The Southern Governors Forum in a meeting held on Tuesday affirmed its resolve to tackle the current security situation and agitations/restructuring that have caused recent unrests in some parts of the country. Part of their resolve was also focused on the ban of open grazing of cattle across the states following the incursion of armed herders, criminals and bandits into the Southern part of the country which according to the Forum has presented a severe 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.
The meeting which was hosted by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa held at the Government House, Asaba, Delta State and had in attendance members of the forum including 13 other governors; They are Governor Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Dr Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), and Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos). Others are Douye Diri (Bayelsa), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), David Umahi (Ebonyi), and Willie Obiano (Anambra).
In a communique issued on Tuesday, the forum agreed that urgent and bold steps must be taken in the direction of restructuring 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 their commitment to and practice of true federalism. The statement read in part 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 on the South by foot).”
To resolve the growing widespread agitations among the citizens it was recommended that a national dialogue spearheaded by the Federal Government to foster inclusiveness in existing governance arrangements is urgently needed. Also, issues raised at the meeting bordered around the continued gridlock on the Oshodi – Apapa Expressway noting that despite being the sole outlet from the Apapa Wharf it has excessive pressure on the nation’s economy. This led to the recommendation that ports should be established and activated in other states of the Federation which will foster job creation and promotion of socio-economic activities in the country.
The forum, therefore, affirmed its commitment to unite Nigeria on the basis of justice, fairness, equity and oneness and peaceful co-existence with a focus on the attainment of shared goals for economic development and prosperity. Furthermore, in its recommendation reiterated that in deference to the sensitivities of our various people, there is a need to review appointments into Federal Government Agencies (including Security Agencies) to reflect the federal character as Nigeria’s overall population is heterogeneous. Meanwhile, following grave concerns on the security challenges currently plaguing the nation, the forum urged President Muhammadu Buhari to address Nigerians on the challenges of insecurity and restore the confidence of our people.