President Muhammadu Buhari says the National Assembly, whose responsibility it is to ensure that the constitution responds to the call for a restructured Nigeria, has concluded regional consultations.
He said this yesterday while receiving the National Executive of the Ijaw National Congress led by Prof. Benjamin Okaba.
“As soon as they(National Assembly) finalise the process, necessary action would not be delayed on my part,” Buhari said while addressing his visitors’ call for immediate restructuring.
He used the occasion to address some demands of the association on several issues including environmental degradation, restructuring, creation of states, allocation of operational licenses for marginal fields to Ijaw people, inauguration of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, among others.
He commended the leadership of the INC on their recent affirmation of belief in a united Nigeria and supporting the fight against insecurity by developing internal control mechanisms.
Buhari, according to a statement by his media aide, Garba Shehu, implored the leadership of the association to use its influence “in making sure that we keep working together to keep this country a united, indivisible entity, so that we can tackle our problems together and overcome our challenges together.”
On the call for creation of two additional states and more local government areas for Ijaw people, he noted that it is a legislative matter which should naturally be handled by the National Assembly with concurrence at the state levels.
On the call for allocation of operational licences for marginal fields to Ijaw people, he said: “the process of granting licenses is guided by laid down rules and regulations, most of which even favour local content and local contractors. I see no reason why they should not be granted such licenses if they qualify.”
Buhari said the NDDC Board would be inaugurated as soon as the forensic audit report was submitted and accepted.
In his remarks, Okaba said the Ijaw had no secessionist agenda, reiterating “strong faith in the “overall and mutual benefits of true federalism and resource control to the prosperity and stability of Nigeria.”
He urged Buhari to mandate the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to direct the relocation of the headquarters of all oil companies to their operational bases in Ijaw land and the Niger Delta region.