The coincidence of the vocal opposition of both the Southern governors and the Ethnic Youth Nationalities of Nigeria over the ban on open grazing should be a serious alert and concern to the federal government. The two pressure groups have communicated their gross rejection of open grazing by Fulani herdsmen across the southern states of Nigeria at this time of heightened insecurity in the land.
While the Governors were the first to rattle the nation in very strong and absolute terms, the ethnic youths Nationalities follow after the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami condemned the patriotic decision of the southern governors.
This to the youths, who have vowed to defend their various communities, is a shock that a high calibre government personality of Malami’s standing can stoop so low to express such a sentiment and take side in a national socio- economic and security matter.
The coalition of Ethnic Nationalities berated the nation’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice for his opposition to the banning of open grazing by Fulani herdsmen and accused him of promoting division in the country when he should be concerned about the unity and progress of every section.
Their leader, Comrade Nensok Luka Gonet, who is the National Chairman, Indigenous Ethnic Youth Leaders of Nigeria (EYLN), said the youth groups have vowed to use every means within the ambit of the law to defend, protect and secure their various communities against all forms of banditry, violent criminality and terrorism.
According to them, Nigeria’s insecurity has reached a stage that they can no longer remain docile. “We have lost a lot of our citizens to bandits and Unknown gunmen. Indigenous people of Nigeria are killed on daily basis; our communities are being ransacked by aliens. We would have no option but to mobilise ourselves as indigenous ethnic youths of Nigeria to defend our territories if this continues”.
Comrade Gonet who is the National President of the Ngas Youth Movement Worldwide observed that, “There is no single day passed without indigenous Nigerians being killed in one community or the other by “unknown gunmen” and “bandits”. It is becoming clear that our government we so much believed in cannot protect us. Bloodbath in Benue, Plateau Niger in North central Nigeria; same in Zamfara, Southern Kaduna, Sokoto and others in Northwest; Abia, Imo, Enugu are being ransacked everyday by same bandits and unknown gunmen in the south East; South-South and South West are battling same, no region of Nigeria is left out”.
To them, it is surprising that the Attorney General and minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN) would come on national TV to say that banning open grazing in the South is like banning spare parts selling in the north. To them, this does not correlate at all. While the likes of Governor Ganduje of Kano State who understands the modern techniques of animal husbandry advocating for ban on open grazing, Malami is overwhelmed by sentiments in his reactions. Spare parts sellers seek consent of shop owners and pay their shop rents to sell their spare parts, but the herders move around people’s land grazing without their consent, and sometimes even grazing on already cultivated farmlands causing crisis.
While restating their full support to Southern Governors to stand their grounds against open grazing ban, they said only this can curtailed the prevailing insecurity in Nigeria.
In their words: “Our elders raised this, and still raising concerns on the state of things and the situation keeps getting worse. Our brothers and sisters who took the oath to defend their fatherland serving in the military, police and other security agencies of Nigeria being killed helplessly, our communities are attacked on daily basis, and highways now gold mines for bandits who kidnapped for ransom, robbing our people of their heart earned treasures. Enough is enough”.
Meanwhile, at its meeting held on 11th May, 2021, the Southern Governors Forum reviewed the insecurity situation in the nation generally and focused on prospect for inter-state collaboration and partnerships to address the menace, hence their strong worded statement not to allow open grazing across the entire southern states.
They observed that the incursion of armed herders, criminals and bandits into the Southern part of the country has presented a severe security challenge such that citizens are not able to live their normal lives including pursuing various productive activities leading to a threat to food supply and general security.
Noting that development and population growth has put pressure on available land and increased the prospects of conflict between migrating herders and local populations in the South, and given this scenario, it becomes imperative to enforce the ban on open grazing in the South (including cattle movement to the South by foot.
They also recommended that the Federal Government should support willing States to develop alternative and modern livestock management systems and agreed that the progress of the nation requires that urgent and bold steps be taken to restructure the Nigerian Federation.
Because of obvious negligence, they resolved to foster cooperation among themselves to help themselves.
Going by the above position of both the governors and the youths, I fear for what may happen. Government must act to prevent any violent action across the nation. People may resort to self-help to begin to defend themselves by every means available, including illegal means if the situation is not brought under good control.
They agreed that the progress of the nation requires that urgent and bold steps be taken to restructure the Nigerian Federation leading to 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.
The 17 governors recommended that in view of widespread agitations among our various peoples for greater inclusiveness in existing governance arrangements, the Federal Government should convoke a national dialogue as a matter of urgency.
They 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 heterogeneous.
The governors resolved to foster cooperation among the Southern States and the nation at 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 expressed very grave concern on the security challenge currently plaguing the nation and strongly urged that Mr. President should address Nigerians on the challenges of insecurity and restore the confidence of our people.