By NBF News

Implement electoral reforms now, group tells FG
From Emmanuel Ogoigbe, Warri
Monday, March 08, 2010

With the 2011 general elections around the corner, the Federal Government has been told to immediately implement the electoral reforms as recommended by Justice Muhammed Uwais panel.

Chairman of the Isoko Consultative Forum, Senator Francis Okpozo, made the call at the weekend while addressing eminent Nigerians at the first quarterly luncheon of the forum at Ozoro, Delta State.

He commended the National Assembly for taking prompt action in resolving the leadership vacuum which saw the emergence of Dr Goodluck Jonathan as the acting president of the country.

He called for the immediate passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill pending before the National Assembly and urged the Federal Government to direct that the ownership of the ten per cent equity in oil companies should belong to the oil producing communities.

Senator Okpozo also decried what he termed 'wicked marginalization of the Isoko people'. Regretting that the Isoko ethnic nationality remains one of the most marginalized in Nigeria today, he stressed that apart from the dearth of infrastructure, the people have not been given challenging positions in industry or government as it should be.

'On the national scene, our reach to our neighbours has resulted in a joint presentation of our position to INEC on electoral reforms and constituency delineation, a presentation to the Senate Committee on the Petroleum Industry Bill as well as the House of Representatives Committee on the review of 1999 Constitution will continue to be on top of our agenda,' he noted.

According to him, the forum set up in 2001 was designed among other objectives to attract and monitor federal and state grants for the development of Isoko land. monitoring of funds inflow from sources to the state and local governments in close collaboration with the authorities with a view to promoting transparency in public expenditure to attract the United Nations World Bank, ADB and other international donor funds and project .

The forum, however, regretted that inspite of the representations made to Governor Emmanuel Uduagham to actualize these laudable objectives, no positive step has been taken by the governor to see that the objectives were implemented

Chairman on the occasion, Chief Oghale Ononeme commended the effort of the forum in ensuring a true, viable and developed Isokoland and urged other Isokos to join hands with the forum in order to move the people forward.