Delta State governor, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, has been commended for his reaffirmation of the Southern governors’ recent resolutions on certain national issues and stance on sustainable development, human empowerment, truth, fairness, equal right and justice.
A university don and public commentator, Dr. Emmanuel Ufuophu-Biri, an Associate Professor of Mass Communication and Journalism at the Delta State University, Abraka gave the commendation following the governor’s stand on the Asaba declaration despite the criticism and condemnation from some persons in a particular region of the country.
Dr. Ufuophu-Biri, while commending Governor Okowa for his recent reaffirmation of the Southern governors’ resolutions, noted that Okowa is an outstanding leader whom not just Deltans but the entire people in Southern Nigeria admire and respect. “It is therefore insulting to the people for anyone from outside the region to condemn resolutions that were taken at the regional meeting he hosted”.
He noted that in addition to Governor Okowa, the other Southern governors do not speak for themselves but speak for the over 130 million Southern people. “Therefore any insult or assault on the governors or their actions is a direct insult and assault on the good people of the South”.
The university don cautioned the impolite and unconstructive critics to desist immediately from making derogatory statements against the amiable governors and the good people of Southern Nigeria.
Dr. Ufuophu-Biri re-assured the governors of the Southern people’s massive and unwavering support and urged them not to be discouraged by the ill-conceived and jaundiced criticism against their recent people and national-interest oriented resolutions.
He prayed the governor to immediately facilitate the immediate passage of the appropriate resolutions into law in the different Southern states.
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Dr. Ufuophu-Biri noted that, “it is quite insulting and nationally debasing for one of the unguided critics to appear on national television stations and say that the Southern governors did not consult certain ethnic group who are outside the region before passing their resolutions. What an insult on the Southern governors. Are these critics insinuating that the Southern governors in a federal system are subservient to a certain ethnic group or region outside the South geo-political region?”
He added “for some elected officers at state and federal levels from outside to criticize and condemn the resolutions of the Southern governor whereas governors from that other regions meet regularly and pass resolutions without criticism from the Southern regions is the climax of affront on the loving governors and good people of Southern Nigeria”.
“What the governors resolved are apparent national realities, or are the critics oblivious of the grave security challenges in the country, the invasion of the South geo-political region by deadly non-Southern marauders or are the critics are blind to the non-existence of true fiscal federalism in the country? Therefore, who is afraid of restructuring and true fiscal federalism?
Dr. Ufuophu-Biri said that Nigeria is not a unitary state. Therefore, the governors have the right to legislate on any matters in the concurrent list. He added that “with all sense of modesty, I was privileged to be a Distinguished Visitor of the American government in 2009 under the American International Visitors’ Leadership Program and I held meetings with several top shots in the US and with the Chief of Austin Police Department, Texas, and I learned from him particularly that there are over 18,000 police departments in the USA that are independent of themselves. That is true federalism”.
He asked further, “if we are truly practicing federalism, why are some people afraid of state police, whereas in true federalism, it goes beyond state police to county police and city police such as the New York Police Department, Los Angelis Police Department, etc.
He pointed out that the true enemies of Nigeria are the people against restructuring, true fiscal federalism, and regulation of open grazing. He added that some people in government easily cite America and other western countries when it comes to an increase in fuel price, but do not cite these countries for open grazing, state policing, and true fiscal federalism.