Southern Govs ban open grazing

*Insist on true fiscal federalism, constitutional reforms, state police

*Ask Buhari to convoke a National Dialogue to address areas of conflict

By Williams Orji, Myke Uzendu and Blessing Ibunge (Port Harcourt)

Determined to restore rule of law and halt rising insecurity, especially in southern Nigeria, state governors under the aegis, Southern Governors Forum (SGF), on Tuesday banned open grazing of cattle across the southern states of the country.

This was as they asked President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently address the myriad of challenges facing the nation, and ensure that the country is run on true federalist parameters.

In a communique at the end of their meeting in Asaba, Delta State, the governors decided to completely ban open grazing in the Southern part of the country due to what they described as “the infiltration of armed herders and bandits among the cattle herders”.

They also called for the enthronement of state police and a total restructuring of the polity.

The meeting was attended by 13 governors and two deputy governors (Akwa Ibom and Imo), with the notable absentees being the governors of Cross River and Osun States.

The chairman of the SGF and Ondo State Governor, Chief Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), who read the communique expressed the forum’s “grave concern on the security challenges currently plaguing the nation, and strongly urged President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently address the challenges and restore the confidence of our people”.

They 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”.

Akeredolu declared that following from threat to life and property posed mainly by armed herders and their allies, “the meeting resolved that open grazing of cattle be banned across Southern Nigeria”.

They insisted that for the nation to make any further meaningful progress, “urgent and bold steps should 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.

“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.”

The governors present were: Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), and Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Douye Diri (Bayelsa), and Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo).

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