Urge President To Convoke National Dialogue
Ban Open Grazing In Southern Nigeria
Reject Another COVID-19 Lockdown
By Ovie Okpare
Governors of the seventeen southern states on Tuesday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently address the country over the worsening security situation across all parts of the country, saying the President’s silence was aggravating the situation.
The governors also charged Buhari as a matter of importance to convoke what it described as ‘national dialogue’ as parts of efforts at healing the seeming divide in the country.
They pointed out that it was only through dialogue that the widespread agitations for greater inclusiveness in existing governance arrangements could be resolved.
They further expressed fears that delay to convoke a national dialogue as a matter of urgency could result to further calamity and snowballed into more problems.
The governors stated this in a 12-point communique issued after a crucial security meeting on the state of the nation in Asaba, Delta State capital.
Chairman of the Southern Governor’s Forum and Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), who read the communique on behalf of colleagues to journalists, said addressing Nigerians would help doused the current tension across the country.
The forum, which particularly condemned the rising spate of insecurity, expressed worries over the activities of armed herders, criminals and bandits into the Southern part of the country and called for a ban to open grazing in the region.
Akeredolu said, “Consequently, the meeting resolved that open grazing of cattle be banned across Southern Nigeria.”
The Ondo governor reiterated that the ban on open grazing in the southern region would be enforced to stem the tide of insecurity that is gradually creeping into the region to save lives and property of its people.
He said the population growth in the southern region has put pressure on available land, and increased the prospects of conflicts between migrating herders and host communities.
The communique emphasised that the people of Southern part of the country were committed to the unity and indivisibility of the Nigerian State but on the “basis of justice, fairness, equity and oneness and peaceful co-existence between and among its peoples with a focus on the attainment of shared goals for economic development and prosperity.”
They also urged the President Buhari’s administration to take bold steps to restructure the country in line with the vision of its founding fathers to enable it make progress as a federation.
Akeredolu said there was dire need for the “evolution of state police, review of revenue allocation formula in favour of the sub-national governments and creation of other institutions which legitimately advance our commitment to and practice of true federalism.
“Recommended that in deference to the sensitivities of our various peoples, there is need to review appointments into Federal Government Agencies (including Security Agencies) to reflect federal character as Nigeria’s overall population is heterogenous.
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“The meeting therefore recommended the activation and establishment of ports in other states of the federation to create new jobs and promote socio-economic activities in the country.”
On COVID-19, the governors warned against another lockdown in the country, saying that the economic implications of such would be grave
They however advocated for greater “coordination and cooperation between Federal and State Governments in evolving strategies for dealing with the pandemic.”
Governors at the meeting include Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo, Nyesom Wike of Rivers, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti and Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, who was the host.
Others were; Godwin Obaseki of Edo, Douye Diri of Bayelsa, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Dave Umahi of Ebonyi, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, Willie Obiano of Anambra and Deputy Governor of Akwa-Ibom, Mr Moses Ekpo and his Imo counterpart, Prof. Placid Njoku.
Governors of Osun and Cross River, Isiaka Gboyega and Prof. Ben Ayade were absent at the meeting.