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Resource Control: North vs South: Who blinks first?

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  • As National Assembly begins fresh constitution amendment

By Richard Ihediwa

Demand for fiscal federalism by the oil rich South South to pave way for total resource control  of oil resources has polarised the country along the north and south divide ahead of the commencement of the fresh round of constitution amendment by the National Assembly.

The issue is believed to be one of the major items that would be thrown up at the amendment exercise as the leaders from the south south, including state governors as well as state and federal lawmakers from the region had already reached a consensus on the matter.

On the other hand governors and leaders from the northern state had called the bluff on their southern colleagues saying that north can survive without the oil resources from the south.

Sources in the National Assembly hinted that the issue has already started splitting members of the National Assembly along sectional lines ahead of the commencement of the review in the next few weeks. The Senate on Thursday said it is set for the amendment and had fixed July 13 to finish the job.

It was gathered that federal and state lawmakers from the south south have already started rallying their colleagues from other southern states to support the bid.

The position is fallout of the Monday meeting of south south governors, state and federal lawmakers, federal ministers and other leaders in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom state capital where the region canvassed the entrenchment of fiscal federalism in the country to enable it have total control of its oil resources.

In the communique, issues at the end of the meeting and read by Cross River state Governor Lyel Imoke, the regions also questioned the non-exploitation of the mineral deposits in other parts of the country.

The south south governors had rejected the demand by the northern governors led by Niger state Governor Babangida Aliyu for a review of the Revenue Formula so as to allocate more money to states.

The south south had instead insisted on the demand for total control of the oil resources and challenged other states and regions to develop their own resources.

Peoples Daily Weekend gathered that federal lawmakers from the north are now putting their heads together to adopt a common front on the matter especially against the backdrop of the position of the northern leaders that the region can survive without the south.

The northern leaders, who met under the aegis of Arewa Elders Forum (AEF), on Wednesday also told southerners who are agitating for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) that the North can survive if the country divides.

“We know this is an old call; it’s been long for over 20 years, they have been saying this corporate existence of the country, that the federal system is faulty”, said Prof. Ango Abdullahi, a chieftain of the forum and aide of the former President Olusegun Obasanjo,

“They are keen in sitting down to discuss what kind of arrangement would be conducive for Nigerians. This is an old call and it is not a new thing. Some people are hiding under the guise of this agitation to show that they are tired of staying in a united Nigeria,” he said.

Professor Abdullahi said northerners would not cause Nigeria’s break-up, adding that “if, however, others decided that the country be divided and they insisted that Nigeria break up, we won’t say no, because we realised there is nothing we are getting in the current arrangement that other sections of the country are not getting.”

There are however feelers that the National Assembly may work out an acceptable soft landing to end the disagreement. Sources hinted that the leadership of the National Assembly and the Constitution Review committees of both chambers are working out a template that may result in increased allocation to states as well increase in the derivative formula for the oil rich state which may get to 50 percent.

This position is coming against the backdrop of the fact that the north has more voting population in the National Assembly and might use this to frustrate the south, a situation that might further heighten the already tensed situation in the country.

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