Elders in Igboland under the aegis of Igbo Elders Consultative Forum (IECF), have warned governors of the Southeast zone against any attempt to cede land to federal government for grazing by herdsmen.
The elders decried what it called delay by some states in the zone to pass their anti-open grazing laws, as resolved by the recent meeting of the Southern Governors’ Forum, vowing that no antics would make the region give out its ancestral land for grazing.
Chairman of the elders forum and former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife who stated this at a press conference in Abuja on Monday, cautioned the five governors in the zone against striking any deal with the Federal Government in respect of leasing land for cattle grazing, stating that such agreement will never be honoured once the chief executive leaves office.
While reaffirming the commitment of the Igbo to one Nigeria, the elders said they would not, however, allow any plot to enslave the Igbo in their own land.
The forum expressed concern over alleged plot by some persons to scuttle the resolution of the southern governors that the 2023 presidency be zoned to the South, backing sanctions against any Igbo son and daughter “that are associated with this deceit and betrayal of people’s will and popular desire.”
Ezeife noted that the decision of the southern governors to ban open grazing was a demonstration of their determination to enthrone democracy, rule of law and good governance for enthronement of a conducive, stimulating and challenging business environment, as well as an orderly society where security of life and property irrespective of ethnic, religious and occupational differences is supreme.
According to Ezeife, “it is expected that every state in the South East should not only pass the anti-open grazing law within this period, but also put in place appropriate mechanisms for immediate implementation, otherwise the laudable objective of enacting the law for the purposes of minimising conflicts between famers and herders, as well as promoting ranching and other modern pastoral methods, will be defeated.
“Our people have stated clearly that our ancestral land should never be given to anybody and there is no grammar in governance that can make it happen. Anybody who wants to waste money should give money to incumbent governors, but when those governors go, nobody will follow the agreement reached. Therefore, our governors are warned. Reluctance or even arrogant refusal to comply with that decision is considered as a coup against the masses of Southern Nigeria.
“While we commend Enugu and Abia States for their efforts to empanel legislation on anti-open grazing, we urge the other states in the South, especially the South East and other lgbo-speaking states of the South South to put in place, necessary machinery to comply with the southern governors’ resolution or be liable for aborting the popular will and desire of our people.”