Senator David Dafinone
The first executive meeting of the Union of Niger Delta was held in Lagos on 24th March 2000 to deliberate on the state of the Nation and to review our position on the National Question.
The meeting took a detailed look at the Nigerian polity, especially as it affects the nationalities of the region.
Matters reviewed and deliberated upon included past, current and future prospect of the region, which has been the cornerstone of Nigeria economic development. It examines in all its ramifications, various subjects ranging from the convening of a Sovereign National Conference, the issue of Confederacy, the Devolution of Power among the Executives, Legislature and Judiciary and also among the Federal, States and Local Governments respectively.
It equally examined the unending religious conflicts within the Nigeria body polity among Christians and Moslems, especially those related to the introduction of Sharia Legal system in some States of the Federation and the wanton destruction of lives and properties incidental thereto.
Arising from the foregoing, the Union passed the following resolutions:
1. National Conference
The meeting after considering the corporate existence of
Nigeria supports the convening of a National Conference of all ethnic
nationalities in Nigeria to examine all relevant issues fundamental to our
corporate existence. The Union deploys the alterations of past National
Conference decisions in 1979 and 1995, which were manipulated by the Military
Government then in power.
However, as power belongs to the people, the Union is of the opinion that any decision arrived at from the deliberations of a National Conference should be submitted to a Referendum of the People inhabiting the Federal Republic of Nigeria who should have the final say on all issues as sovereignty belongs to the people.
2. Restructuring of the Country
The Union is of the view that the concept of a 6 zonal political structure for the country should be embarked upon as a matter of priority. It recalled that the idea was first mooted in the year 1912 by Major Temple, the then Lt. Governor of Northern Protectorate. It also noted that this concept subsequently formed the basis for the creation of 6 additional States by General Abacha in 1996.
The Union further affirmed that the operation of the existing 36 States structure has escalated the cost of governance and equally leaves the Federal Republic of Nigeria with little or no funds to carry out capital projects in the field of infrastructure, water supply, drainage system, food supply, housing, education, health and unemployment upon which the welfare of the people depends.
3. True Federalism
The Union endorses the establishment of true federalism in the country and hereby demand for a 100% resource control by the ethnic nationalities with appropriate tax paid to the Federal Government as it is the practice all over the world and in particular the United States of America. The Union equally maintains that the continental shelf belongs to the ethnic nationalities adjoining it, and as such all resources derivable from the continental shelf belongs to those ethnic nationalities: Mutatis Mutandis there should be no distinction between offshore and onshore in the sharing of oil revenue.
Furthermore, the Union calls for immediate abrogation of the
Land Use Act in furtherance of the principle of true federalism.
4. Devolution of Power
The Union considered the existing arrangements in the devolution of power between the Federal, States and Local Governments and between the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary as a gross anomaly. It calls for the abandonment of the Military style of approach where too much concentration of power has been left in the hands of the Federal Government to the detriment of the States and Local Governments respectively.
In furtherance of this objective, the Union advocates the transfer from the Federal Government in favour of the federating units such functions like; Education, Agriculture, Health, etc.
The Union also advocates a true separation of powers among the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary to ensure that none of these bodies is subordinate one to the other in the administration of justice in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
5. Religious Disturbances
The Union fervently holds the views that all the parties
involved in the religious crisis should desist from further perpetuation of
ethnicity and religious divide by living together in peace, tolerance and
understanding; for if not, the Nigeria of our dream will be a thing of the past.
The Union also holds the view that it is not in our interest, whether as Moslems
or Christians to participate in the ongoing malady and enjoins every patriot to
abide by the adage that “Where values collide, it is a recipe for disaster”
and that “it is better to jaw-jaw than to war-war”.
24th March 2000