*17 governors want President to convoke confab on insecurity
By Jake Aimuan
At a meeting of governors of states of Southern Nigeria held on Tuesday in Asaba, the Delta State capital, 17 state governors deliberated on burning national issues, particularly widespread insecurity across the country, and expressed worry that things could worsen unless urgent steps were taken to address the situation.
situation to ban all forms of open grazing in the southern states of the country.
While the governor’s affirmed the commitment of the people of Southern Nigeria to “the unity of the country on the basis of fairness, equity and oneness”, they expressed serious concern about the security challenges threatening the country and charged Mr President to take urgent steps to address the situation.
The governors, therefore, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to convoke a national conference to address the insecurity and other challenges facing the nation in order to restore the confidence of the people in Nigeria.
A communiqué containing the resolutions taken at the end of the closed-door meeting, which lasted about four hours, was presented to newsmen at the Government House Asaba by the Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN).
The governors urged Mr President to organise a national conference on the worrisome security situation in Nigeria.
They also called for implementation of the ban on open grazing particularly in the Southern part of the country.
The governors “recommended that in view of the 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, it said.
The communiqué stated that the 17 governors “observed that incursion of armed herders, criminals, and bandits into the Southern part of 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.”
Furthermore, the governors “noted 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.
“Given the scenario, it becomes imperative to enforce the ban on open grazing in the South (including cattle movement to the South by foot)” adding “that the Federal Government should support willing states to develop alternative and modern livestock management systems.”
They further “recommended that in reference to the sensitivities of our 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.”
On the issue of anxiety about the possible resurgence in the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, they said, “The meeting 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 socio-economic challenge posed by persistent gridlock on the Apapa-Oshodi expressway in Lagos State also drew the attention of the governors and they recommended: “the activation and establishment of ports in other states of the federation in order to create new jobs and promote socio-economic activities in the country.”
All but two of the 17 member-states of the forum, namely Ben Ayade of Cross River and Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun states, participated in the meeting.
The governors of two of the states, Imo and Akwa Ibom, Hope Uzodimma, respectively, were represented by their respective deputy governors.
Host Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, was joined at the meeting by the governors of Ondo and acting chairman of the group, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), Wike Nyewsom of Rivers, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, Godwin Obaseki of Edo and Senator Douye Diri of Bayelsa states.
Other governors at the meeting were Seyi Makinde of Oyo, Babajide Sanwo-olu of Lagos, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun, Dave Umahi of Ebonyi, Ifeanyi Ugwanyi of Enugu, Willie Obiano of Ananbra. and Senator Hope Uzodimma of Imo.