Southern governors
L-R: Kayode Fayemi, Nyesom Wike, David Umahi and Ifeanyi Okowa during the Southern governors meeting in Asaba on Tuesday

OBINNA EZUGWU

Governors of the 17 states of Nigeria under the aegis of Southern Governors Forum (SGF), have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to address the nation over rising spate of insecurity in the country, just as they decried increasing incursion into the region by militant herdsmen.

The governors who made the demand in a communique issued at the end of their meeting in Asaba, Delta State capital on Tuesday, also urged the Federal Government to initiate a national dialogue as a matter of urgency and insisted on the ban of open grazing across Southern Nigeria

The governors in the 12 point communique read by the Chairman of Southern Governors Forum, Governor Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, “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.”

The governors said they have, “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 the 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 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; and expressed gratitude to our host, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for his generosity and hospitality”.

Those in attendance are the host, Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta; his Enugu State counterpart, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, Willi Obiano of Anambra, Douye Diri of Bayelsa, Godwin Obaseki of Edo and David Umehi of Ebonyi.

Others are: Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, Seyi Makinde of Oyo, Nyesom Wike of Rivers.

While Hope Uzodimma of Imo was represented by his deputy, Prof Placcid Njoku, Udom Emmanuel of Akwa-Ibom by his Deputy, Mr Moses Ekpo, while Governors Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State and Ben Ayade of Cross River State were absent