From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Bayelsa State Governor Douye Diri has described late military Head of State General Sani Abacha as a hero of the Ijaw nation.
Governor Diri, who spoke at a thanksgiving service ahead of the silver jubilee of the creation of Bayelsa and Nigeria’s 61st independence expressed appreciation to the late military ruler over the creation of the state 25 years ago on October 1, 1996.
According to the governor, the people of the homogeneous Ijaw state remain grateful to the late Nigerian leader for that singular decision regardless of factors that could have hindered the state’s creation.
The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Daniel Alabrah, quoted Governor Diri as eulogising Gen Abacha, noting that the late Head of State remains a hero to people of the state and indeed the Ijaw nation.
‘Let me use this medium to thank one man. He may not be popular in Nigeria but to me and all of us Bayelsans, we see him as a great man, a hero. The man who by the stroke of the pen signed the creation of Bayelsa State, I am talking about the late General Sani Abacha.
‘We acknowledge him as a state and people. By his singular assent, he created this state with just eight local government areas, which was less than the constitutional requirements,’ he said.
Speaking on Nigeria, Governor Diri expressed dissatisfaction with the present lopsided federal structure where the federal government takes resources from states and decides what is given to each state at the end of every month.
He said if the country was allowed to practice true federalism; it would enable the states as federating units to control their resources and contribute to the central government.
Diri seized the opportunity to call for the amendment of the Petroleum Industry Act to increase the three per cent allotted to host communities to 10% as well as include states and local governments as trustees in the implementation of the host community fund.
Describing the Act as a recipe for anarchy in the Niger Delta, he said the exclusion of states and local governments in the implementation of the law would give room to unscrupulous elements to capitalise on the loopholes and cause crisis in communities as it would be difficult to determine host communities.
‘I call on Mr President to ensure that there is justice, equity and fairness in the distribution of resources in our dear country. Let there be a new wind in the governance of this country. The PIA is not just and equitable to the people of the Niger Delta and Bayelsa State.
‘If the Act will be implemented successfully, let me call on Mr President to also send another amendment bill to include the states and local governments in the administration of the law,’ he said.