-To Convene National Dialogue, Make Apapa Gridlock Top Priority
Following the security challenges in different parts of Nigeria, Southern governors on Tuesday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to address Nigerians on the position of things so as to restore the confidence of the citizens.
The governors under the platform of Southern Nigeria Governors Forum also called on the Federal Government to convoke a national dialogue as a matter of urgency to address widespread agitations by the people in different parts of the country.
Speaking to journalists after a meeting held at the Government House, Asaba, capital of Delta State on Tuesday evening, the seventeen governors in the South-West, South-South and South-East geo-political zones, announced a total ban of open grazing in the South, including cattle movement to South by foot, and advised the Federal Government to support willing states to develop alternative and modern livestock management systems.
The meeting was attended by the host Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti); Chairman, South-West Governors Forum, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Chairman, South-East Governors Forum, Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun).
Others are Governors Douye Diri (Bayelsa), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Willie Obiano (Anambra), Godwin Obaseki (Edo) and Benedict Ayade (Cross River). Akwa Ibom and Imo governors were represented by their deputies, Moses Ekpo and Placid Njoku respectively.
The governors in the communiqué read by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State affirmed that the people of Southern Nigeria remain committed to the unity of Nigeria on the basis of justice, fairness, equity, oneness and peaceful co-existence between and among its people.
The communiqué reads in part: “At its meeting held today, the Southern Nigeria Governors Forum reviewed the situation in the nation generally and focused on the current security situation, agitations and restructuring, prospect for inter-state collaboration and partnership, as well as incident of COVID-19 pandemic.
“Rising from the meeting, the Forum affirmed 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 the focus on the attainment of shared goals for economic development and prosperity.
“Secondly, the Forum observed 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.
“Third, the meeting noted that development and population growth has put pressure on available land and increased the prospect of conflict between migrating herders and local population in the South.
Given this scenario, it becomes imperative to enforce the ban on open grazing in the South, including cattle movement to the South by foot.
“The meeting recommended that the Federal Government should support willing states to develop alternative and modern livestock management systems.”
Stressing the need for restructuring of Nigeria, the Southern governors demanded evolution of State Police, review of revenue formula in favour of sub-nationals and true federalism.
“The meeting agreed that the progress of the nation requires that urgent and bold steps be taken to restructure Nigeria Federation leading to the evolution of State Police, review of revenue allocation formula in favour of sub-national governments and creation of other institutions with legitimately advance our commitment to and practice of true federalism.
“The meeting recommended that in view of the widespread agitations among our various people for greater inclusiveness in existing governance arrangements, the Federal Government should convoke a national dialogue as a matter of urgency.
“The meeting recommended that in deference to the sensitiveness of our various people, there is need to review appointments into Federal Government agencies including security agencies to reflect federal character as Nigeria overall population is heterogeneous.
“The meeting resolved to foster cooperation among Southern states and the nation at large. In this connection, Secretaries to the Governments of the Southern States are to work together to develop and institutionalize a mechanism to foster this cooperation which will advance the comparative economic advantages and other interests of the Southern states.
“The meeting expressed concern on the continued gridlock on Oshodi-Apapa Expressway and the chokehold it has exerted on the nation’s economy being the sole outlet from Apapa Wharf. The meeting therefore recommended the activation and establishment of ports in other states of the federation to create new jobs and promote socio-economic activities in the country.
“The meeting expressed concern on the economic implication of another lockdown on the country and therefore suggested greater coordination and cooperation between federal and state governments in evolving strategies for dealing with COVID-19 pandemic.
“The meeting expressed grave concern on the security challenges 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.
“The meeting expressed gratitude to our host, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for his generosity and hospitality,” the Southern governors stated in the communiqué issued after the Southern Nigeria Governor Forum.