BY ANKELI EMMANUEL, Sokoto
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) yesterday announced the constitution of a Special Intervention Committee to look into issues affecting its 19 member-states.
Alhaji Mustapha Wali, a member of the forum, announced the development in Makurdi, when the group paid a courtesy call on Gov Samuel Ortom of Benue.
Wali said that the committee was saddled with investigating and recommending the best ways to intervene on lingering and emerging issues affecting its members.
He regretted the internal challenges that had often led to bloodshed in some of northern states, and expressed NEF’s readiness to work toward resolving all disagreements to make for a united and peaceful northern Nigeria where prosperity would flourish.
“Any issue that threatens the peace and unity of the north of Nigeria is our primary concern; currently, our major concern is the herdsmen/farmers crisis,” he said.
He urged the Federal Government to intervene so as to settle the issues and douse tension in the land, and specifically suggested a uniform policy on grazing and ranching of cattle.
Earlier in his address, NEF Chairman, Chief Paul Unongo, had said that the forum was in Makurdi for a three-day meeting to discuss issues bordering on peace, unity and challenges affecting Northern Nigeria.
Unongo said that the forum was a political association that was not partisan, stressing that the peace of the region and the entire nation was not negotiable.
In his response, Gov Smauel Ortom charged the forum members to speak up on issues bothering the north “especially the herdsmen/farmers crisis”.
Ortom explained that the Benue Anti-Grazing Law 2017 ,which he signed into law in June, was not against the herdsmen.
“The law is aimed at checkmating the activities of both herdsmen and farmers, as well as other livestock in the state.
“My administration is ready to assist herdsmen and other people, who are willing to ranch their cattle, for the peace and unity of the Benue People,” he said.
He assured herdsmen living in the state of adequate security, and urged them to embrace the anti-gazing law in good faith.
The Governor further commended the 25-member NEF forum for selecting a Tiv elder to lead them, and expressed confidence that Unongo would not disappoint them.