GOVERNORS of Nigeria’s 17 southern states plan to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari as soon as he gets back from his trip to France in a bid to find a way to get the federal government to implement the resolutions they recently agreed to at their Asaba summit.
Last week, the Southern Governors Forum met in the Delta State capital Asaba, where it agreed on a series of measures to combat the growing insecurity in the country. In the communique issued at the end of the summit, it was agreed that there will be a ban on open grazing across southern Nigeria, that the nation needs to be restructured and states should be allowed to create local police forces.
While the measures were broadly welcomed by civil society groups, several prominent northern politicians like senate president Senator Ahmad Lawan have opposed the proposals. There are now fears that the country will once again be divided along ethnic lines with northern politicians trying to sell the Asaba Declaration as some sort of anti-north gang-up.
In a bid to get round this problems, the Southern Governors Forum intends to meet with President Buhari as soon as he gets back from the four-day African Finance Summit currently taking place in Paris. They plan to present the resolutions reached at the Asaba meeting to the president, so they can become official federal government policy.
One Delta State official said: “The forum would definitely meet with the president but the time the meeting will hold has not been revealed by them. However, it is sure that the meeting with the president will hold.”
Meanwhile, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (Macban) has demanded the establishment of two or three models of ranches as part of measures to put an end to open grazing. Macban general secretary Baba Ngerzema, begged southern governors to reconsider their ban on open grazing and urged the federal government to assist state governments in establishing model ranches.
According to Mr Ngerzema, the governors should consider the plights of pastoralists that would be affected by their declaration, saying some of them were born and brought up in those southern states. He said Macban was never opposed to settlement of pastoralists throughout the country but that there must be a model of settlement for the pastoralists to see and emulate.
Mr Ngerzema said: “For the interest of peace and unity of the country, the southern governors should consider the plights of the pastoralists as bonafide citizens while agitating for the anti-open grazing policy because some of these herders are born and brought up in those states. In order not overheat the already fragile security situation of the country, let them all temper justice with mercy.
“We call on state governments to unify purposes in their desire for peace. The pastoralists we have are those that practise the primitive system they inherited as the only option available for them.”