the governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, for comments, as his phone rang out on several occasions, but his Commissioner for Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah, who was contacted, said his boss was not disposed.

Getting Obaseki on the bloc: At the time the former governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who was the immediate past chairman of the South-South Governors Forum vacated office, he was not discussing issues of the forum with any of the other five governors of the region, who are members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, because of the hostilities among them.

It was not known whether Governor Dickson has contacted Oshiomhole’s successor, Mr. Obaseki, who many believe that as a technocrat and investment banker, he would be more disposed to the dreams of the BRACED Commission than his former boss, who more often than not, read politics in the moves of his colleagues. And moreover, the existing unfriendly political atmosphere during Oshiomhole’s time has radically changed.

I’ve not heard from govs on new resolve – Clark

When NDV asked Chief Clark on Friday if any of the governors had contacted him on their new resolve, he said that none had reached him, but reiterated that he had expressed his mind to Governors Dickson and Okowa.

Political atmosphere

His words: “At the risk of repeating myself, I want to say that the earlier they reunite, the better for the region. The vice president will soon be visiting other parts of Niger Delta after his last visit to Delta State. He will be visiting Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Rivers, Imo and Edo states, I expect the governors to come together on such occasion to show our oneness, unlike when he came to Delta State, only the governor of Delta State, Okowa, was there.”

Monarch advises govs: Former national chairman of the Traditional Rulers of Oil Minerals Producing Communities of Nigeria, TROMPCON, and paramount ruler of Seimbiri Kingdom, Delta State, His Majesty, Pere Charles Ayemi-Botu, aka Lion of the Niger, who welcomed the decision of the South-South governors to restart the SSGF and probably, BRACED Commission, said: “They should avoid politicizing their actions this time around, drop their personal interests and party affiliations to discuss issues that will benefit the region.

“Interests of the region should supersede whatever they do, the region cannot develop the way the people want when their governors, who are the political leaders are not working together. It does not matter the political party, the people of the zone cannot all be in one party, so we not expect the governors to be in one party, but interests of the zone is supreme no matter the political party. That is what the people are saying,” he added.

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