Two South-south governors - Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta) and Chief Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom) - Thursday cautioned their Northern counterparts against their current agitation for a review of the onshore-offshore oil dichotomy.
Uduaghan and Akpabio, at two separate forums in Effurun and Uyo respectively, warned that should the Federal Government bow to the clamour, it could trigger chain reactions that could imperil Nigeria.
While Uduaghan spoke at the general meeting of the South-south Peoples Assembly (SSPA) in Effurun, Delta State, Akpabio bared his mind on the controversial issue at the joint meeting of the South-south Forum of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Uyo, the state capital.
The duo, who spoke against the backdrop of the push by their Northern colleagues for a review of the onshore-offshore oil dichotomy, faulted the arguments of the Northern governors that the issue was responsible for the low revenue they are receiving from the Federation Account.
The Northern governors, who are also sceptical about the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), had set up a committee, comprising attorneys general and commissioners for justice of the 19 Northern states, to discuss the oil dichotomy.
The committee was given the task of reviewing the issue, its implications and is expected to make recommendations to the Northern governors on the way forward.
In addition, the Northern governors also set up a special eight-man committee, headed by Ahmed Mansur, an engineer, to advise them on the PIB currently before the National Assembly.
Uduaghan, however, urged the agitators for the abrogation of the onshore-offshore dichotomy to back off as the campaign would do the country no good.
He said the tension and crisis generated by the issue in the recent past, were too fresh to be reopened.
According to him, there was also apprehension in many quarters that if the dichotomy is abolished, there might be fresh agitation for the reduction of the 13 per cent derivation due to oil-producing states.
He said: "I worry when some leaders overlook the obligations placed upon them in not applying restraint in the position they take, such as on this issue of derivation.
"I say so because, the tension and crisis over derivation, in particular over the onshore-offshore dichotomy, is too recent in our collective memory to be reopened by anyone for debate.
"The fear in many quarters is that if they succeed in reopening and reversing this settled issue, then we can be sure that before long they will ask for a reduction of the 13 per cent derivation.
"I say to all those agitating for reversal of the onshore-offshore dichotomy to drop it. Drop it because it is a move that will do the country no good."
Uduaghan said on its part, the South-south was asking for a return to the first principle of derivation which was 50 per cent as was the case in the defunct First Republic.
He, therefore, urged the SSPA and the people of the region not to relent in the demand for 50 per cent derivation.
He also rallied support for President Goodluck Jonathan, stressing that the president's success or failure in office would be linked to the South-south, his geopolitical zone.
On his part, Akpabio, represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Chief Umanah Okon Umanah, said the South-south would resist any attempt to abrogate the oil dichotomy.
He debunked claims that some states are poor because of the derivation principle, adding that there was no legal basis for the campaign for the abolition of the onshore-off shore oil dichotomy.
The governor, who cited various injustices done to the Niger Delta region, especially during the military era, challenged labour to speak with one voice.
According to him, "We feel that any attempt to reopen the issue, which was long settled, will bring us back to oppression and marginalisation which could shake or threaten the foundation of the country."
Akpabio said there was no need for a review of the oil dichotomy, stressing that nobody should think that the principle of derivation was a favour to the region.