Seventeen Southern States governors of Nigeria met on Tuesday in Asaba, the Delta State capital, with a resolution to ban all forms of open grazing in the southern states of the country.
Although, the governors came short of calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to reshuffle his cabinent and military chiefs to reflect the federal character against the backdrop of the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural nature of Nigeria, they urged the President to ensure that the sensibilities of the people were respected and reflected in federal appointments.
These were among the resolutions taken at the end of the over four-hour closed-door meeting and captured in a communiqué read out to newsmen by the Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN).
While affirming the commitment of the peoples of Southern Nigeria to “the unity of the country on the basis of fairness, equity and oneness”, the governors expressed grave concern about the security challenge plaguing the country and charged Mr President to act decisively to address the situation.
Specifically, the governors of the sounthern states called on President Muhammadu Buhari to convoke a national conference to address the insecurity and other challenges in order to restore the confidence of the citizenry in the Nigerian geo-political entity.
The communiqué said 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.”
Similarly, the southern 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).”
They recommended “that the Federal Government should support willing states to develop alternative and modern livestock management systems.”
The governors of Southern Nigeria also “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.
They f”urther 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.”
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 and Udom Emmanuel, respectively, were represented by their 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), Nyesom Wike 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 Ugwuanyi of Enugu, and Willie Obiano of Ananbra.