The members of the House of Representatives from the 17 Southern states have unanimously and unequivocally endorsed the resolution of the Southern Governors’ Forum (SGF) that the next President should emerge from the southern region.
They also described the attempt to tamper with the Electoral Act to remove electronic transmission of results as a malicious and unpatriotic act aimed to emasculate the electoral system, undermine democracy and destabilise the country.
The Chairman of the House of Representatives Southern Caucus, Hon. Victor Nwokolo in a statement issued Tuesday said the alleged attempt to remove electronic transmission of results from the Electoral Act amendment Bill cannot be condoned or justified under any guise whatsoever.
The southern lawmakers said the resolution by the Southern governors reinforces their stance, as federal lawmakers, that the nation must and should exist on the pillars of justice, equity, fairness, peaceful co-existence and mutual respect, particularly in the political, economic and structural management of national diversity.
It said the demand that the next President of Nigeria should come from the southern region unambiguously represents the opinion of the majority of Nigerians across board, in tandem with the already established rotation of presidency position between southern and northern Nigeria.
It stated: “Furthermore, against the backdrop of our commitment towards free, fair, credible and transparent elections, the members of the House of Representatives from the South also backs our governors in rejecting the moves to outlaw the electronic transmission of election result in the Electoral Act, as well as the confirmation of exclusive jurisdiction in pre-election matters on the Federal High Court.”
“The attempt to tamper with the Electoral Act to remove electronic transmission of result is therefore a malicious and unpatriotic act aimed to emasculate our electoral system, undermine our democracy and destabilize our dear country, and such cannot be condoned or justified under any guise whatsoever.”
The southern lawmakers were of the views that electronic transmission of results directly from the polling unit was a firm step towards the elimination of result collation related malpractices, including alteration of figures, mutilation of documents, snatching and diversion of ballot materials on transit to collation centers, among others.
On Petroleum Industry Bill, the Southern members have also thrown their weight behind their governors in rejecting the proposed 30% share of profit for the exploration of oil and gas in the basins.
The southern lawmakers also rejected the moves to vest the ownership structure of Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) in the Ministry of Finance and support the governors in their resolve that such should be held in trust by Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) since all tiers of government have stakes in that agency.
It added: “As lawmakers, we insist that the 30% share of profit as well as vesting ownership structure of the proposed NNPC on the ministry of finance instead of the NSIA do not reflect the desired essentials of justice, equity and fairness.”
The southern lawmakers however support the 5% share of the oil revenue to the host communities as recommended by the House, while assuring that every effort would be made to sustain our position at the harmonization level.
On security, the Southern lawmakers reiterated their support for the establishment of state police, ban on open grazing by southern states and that state governors, as Chief Security Officers in the states, must be duly informed before any security institution undertakes any operation in their states.
The Southern lawmakers further expressed their support for the resolution by the governors that deductions from the Federation Account for the Nigeria Police Security Trust Fund should be distributed among the states and Federal Government to combat security challenges.