By Salim Yunusa
Ondo State Governor, Chief Olurotimi Akeredolu, has said there is no chance in hell that President Muhammadu Buhari would ignore the call by Southern Governors’ Forum for a national dialogue, restructuring and respect for the principle of federal character in his appointments.
Akeredolu spoke last night and said he was sure that Buhari would examine the issues raised by the governors and act appropriately.
The 17 governors of the southern parts of the country had congregated in Asaba on Tuesday to deliberate on the state of the nation and agreed to end open grazing and called on the president to address the nation on the worsening security situation in the polity.
Asked what the governors would do if the president ignored them, the Ekiti State governor, who presided over the Asaba meeting, said although he did not envisage that, the chief executives of the southern states would cross the bridge when they get there.
He said the conclusions of the forum were not new, popular and acceptable to most of their counterparts the north.
Reacting to question about the possibility of Northern governors opposing the decision of their Southern counterparts, Akeredolu said: “If Northern governors ever go against the lines we have spoken, I Know that their ranks and files would be broken. We have a number of Northern governors who support our position. I give an example with the governor of Kano State who had over and over again, vehemently opposed open grazing. “He is a Fulani man and he continually says that open grazing is not in the interest of his own people and that to continue in this mode of animal husbandry in this age and time, is also not in the interest of the Nigerian economy.”
Akeredolu further said: “The Kaduna State governor had said he had enough land and we are saying that the federal government should support any state that want to do ranching. Government should support them so that people can keep cows there and do their business from there.”
Akeredolu was of the view that Northern state governors would not oppose the decision on open grazing, stressing that Benue and Kogi states were also in support of putting an end to open grazing.
He said disclosed that many states were facing security challenges because of open grazing, including the herders.
The Ondo State governor argued that modern system of animal husbandry had shifted from open grazing to ranches, which he added, must be supported and adopted by the federal government in the interest of all Nigerians.
Speaking about restructuring, Akeredolu said the federal government should see the need for restructuring, because there would also be division in the rank and file of government officials, since a good number of them believed in restructuring Nigeria.
“I know of a number of my colleagues in the North, who also believed that there must be state police because there have been danger all over the country and we cannot afford to continue with one command. Everybody is talking of multi-policing and all of us have agreed. So, I do not see any reason why anybody will be against restructuring,” Akeredolu said.
He explained that the 17 Southern governors would take the decision reached at the meeting, to their various states for implementation, adding that the governors would also need to have a consensus with members of the National Assembly on the decisions reached at the meeting of the Governors’ Forum.
“As governors, we are elites of the society and if we can come together, we should be able to stem the tendencies of insecurity that we are facing in the country today. The challenge is clear; it is glaring even to a blind man that we have problems that need urgent solution and that is why we has to take those decisions,” Akeredolu further said.
On whether the planned national dialogue would not go the way of the previous ones, Akeredolu explained that there was nothing that the governors have said about national dialogue that was new.
He said it was agreed that there should be several conferences and discussions on restructuring and constitution review.
According to him, “There are so many papers that exist today on restructuring and we are saying there must be a national dialogue which will not be a jamboree but must involve ethnic nationalities and a number of other persons where we will collectively take a decision from the number of papers that will be presented at such conference.”
“The issue of revenue allocation has been debated over and over again. We need to have that put in proper perspective also, and if all of us agree, I am not sure there is any state in the country today that will say it is comfortable the way the federal government continues to control the resources of the country, while the states continue to suffer,” Akeredolu said, adding that there is too much money and power at the centre, which ordinarily should have gone to states for project execution.
He stressed that the state police, which most of the governors have agreed to, cannot be run on the meager money going to the state.
“We need to have a revenue formula that will help the states to have sufficient financial independence to run their own state police. I am sure that all of us will come together to discuss it. We want to take all the discussions and ratify them before implementation,” Akeredolu said.