Ibori urges South South governors, other leaders not to fail the people


Former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, has tasked South South leaders to be apostles of fiscal federalism and see it as an unfinished business.

Speaking at the 24th anniversary of the South-South Governors, Legislators and Leaders’ summit in Asaba, Delta State capital, Ibori urged South South leaders to speak in the overriding interest of Niger Delta and the nation.

He said the theme of that first meeting: “We Must Not Fail Our People,” is very poignant today as it was yesterday.

In a statement issued by his Media Assistant, Tony Eluemunor, the former governor reminded the leaders that despite the mission, which gained momentum on Friday, March 31, 2000 and all the associated gains, much remains unaccomplished while new challenges have arisen.

He said the enthronement of true fiscal federalism “is a higher calling for which South South Governors must respond and take charge, on behalf of, and for the benefit of their people.”

He reminded them that despite the mission, which gained momentum on March 31, 2000 and all the associated gains, much remains unaccomplished and new challenges have arisen.

Ibori congratulated the South South governors, state legislators and National Assembly members on their elections.

He said that 10 months after inauguration, all the rancour, bitterness and disagreements occasioned by the politics of the last election must be left behind, saying: “From where I stand, the question is what’s the trajectory of the Niger Delta Region? We must pull together to answer that question to the benefit of Niger Deltans.”

He said, “Your Excellencies, South-South Governors, legislators and leaders, year 2000, the dawn of the new millennium is 24 years ago into the past. Since then, a lot of water has passed under the proverbial bridge. Many leaders of today are even unaware of the man-made challenges which faced the South-South zone then. It won the 13 percent derivation principle war and banished the Onshore and Offshore dichotomy, whereby oil revenue from the seas was said to belong entirely to Nigeria and with nothing going to the given littoral states.

“For acting on behalf of the South-South many Niger Delta leaders faced assorted obstacles and paid hefty prices. Four years later, Ibori organised a second summit in Asaba but the powers that be ensured that it never held; Chief A.K Dikibbo, the then National Vice-Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party was assassinated on his way to the summit.

“24 years after that first South-South leaders’ summit, Ibori wishes to encourage the present governors and South-South national legislators, and indeed the entire people of the area to address the salient problems; old and new. Among the old is the Land and Environmental question and a higher derivation principle percentage.

Ibori said in his 2000 address: “The land and environment are our natural patrimony. Any legislation that is aimed at taking our land rights from us should matter to us at all times at least for the sake of our children and the unborn generation. It is against this note of serious concern that I humbly draw the attention of Your Excellencies and distinguished lawmakers to the Land Use Act, 1978, which vested ownership in the country in both the state and federal governments. To the unwary or uniformed, it does not take away the right of the people to use and occupy their land. But for the more informed, it is one of the instruments by which our people and states have been denied the right to their patrimony under and over land.

“This is more serious when we realise that little or no attempt is made to remedy the damage done to our environment through the massive exploitation of our underground and undersea natural resources for a ceaseless period of almost 40 years. We are witnesses to the evils of environmental degradation, impoverishment and displacement of our people from their homesteads, farmlands and fishing streams, poor industrial base, youth restiveness, communal conflicts and violence, high rate of criminal activities, physical underdevelopment, mass unemployment and the associated problems of insecurity that oil and gas exploration have inflicted on our environment and people.”