Erudite scholar and former Chief of Staff, Government House, Delta State, Professor Gabriel Godini Darah, has challenged governors of the Niger Delta states to revive the struggle for resource control and fiscal federalism.
He also asked members of the state Houses and the National Assembly from the region to join forces with the governors to rekindle the agitation for resource control and self-determination.
Darah, a professor of English at the Delta State University, Abraka, noted that the last time governors of the region actively engaged the Federal Government over issues of fiscal federalism and resource control was between 1999 and 2003.
He spoke on Thursday in Yenagoa as a guest lecturer at a public lecture on the theme, “Federalism and Development in Nigeria”, organised by the Bayelsa State Government as part of activities for the funeral rites of the late former governor of the state, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
“Niger Delta governors and legislators must come together and revive the resource control struggle like it used to be during the time of Alamieyeseigha as governor of Bayelsa,” he said.
Darah, who was also Chairman of the Editorial Board of The Guardian Newspapers, asserted that it was only through the struggle that the Niger Delta minorities had been accorded recognition in the Nigerian state.
He stated that despite the impeachment of Alamieyeseigha as governor, the struggle for resource control over the years had changed the colour of politics in Nigeria in favour of the minorities.
According to him, one of the greatest concessions the agitation for resource control brought to the region was the ascendancy of the presidency by former president, Goodluck Jonathan.
He said: “The struggle for resource control has transformed politics in Nigeria. The struggle has also influenced government in many ways, the impeachment of Alamieyeseigha notwithstanding.
“The biggest gain of our struggle was the influence it had on the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) in 2007 when Dr. Goodluck Jonathan emerged as Vice President.
“We are the only minority that has produced a president.”
Darah extolled the leadership qualities of Alamieyeseigha and described him as “the Moses of the Ijaw nation”.
He said it was on record that he mobilised governors of the region to push for fiscal federalism, resource control and self-determination after the country returned to civilian government in 1999.
He also urged the Federal Government to realise that the practice of federalism would lead to the rapid development of the nation.
Darah said federalism was suitable for, and favoured, the country before the military incursion in 1966 which truncated federalism and the stability and prosperity of the regions.
According to him, the current unitary structure of the Federal Government has placed the burden of the nation’s well-being on a few states only namely, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers.