AS JONATHAN OPENS NATIONAL CONFERENCE: NIGER DELTA TO DEMAND 100% OF OIL REVENUES.
President Goodluck Jonathan will today inaugurate the 492-member National Conference that will for the next three months discuss critical issues bothering on the unity and development of the country.
Some of the topics include resource control, regionalism, confederation, state creation and revenue sharing formula among others.
President Jonathan had on October 1, 2013 in his independence message, announced that he will organise the national conference, for various individuals and groups to discuss what they feel should be added or removed in the socio-political life of the country.
On January 31 this year, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Anyim Pius Anyim announced the modalities for the conference, where he stated the number and allocation of delegates and the duration of the conference.
Groups, especially ethno-religious bodies have met separately to map out strategies on how to present their positions so as not to be “short-changed” by those they consider rivals or competitors.
Top on the agenda for the North-West will be insecurity, oil exploration in the north, abrogation of onshore/offshore dichotomy in revenue sharing formula, devolution of power, creation of more states and a new revenue sharing formula between FG, states and local governments.
The North-East has similar agenda with the North-West while the North-Central will seek constitutional powers for traditional rulers, herders/farmers conflicts, abolition of indigene/settler concept and creation of more states.
The oil rich region South-south will demand for 100 percent control of natural resources at the conference, human rights lawyer Mike Ozekhome told Daily Trust yesterday.
He said: “I can say that the entire Niger Delta would be clamoring for resource control and fiscal federalism where each federating unit takes care of its resources and pay tax to the federal government at the center.”
Ozekhome was earlier appointed as a delegate for the ethnic nationality from Afemai, Edo state but later substituted as a federal government delegate.
The South-West will seek confederation, devolution of power and greater security, with the South-South campaigning for resource control, regionalism and more powers for traditional institutions.
The South-East will also seek constitutional powers for traditional rulers, new revenue sharing formula, negotiations of conditions for co-existence as well as the creation of more states.
After the inauguration today, it is expected that conference delegates will use the next few days to familiarise themselves with the rules and proceedings of the conference, after which serious debates and negotiations will start.