Politics

Southern governors’ fighting chance

Each time a governor fights back tears over security situation in his state, he is merely giving vent to the frustrations and remonstrations of his counterparts in the country. In recent times, governors of Benue, Ebonyi, Niger and Borno states have watched in near despondency as Boko Haram and herdsmen decimate their states.

 

Besides the rampaging attacks in the North, Middle Belt, South-East, activities of herdsmen in some states of the federation raise great doubt about the professionalism and impartiality of the police. Reports have it that they hardly take action when informed about herdsmen attack, forcing the governors to resort to Amotekun or Ebubeagu.

 

Indeed Nigerian governors are facing a very tough time is not in dispute, serving as Chief Security Officers of their state, yet all security apparatus are under the control of the federal government. Like their contemporaries in the North, they contend with crass insecurity and over-centralised security architecture along with economic and social challenges.

 

Hence at the meeting of 17 governors that make up 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.

 

The governors are Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), their chairman, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN (Ondo); Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia); Mr. Willie Obiano (Anambra); Sen. Douye Diri (Beyelsa), Godwin Obaseki (Edo) and David Umehi (Ebonyi).

 

 

Others are Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Seyi Makinde (Oyo),

 

Nyesom Wike (Rivers); Hope Uzodimma (Imo) and Emmanuel Udom (Akwa-Ibom) but represented by their deputies, Prof Placcid Njoku and Mr. Moses Ekpo respectively. They jettisoned their political party divide and summoned the courage to come together in the home of an opposition PDP, in what has now been termed as ‘Asaba Accord’, to stand for the unity, peace and progress of the country in a 10-point communiqué, remain as indivisible body?

 

Although Governors Gboyega Oyetola (Osun) and his Cross River state counterpart, Prof. Ben Ayade, were absent physically, they were said to be with them in spirit. Besides, the scourge of insecurity, the governors rejected the call for secession, flayed the undue incursion by herders and banned open grazing in the geo-political zones of the Southern Nigeria.

 

Their chairman, Governor Akeredolu, who read the communique said the governors have expressed a very grave concern on the security challenge currently plaguing the nation and strongly urged that President Muhammadu Buhari should, as a matter of urgent public importance, address Nigerians on the challenges of insecurity and restore the confidence of the people.

 

 

While they 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 coexistence between and among its peoples with a focus on the attainment of shared goals for economic development and prosperity; they lamented 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 They 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 has become imperative to enforce the ban on open grazing in the South (including cattle movement to the South by foot) and recommended that the Federal Government should support willing states to develop alternative and modern livestock management systems. In deference to the sensitivities of our various peoples, and concerns expressed by various groups in the country, the governors amplified the need to review appointments into Federal Government Agencies (including security agencies) to reflect federal character as Nigeria’s overall population is heterogeneous.

 

By the same token, they resolved 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;

They 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 their people. However, some politicians like the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives were quick to condemn the governors’ resolutions.

 

They claimed that open grazing was not responsible for the worsening insecurity in the Southern part of the country. But Governor Ortom and the Northern Elders’ Forum lauded the action of the governors.

 

Indeed, Ortom, who has been victim of herdsmen attacks, was quick to declare that anyone who stands against the governors’ position is an enemy of Nigeria. Observers have lauded the governors’ position, urging them to continue to maintain a common position on issues of common interest from time to time.

 

The horrible security situation in the country further brought to the fore the need to devolve power and guarantee state police via an amendment of the 1999 Constitution and ensure that headship of the respective security agencies reflect national character.

 

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