"Governors from the southern part of the country are demanding true federalism and devolution of powers to states.They made this demand during a meeting which held in Lagos on Monday.In a communique read by Akinwunmi Ambode,the host,the governors resolved to collaborate with one another for the growth and development.
Ambode said after extensive deliberations,the governors also emphasised priority on security and lives and property of citizens of the regions, while also resolving to work on an effective linkage on good infrastructure across the 17 states in the region.He said the goals of true federalism,which included the strengthening of autonomy and the enhancement of fiscal viability will enable the states to develop at their own pace, and based on their peculiarities.
Ambode said the forum had achieved an increased awareness on the sustenance of the national question germane to peaceful co-existence in the country.He frowned at what he described as the non-periodic review of the revenue formula as provided by the constitution to reflect evolving realities.
“States are disparaged for always carrying begging bowls to Abuja in quest of hand-outs from the federal government,” he said.
“This is a function of our present national constitution that burdens the federal government with activities and responsibilities that rightly fall within the province of states.
“The productivity and revenue-generating capacities of most states are thus stifled, thus turning them into no better than street beggar states incapable of even meeting routine obligations of paying workers’ salaries and pensions without federal support.”
Recalling how Lagos has fought and won several legal battles since 1999, Ambode said if his state could achieve so much by fighting alone,the southern governors’ forum would accomplish more through collective planning and strategy.The governor said the forum was reactivated at a time the national assembly is harmonising its differences over the 1999 constitution amendment.The last time the forum met was during the tenure of Bola Tinubu,a former governor of Lagos.
“It is important for this forum to comprehensively look at the proposed amendments with a view to working with our respective houses of assembly to ensure a coordinated response on our part that will strengthen the practice of democracy, federalism, constitutionalism and the rule of law,” he said.
"At the meeting,Ambode was appointed chairman of the forum while Dickson Umahi were appointed as co-chairmen.The forum scheduled its next meeting for Port Harcourt,Rivers state capital,at a yet to be announced date.
Those in attendance were Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun),Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun),David Umahi (Ebonyi), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa) and Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti).Governors of Cross River, Anambra and Delta were represented by their deputies – Evara Esu;Ikem Okeke and Kingsley Otuaro.