FOLLOWING the worrisome spate of insecurity in Nigeria, stakeholders across the country have been concerned and meeting on how to proffer solutions to the daunting security challenges facing the nation. Governors in the South under the aegis of Southern Governors Forum, which reconvened virtually last week after the group went into comatose several years ago, met in Asaba on Tuesday.
Several police formations have been attacked and policemen killed in the last few weeks across the country, especially in Akwa-Ibom, Imo, Anambra, and others in the Southern part of Nigeria. It was confirmed on Monday that the residence of the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Gambari in Aso Rock was attacked on Sunday night by hoodlums.
Suffice to say that the peace and security of the country is under serious threat. The Asaba meeting which lasted for over four hours was attended by 15 out of the 17 Governors in the region and far-reaching decisions were reached aimed at tackling the deteriorating security situation in the country before it results in full-blown anarchy.
The Governors who appeared to be disturbed with the impending anarchy started arriving at the Delta State Government House around 11 am for the meeting which commenced around 12 noon and ended some minutes past 4 pm. They, however, went for lunch at about 2:48 pm in their host Governor’s (Dr Ifeanyi Okowa) Lodge and returned for the meeting at about 3 pm.
Among the decisions reached were the ban on open grazing in the South, restructuring of the country, respect for Federal Character, the sanctity of the unity of the country, State Police and convocation of a national dialogue. Chairman of the Southern Governors Forum and Governor of Ondo State, Arakunri Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN read the 12-point communique issued at the end of the meeting.
The Governors in the communique “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.
“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.
“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.”
Conclusively, an urgent step is required to tackle the problem of insecurity that is threatening the peaceful coexistence of the country. All Nigerians, especially those privileged to be in government should join hands to handle this very worrisome situation. Those in attendance include the host, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, Willi Obiano of Anambra, Douye Diri of Bayelsa, Godwin Obaseki of Edo and David Umahi of Ebonyi.
Others are Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo, Seyi Makinde of Oyo, Nyesom Wike of Rivers. While Hope Uzodimma of Imo was represented by his deputy, Prof Placid Njoku, Udom Emmanuel of Akwa-Ibom by his Deputy, Mr Moses Ekpo, Governors Gboyega Oyetola of Osun and Ben Ayade of Cross River States were absent.