Southern Governors Push for State-Controlled Wage Negotiations and Power Reforms

By Joke Kujenya

GOVERNORS FROM Nigeria’s southern states, under the Southern Governors’ Forum (SGF), have emphasized the need for each state to negotiate its own minimum wage, considering the varying costs of living and fiscal capacities.

Their resolution was contained in a communique issued following their meeting on June 25, 2024, in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

The governors also called for enhanced fiscal federalism and devolution of powers, highlighting concerns over the issuance of mineral licenses and exploration activities conducted without state government involvement.

They pointed out the criminal activities and environmental degradation resulting from these practices, which occur without any revenue benefits for the states or the Federal Government.

Addressing the region’s power supply issues, the governors stressed the importance of leveraging the recent constitutional amendment that allows states to generate, transmit, and distribute electricity as they proposed a shift towards renewable energy sources to alleviate the chronic power shortages hampering the region’s economic and industrial activities.

The states’ governors also expressed their commitment to an aggressive energy transition plan, moving from fossil fuels to cleaner energy alternatives such as Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Electric Vehicles (EVs), affirming that this transition aims to reduce transportation costs, subsequently lowering the prices of food and goods for the citizens.

Echoing the choice of Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun as the Forum’s Chairman, while Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo was appointed Vice Chairman, the communique stated that quarterly meetings would rotate among member states to ensure continuous collaboration and progress.

The SGF also called on the Federal Government to repair and reconstruct Trunk A roads and to transfer some roads to states willing to manage them, while they lauded Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu for initiating the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road project, which spans eight states and is expected to enhance employment, productivity, tourism, and trade.

In their commitment to improving transportation infrastructure, the governors resolved to commission a regional multimodal transport master plan, stating that this will prioritize connectivity across rail, road, air, and water transport, facilitating the movement of people and goods and improving business operations.

The communique also announced the creation of the Southern States Development Agenda (SSDA), a team tasked with fostering trade, investment, sustainable growth, and food security across the region, stressing that it will collaborate with state investment promotion agencies, the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission, and relevant multilateral agencies.

Advocating for state police, the governors noted the success of regional community-based security outfits in intelligence gathering and emphasized the need for governors to function effectively as Chief Security Officers of their states.

They also expressed unity and a shared purpose, emphasizing the importance of intra-regional trade, partnerships, and investment facilitation and further commended President Tinubu for his economic recovery initiatives and food palliative support, pledging to support his administration’s efforts to reposition the country.

The governors also addressed the tenure controversy of LG Chairmen in Rivers State, committing to upholding the law and constitution.

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