On Monday, October 23, 2017, fifteen governors of the southern states met in Lagos to speak in one voice on the political developments in Nigeria.
They met for three long hours, after which they issued a communique to summarize their demands from the federal government. In case you did not have the opportunity to hear or see any of the versions of the unanimous voice of the governors, this is the summary:
‘They want devolution of more powers to the states, as well as increase on the 13 per cent allocation for oil-producing states.’
Yes, their demands are legitimate and fair, but like I have copiously argued in my earlier piece in this medium, I am skeptical about the sincerity of the governors’ request for more powers, knowing that more powers will breed more corruption.
I am not one of the state governors, so I was neither invited for the governors’ parley nor did I find it necessary to gatecrash in order to push forward my views. But I was all the while burdened with the fact that these governors might deviate from the critical issues of the collective concern of all southerners, and might wander into issues of private interests. That they did, giving the parochial tone of their communique.
Of course I held my peace while the governors’ meeting lasted, as I looked forward with voracious eagerness to knowing the outcome. And, finally the governors arose from the meeting with one voice. Their demand was short, simple and straightforward, as I’ve stated above. But it was below expectation. It was self-centered, conceived and crafted in entirety for the pleasures and benefits of the political elite. I was so worried I wanted to put a call through to my state Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, but I was to gather he never attended the meeting neither has his media aide deemed it fit to explain to us why our governor would be missing in such an august gathering.
On Tuesday, after wide intellectual consultations, I decided it was pertinent to convene an all-inclusive, robust and broader parley with the full-scale participation of all the reliable stakeholders esteemed for their impeccable sense of judgment and attest able neutrality in the political divide-and-rule of the day, and I sent out invitations.
These were all in the meeting: my brain, my mind, my heart, my body, and all my senses. It will be important to mention here that this meeting was rendezvoused at a private home in Asaba, in a serene environment where siren-blaring and characteristic distractions by aides and customized ring tones from importunate mistresses were banned. In this crucial meeting, which in number did not boast of as many “guber” attendees as that of Lagos, the participants represented the collective will of the populace; in other words, the trusted conscience of the shortchanged people of the underdeveloped southern Nigeria.
Restricting the agenda of this meeting to the communiqué of the Southern Governors, we reviewed the real issues and compared them with the parochial, selfish demands of the governors. We wondered why the same governors, who have underdeveloped their various states by refusing to devolve to the council chairmen their constitutional powers, could be demanding from federal government more powers; we are disturbed that these governors will soon change their titles to ‘kings’.
After an unbiased, objective review of events, this most august meeting, with the noblest of intentions, is therefore glad to come up with the real communiqué:
We the conscience of the people of Southern Nigeria, and indeed Nigeria as a whole, have reviewed the Communiqué of the Southern Governors’ meeting held in Ikeja, Lagos on Monday the 23rd of October, 2017 and, having found some weaknesses in the said communiqué, we deem it very necessary to urgently issue this more-comprehensive and more-acceptable communiqué, not as an addendum, but as the true demand of the majority of the good people of the south, whose priorities were carefully misplaced by our governors in the first communiqué. We therefore make the following demands:
- That all southern states governors should begin the process of power devolution by relinquishing their imperial control on local councils, and allow development to flow to the communities by giving the elected council chairmen the free hand to manage the councils’ affairs. [For charity must begin at home.]]
- That all governors of this region, the same way they publish their state-sponsored propaganda and publicize those fake awards purchased with state funds, should publish the audited accounts of their states from the day they were sworn in till date.
- They should prove in writing, with facts and figures, that their demands from the federal government are based on egalitarian principles of democracy and not tilted on elitist game plan to consolidate their slavish hold on the already-enslaved masses.
- That each governor should mention specifically how much they allot to themselves as security vote, and how they spend it.
- That all governors should henceforth reduce the number of idle aides and phantom staff as a way of curbing wastages in public expenditure.
While we salute the courage of our governors, and their boldness, in demanding for more, we hereby charge them to explain to the world how they have spent the huge allocations they’ve been getting from the federation account.