BY JONATHAN NDA- ISAIAH, FELIX IGBEKOYI, ACHOR ABIMAJE, TOPE FAYEHUN and ISAIAH BENJAMIN |
The governors of southern Nigeria yesterday held a meeting over the ravaging security crisis in the country and took some far reaching decisions to contain the situation.
They banned open grazing in the southern region to stem the incessant herder-farmer clashes, demanded a restructuring of the country for more effective governance, asked for the establishment of state police and the review of the revenue allocation formula.
The southern governors also called for the convoking of a national dialogue to arrest concerns of non-inclusion in the polity.
The governors, comprising those of the South-South, South East and South West geopolitical zones, further urged President Muhammadu Buhari to address Nigerians to restore the confidence of the people.
The governors made these resolutions when they met at Government House, Asaba, Delta State, over the rising insecurity across the country.
Reading a 12-point communique after the meeting, chairman of the forum, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, said: “The incursion of armed herders, criminals and bandits into the southern part of the country has presented a severe security challenges 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. Consequently, the meeting resolved that open grazing of cattle be banned across southern Nigeria.”
Akeredolu, however, noted that the development and population growth had put pressure on available land and increased the prospects of conflicts between migrating herders and local populations in the south.
The Ondo governor added that given that scenario, it had become imperative to enforce the ban on open grazing in the South, including movement of cattle by foot.
The governor, however, said the federal government should support willing states to develop alternative and modern livestock management systems.
The forum equally called for urgent and bold steps 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 commitment to and practise of true federalism.
The governors also recommended that “the federal government should urgently convoke a national dialogue” in view of what it called “widespread agitations among various peoples for greater inclusiveness in the existing governance arrangement.”
They also said there is the need to review appointments into federal government agencies, including the security agencies, to reflect federal character as “Nigeria’s overall population is heterogeneous.”
The governors also expressed concern over the economic implications of another lockdown on the country.
They, therefore, suggested greater coordination and cooperation between the federal government and state government in evolving strategies for dealing with the pandemic.
The forum expressed concern at the continued gridlock on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway and the chokehold it has exerted on the nation’s economy, being the sole outlet from Apapa Wharf.
According to the forum, there is urgent need for the activation and establishment of ports in other states of the federation to create new jobs and promote socioeconomic activities in the country.
Akeredolu added that the “peoples of Southern Nigeria remain committed to the unity of Nigeria on the basis of justice, fairness, equity and oneness and peaceful coexistence between and among its peoples, with a focus on the attainment of shared goals for economic development and prosperity.”
Expectedly, the meeting however attracted heavy security presence in the city which may not be unconnected with security challenges in the area including succession threats and persistent attacks on police assets and killing of policemen in the South East and South South geopolitical zones.
While Asaba International Airport was manned by security personnel, various roads, especially the one leading to Government House and other flashpoints in the city were barricaded.
The governors at the meeting were Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta; Okezie lkpeazu, Abia; Willie Obiano, Anambra; Duoye Diri, Bayelsa; Ben Ayade, Cross River; Godwin Obaseki, Edo; David Umahi, Ebonyi; Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Enugu; Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti; Babajide Sanwo-olu, Lagos; Dapo Abiodun, Ogun; Rotimi Akeredolu, Ondo; Seyi Makinde, Oyo, and Nyeson Wike, Rivers.Osun and Cross River state governors were absent and not represented while Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State and Chief Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom states were represented by their deputies, Prof Placcid Njoku and Moses Ekpo respectively.
Effort to get the chairman of Northern State Governors’ Forum and governor of Plateau State, Barr. Simon Lalong, to comment on the issue was not successful as of press time.
ACF Backs Southern Governors On Grazing Ban, National Dialogue, Differs On Restructuring
The apex northern sociocultural group, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has thrown its weight on the ban on open grazing and call for national dialogue; it, however, differs on issues of restructuring.
ACF, reacting to communiqué issued at the end of the Southern Nigerian Governors Forum (SNGF) in Asaba, Delta State, through the national publicity secretary, Mr Emmanuel Yawe, said, “On the issue of ban of open grazing, I don’t think there is much problem here with the stand of the ACF.
“At our last National Working Committee (NWC) meeting in Kaduna, the national leader of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) spoke to us at length. He said he and his organisation had decided that the only way forward, and that is in the interest of MACBAN is to embark on ranching and that they were waiting for government’s policy on it.”
Yawe said, “If MACBAN wants open grazing banned, not only in the southern part of Nigeria but all over Nigeria, who are we to say otherwise? We are therefore in support of the stand of MACBAN and the Southern State Governors.”
On the issue of national dialogue, he said ACF had always believed in it if the aim of the dialogue is to promote the unity and progress of the whole country.
“Our Forum will dialogue with any state and group of people that share our cherished ideals of unity, justice, peace and progress,” he said.
On restructuring, he said that the “ACF believes that before it takes a decision on this, “we should agree on whether Nigeria should remain as one country before deciding on what structure Nigeria should take.
“Our position on this is informed by the fact that some of the advocates of restructuring are at the same time advocating the dissolution of Nigeria.. Are they believers in Nigeria at all? We must all agree to let Nigeria be, before we move forward,” he said.
President Buhari Okays New Security Measures For South East, South South
In view of the rising insecurity in the South East and South South, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved new security measures for the two geopolitical zones. The acting inspector general of police, Usman Baba, alongside the national security adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (retd) and chief of defence staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, disclosed this to State House correspondents after the security council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja.
The council also took a decision not to publicise measures to be deployed to tackle insecurity in the country henceforth for a more effective result. The council agreed that the level of insecurity in the country, especially in the last one-month, must be reversed.
According to the acting IGP, the security council meeting, which has taken place three times during the last 11 days, assessed the situation in the country, particularly South East and South-South as it affects law and order.
He said: “We have some measures which we have outlined and have been approved by the council and we will see how we can change the narrative within the quickest possible means to restore law and order and restore peace in that area.
“We solicit all law-abiding citizens to work with us to identify and deal with the situation. That is that. I may not go into the details of how we will do that.”
During his briefing, Monguno said the meeting stressed the need to address the security challenges in the country, particularly those that have arisen in the last few months.
He said the president gave them marching orders to deal with the emerging problems physically.
He said: “The first two meetings were inconclusive, but today’s meeting is the final of the three meetings. Again, Mr. President’s concern at the growing trend of insecurity has been highlighted and the meeting, basically, was briefed by the national security adviser, the chief of defence staff and the inspector-general police.
“I briefed the meeting on strategic issues in relation to security, while the chief of defence staff briefed on operational issues, and inspector general of police briefed on constabulary matters.
“On my part, I briefed council on the enablers of crime and the need to find quick responses with a view to mitigating the growing threats to society.
“These enablers were discussed in detail and Mr. President has already given direction on how to deal with them, specifically issues of drug abuse as propellants for crime, how to make the criminal justice system much more effective, as well as looking at issues of unemployment, which, of course, the federal executive council had given an approval, through previous memos on how to get 100 million people out of poverty; that was also discussed. Then, again, the lack of an effective crime reporting system.
“Again, the president has given direction on how to make these things effective. Already, the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) has been given certain instructions on how to deal with this, but by and by, council has agreed that the level of insecurity in the country, especially in the last one month, is something that has to be addressed with the immediacy that it requires; and at the operational level, of course, the chief of defence staff has been working with the service chiefs and the recommendations they’ve made to the council are already being handled.”
Irabor on his part said far reaching decisions have been made that will boost the operations of the security agencies.
“No doubt, far-reaching decisions were made. On our part, just as the national security adviser indicated, I briefed on various measures that the armed forces, in partnership with other security agencies, have taken to stem the tide of insecurity across the country.
“The council was pleased with the actions and, of course, the prayers that were made, which council has also graciously undertaken to look into.
“These, of course, have to do with manpower development, training and equipment issues, and, thankfully, the glow on my face should, of course, give you an indication as to the graciousness of the National Security Council, in relation to the briefings that we’ve given in this regard and I believe that going forward, we shall be translating that and it will have some great impact on the security disposition across the country,” he said.
Resign, Afenifere Tells President
The Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has declared that President Muhammadu Buhari cannot address the many problems confronting the nation, hence the need for him to step aside.
The group maintained that the administration of President Buhari had incapacitated the country and had failed to address the increasing wave of insecurity and economic downturn.
Afenifere’s acting national leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, made the call at the 95th birthday celebration of the leader of the group and the dedication of a church in the honour of Chief Reuben Fasonrati in Iju/Ita Ogbolu in Akure north local government area of Ondo State.
According to the elder statesman, with the series of challenges confronting the country, President Buhari ought to have resigned long ago without being forced to.
Adebanjo, who insisted that there was no better time to leave than now, noted that Buhari’s government can no longer handle the situation of the country.
“I have told them that in a better and civilised country, he should have gone long ago. If he has self-respect, he should have gone because everything has fallen.
‘’What is he presiding over? Is it over corruption, security, education? Law and order had broken down in the country for the past three years. It is only because Nigerians are over tolerance of despots, that is why he is still there.
“The younger generation has failed the country. The country was not as bad as this when we were demonstrating self-governance.
“They want the old men to fight their cause for them. Why should people like me be in the trenches at 93 and Baba Fasoranti at 95? Where are those in their 40s and 30s?
When we were at their age, we were in the street, at Lagos, London, everywhere and when we were in the university.
“What we have today is jobbery – where you can get somebody in the government to get you a job.
“You are PDP in the morning, APC in the afternoon, and SDP in the evening, and they say they are youn; the youth should be ashamed of themselves,” Pa Adebanjo said.
He, however, expressed optimism that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“As a Christian, I still have hope if Nigerians are conscious of their rights and they know what to do, but where is the demonstration in the country that the Buhari government must go?” he asked.