By Eseoghene Emuke
An Associate Professor of Mass Communication and Journalism at the Delta State University, Abraka, Dr. Emmanuel Ufuophu-Biri, has said anyone opposing the Asaba Declaration at the just concluded Southern Governors’ Forum in Asaba is an enemy of a ‘progressive’ Nigeria.
The university don said the decisions reached by the governors will save the country from her current socio-economic challenges if the declarations are backed by law and implemented by the various state governments.
He commended the governors of the region for the decisions, stressing that there was an urgent need for everyone to work assiduously for the restructuring of the country in line with true federalism.
The mass communication scholar spoke on Monday while reacting to criticisms trialing the ‘Asaba Declaration’ by governors of the Southern Nigeria states.
He maintained that those critising the outcome of the meeting especially the ban on open grazing of cattle do not wish the country well.
According to him, the Southern governors do not speak only for themselves but for the over 130 million Southern people, adding, “Therefore any insult or assault on the governors or their actions is a direct insult and assault on the good people of the South.”
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The university don cautioned the impolite and unconstructive critics to desist immediately from making derogatory statements against the governors and the good people of Southern Nigeria.
Dr. Ufuophu-Biri re-assured the governors of the Southern people’s massive and unwavering support of the people of the region and urged them not to be discouraged by the ill-conceived and jaundiced criticism against their recent people and national-interest oriented resolutions.
He charged the governors to immediately facilitate the immediate passage of the appropriate resolutions into law in the different Southern states to save the country from the looming calamity.
“It is quite insulting and nationally debasing for one of the unguided critics to appear on national television stations and say that the Southern governors did not consult certain ethnic group who are outside the region before passing their resolutions.
“What an insult on the Southern governors. Are these critics insinuating that the Southern governors in a federal system are subservient to a certain ethnic group or region outside the South geo-political region?”
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“For some elected officers at state and federal levels from outside to criticize and condemn the resolutions of the Southern governor whereas governors from that other regions meet regularly and pass resolutions without criticism from the Southern regions is the climax of affront on the loving governors and good people of Southern Nigeria.
“What the governors resolved are apparent national realities, or are the critics oblivion of the grave security challenges in the country, the invasion of the South geo-political region by deadly non-Southern marauders or the critics are blind to the non-existence of true fiscal federalism in the country? Therefore, who is afraid of restructuring and true fiscal federalism?”, Dr. Ufuophu-Biri queried.
Dr. Ufuophu-Biri said that Nigeria is not a unitary state. Therefore, the governors have the right to legislate on any matters in the concurrent list. He added that “with all sense of modesty, I was privileged to be a Distinguished Visitor of the America government in 2009 under the American International Visitors’ Leadership Program and I held meetings with several top shots in the US and with the Chief of Austin Police Department, Texas, and I learned from him particularly that there are over 18,000 police departments in the USA that that are independent of themselves. That is true federalism”.
He asked further, “if we are in truly federalism, why are some people afraid of state police, whereas in true federalism, it goes beyond state police to county police and city police such as the New York Police Department, Los Angelis Police Department, etc.”
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He pointed out that the true enemies of Nigeria are the people against restructuring, true fiscal federalism, and regulation of open grazing. He added that some people in government easily cite America and other western countries when it comes to an increase in fuel price, but do not cite these countries for open grazing, state policing, and true fiscal federalism.
The renowned scholar, however, commended Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta for his reaffirmation of the Southern governors’ decisions and for his stance on sustainable development, human empowerment, truth, fairness, equal right and justice.