By Jonathan Ugbal
Governor Benedict Ayade of Cross River Satet and his deputy, Professor Ivara Esu were absent as Governors of the 17 southern States of Nigeria met in Asaba, the Delta State capital and announced their position on open grazing and restructuring among other pressing issues.
Mr. Ayade has over the years missed several of such meetings. Most recently, was the virtual meeting held last Tuesday at the instance of Governors Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) and David Umahi (Ebonyi) who are chairmen of the South-West, South-South and South-East Governors Forum respectively.
The virtual meeting was attended by 15 out of the 17 Governors in the Southern region of Nigeria under the aegis of the Southern Governors Forum (SGF) where they agreed to meet on Tuesday in Asaba for another meeting that will harmonise their positions several issues of concern.
The meeting lasted for over two hours at the Government House in Asaba and at the end, a communique was produced. It was read by the Chairman of the SGF and Governor Rotimi Akeredolu.
Clashes between farmers and herders as well as restructuring have been on the front burner for years now and the Governors noted that development and population growth had put pressure on available land and increased the prospects of conflict between migrating herders and local populations in the South, hence their decision to ban open grazing.
All other Governors were present except those of Imo, Hope Uzodimma and Akwa Ibom, Emmanuel Udom who sent their deputies, Professor Placid Njoku and Moses Ekpo respectively.
Those present were Governors Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Willie Obiano (Anambra), Douye Diri (Bayelsa), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), David Umahi (Ebonyi) and Godwin Obaseki (Edo).
Others were Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Rotimi Akerodolu (Ondo), Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Nyesom Wike (Rivers).
Also absent was Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun State whom like Mr. Ayade had his name appended to the communique issued at the end of the meeting despite their absence.
Asides restructuring and banning open grazing, the forum also took positions on COVID-19, insecurity, state police, revenue allocation formula, secessionist agitations, federal character and ports development.
Read the full communique below…
At its meeting held today, 11th May, 2021, the 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
Chief Emmanuel Udom, Governor, Akwa Ibom State
Willie Obiano, Governor, Anambra State
Senator Diri Duoye, Governor, Bayelsa State
Prof. Ben Ayade, Governor, Cross Rivers State
Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor, Delta State
Engr. Dave Umahi, Governor, Ebonyi State
Godwin Obaseki, Governor, Edo State
John Olukayode Fayemi, Ekiti State Governor,
Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Governor, Enugu State
Senator Hope Uzodimma, Governor, Imo State
Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor, Lagos State
Dapo Abiodun, Governor, Ogun State
Isiaka Adegboyega Oyetola Governor, Osun State
Oluwaseyi Abiodun Makinde, Governor, Oyo State
Ezenwo Nyesom Wike Governor, Rivers State
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