Worried by the rising wave of insecurity in the country, Southern governors yesterday met in Asaba, the Delta State capital, and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to address the nation on the issue.
It will be recalled that the 17 governors of the South, operating under the aegis of Southern Governors Forum, had reconvened virtually last week, several years after the Forum had been in limbo.
Those in attendance include the host, Governors Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta; Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia; Willy 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; and 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.
The governors met on a day President Muhammadu Buhari also, for the third time in two weeks, met with service chiefs and heads of other security agencies, and approved new security measures to curtail insecurity in the South-East and South-South geopolitical zones of the country.
‘Convene national dialogue now’
Rising from the meeting which started at about noon and ended at about 4:20pm, the Southern governors urged the Federal Government to convene a national dialogue as a matter of urgency and insisted on the ban of open grazing across Southern Nigeria.
They also expressed concern over the continued gridlock on Oshodi – Apapa Expressway and the chokehold it has exerted on the nation’s economy, being the sole outlet from Apapa Wharf.
The governors in the 12-point communique read by chairman of Southern Governors Forum and governor of Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, “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 communique read: “Governors 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. Governors 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.
Call for restructuring
“Governors 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.
“Governors 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 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 Oshodi- Apapa Expressway and the chokehold it has exerted on the nation’s economy, being the sole outlet from Apapa Wharf.
‘Activate ports in other states’
“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.
“It expressed very grave concern over the security challenge currently plaguing the nation and strongly urged that Mr. President address Nigerians on the challenges of insecurity and restore the confidence of our people. The meeting expressed gratitude to our host, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, for his generosity and hospitality.
Buhari okays new security measures for S-East, S-South
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday rose from a security meeting with his service chiefs and other security heads, with an approval for new security measures to curtail insecurity in the South-East and South-South.
The new measures were adopted at the end of the security meeting presided over by the President at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The National Security Adviser, NSA, Major General Babagana Monguno, retd, also said a decision had been taken not to publicise measures to be deployed to tackle insecurity in the country henceforth for more effective results.
The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, who addressed State House correspondents on the approval of new measures, did not, however, disclose the measures to be taken.
New drug control measures
The President also approved a memo presented by the National Security Adviser, NSA, on the control of drugs, which he described as enablers of insecurity but did not also elaborate.
However, the NSA said the meeting stressed the need to address the security challenges in the country, particularly those that had arisen in the last few months.
He said President Buhari is concerned about the worsening security situation in the country and had given marching orders to deal with the security issues. He also said the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, was given instructions on how to deal with crime reporting system. The council agreed that the level of insecurity in the country, especially in the last one month, must be reversed.
The acting IGP, Usman Baba, flanked by the NSA and the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, said far-reaching decisions on how to deal with the heightening security situation in the country were taken.