The Southern Senators’ Forum has commended steps taken by state governors from the region to stem the rise in insecurity.
The forum disclosed this on Wednesday in a statement jointly signed by its Chairman, Secretary General and Publicity Secretary, Senators Opeyemi Bamidele (APC-Ekiti), Matthew Uroghide (PDP-Edo) and Chukwuka Utazi (PDP-Enugu).
The forum lauded the governors for outrightly taking a firm position on burning national issues, including banning the open grazing of cattle.
The senators said that such a unanimous policy would check those hiding under cattle grazing to unleash terror of kidnapping and killing on the residents of the region.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the governors at a meeting in Asaba, on Tuesday, unanimously passed a verdict prohibiting open grazing in the region among other positions.
The senators said the step would help secure the region and return it to the path of peace.
The senators lamented how farmers in the region were losing millions of Naira to plundering of food crops through encroachments on farmlands thereby exposing the region to famine and acute food scarcity .
“At this critical point of our national life when the economy is being bedeviled by galloping inflation, youth unemployment and insecurity, food security is very crucial to mitigate the effects of these diverse evils on the citizens.
“Available records have shown that attaining food security status would remain a mirage in the south owing to ravaging effect of outdated livestock grazing policy being unleashed on farmlands by some unscrupulous herders.
“Most appalling is the seemingly unabated kidnapping, raping and killing of our people by suspected herdsmen, who have become bandits heating up the system.
“With this uniform resolve by our governors to initiate no-open grazing policy, the region will return to its peaceful and agriculturally self -sufficient status it had assumed even long before Nigeria’s amalgamation in 1914,” they said.
They also saluted the governors for the expediency and the need for speedy restructuring of the country.
They said it would help to remove the incessant agitations over alleged neglect of certain sections of the country.
The forum stated that only equity and justice in the running of the country would wipe out ethnic tension, restore peace and stability and end ethnic agitations
They, therefore, encouraged the governors to swiftly follow up their resolutions by immediately approaching the leadership of the National Assembly with a view to working together.
They said the National Assembly would ensure that their positions on restructuring, state police and the ban on open grazing were addressed through the ongoing constitution review.
Below is the communique issued at the end of the Asaba meeting of the Southern Governors:
COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE MEETING OF THE GOVERNORS OF SOUTHERN NIGERIA IN GOVERNMENT HOUSE, ASABA, DELTA STATE, ON TUESDAY, 11TH MAY, 2021
At its meeting held today, 11th May, 2021, th e Southern Governors Forum reviewed the situation in the nation generally and focused on the current security situation, agitations/restructuring, prospect for inter-state collaboration and partnerships as well as on the incidence of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Rising from the meeting, the Forum: affirmed that the peoples 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 peoples with a focus on the attainment of shared goals for economic development and prosperity; 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; 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 this scenario, it becomes imperative to enforce the ban on open grazing in the South (including cattle movement to the South by foot); recommended that the Federal Government should support WILLING States to develop alternative and modern livestock management systems; 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; recommended that 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; recommended that in deference to the sensitivities of 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 heterogenous; resolved to foster cooperation among the Southern States and the nation at large; expressed concern on the continued gridlock on the 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 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; 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; and expressed gratitude to our host, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for his generosity and hospitality.
Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN
Governor, Ondo State
Dr. Victor Okezie Ikpeazu
Governor, Abia State Governor
Chief Emmanuel Udom
Akwa Ibom State
Governor, Anambra State
Senator Diri Duoye
Governor, Bayelsa State
Prof. Ben Ayade
Governor, Delta State
Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa
Governor, Cross Rivers State
Engr. Dave Umahi
Governor, Ebonyi State
Governor, Edo State
John Olukayode Fayemi
Governor, Ekiti State
Governor, Enugu State
Senator Hope Uzodimma
Governor, Imo State
Governor, Lagos State
Governor, Ogun State
Isiaka Adegboyega Oyetola
Governor, Osun State
Oluwaseyi Abiodun Makinde
Oyo State Governor
Ezenwo Nyesom Wike Governor