GOVERNORS in the 17 states of southern Nigeria on Tuesday demanded that the President, Mohammadu Buhari, should address the country on mounting security challenges and restore the confidence of the people.
The governors, who held a four-hour meeting in Asaba, Delta State, chaired by the Governor of Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, resolved to ban open grazing in their domains.
The group, in a 12-point resolution, urged Buhari to convoke a national dialogue as a matter of urgency.
They also demanded that bold steps be taken towards the restructuring of the country, saying state police had become a necessity.
The communiqué read in part, “The forum affirm that the people of southern Nigeria remain committed to the unity of Nigeria on the basis of justice, fairness, equity and oneness and peaceful co-existence between and among its people with a focus on the attainment of shared goals for economic development and prosperity.
“We observe 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. Consequently, the meeting resolved that open grazing of cattle be banned across southern Nigeria.
“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, southern governors 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.
“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.”
The chief executive officers asked the Federal Government to review appointments into government agencies to reflect federal character, saying Nigeria’s overall population was heterogeneous.
The southern governors also expressed concern on the economic implications of another lockdown on the country, and therefore suggested greater coordination and cooperation between federal and state governments in evolving strategies for dealing with the pandemic.
The meeting was hosted by the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa.
Among governors in attendance were Dr Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos).
Afenifere agrees with southern govs on national dialogue
Meanwhile, different socio-cultural groups in the South supported the governors’ call for restructuring, national dialogue and a state of the nation address by the President.
The pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, said the demands by the governors were long overdue.
The Secretary General of the group, Bashorun Sehinde Arogbofa, said there was a need for the President to speak out and take action on the issues.
He said, “I agree entirely with the governors of the South. At where we are today, there must be a national dialogue. Let the President speak out. If he says those people killing should stop killing, they will stop.”
PANDEF backs forum on open grazing ban, others
On its part, the Pan Niger Delta Forum declared its support for the decisions reached by the governors especially on the issue of restructuring and banning of open grazing of cattle.
PANDEF spokesman, Ken Robinson, who stated this during an interview with one of our correspondent, said, “We had expected that they would meet and it is a good thing that they met.
“We hope that the meeting will now be regular. We have also seen the communiqué that they issued. It is very commendable. For once, the 17 southern governors; the positions they have taken are in tandem with the desires and aspirations of the people of southern Nigeria.”
National dialogue inevitable – Ohanaeze
Also, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, applauded the southern governors for coming together.
Spokesman for Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, who spoke with one of our correspondents on the telephone, said, “On the issue of amending the constitution to reflect true federalism, Ohanaeze spokesman said, “They have asked the President to convoke a national dialogue. They wouldn’t have finished everything today but the truth of the matter is that without true federalism, this country will not last long.”