The Southern Senators and members of the House of Representatives have commended the Southern governors’ ban on open grazing and call for restructuring.
The governors, had at their meeting in Asaba, the Delta State capital, banned open grazing and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take bold steps in restructuring the country.
However, the northern socio-political group, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), stated that some of those advocating restructuring were bent on the disintegration of the country.
The group also called on the President to address the nation and convene a national dialogue.
The National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Emmanuel Yaw, in an interview in Kaduna on Wednesday, faulted the call for restructuring, but supported other resolutions of the southern governors.
Yawe stated, “On restructuring, the ACF believes that before we take a decision on this, we should agree on whether Nigeria should remain one country before deciding on what
“Our position on this is informed by the fact that some of the advocates of restructuring are at the same time advocating the dissolution of Nigeria. Are they believers in Nigeria at all? We must all agree to let Nigeria be, before we move forward.”
He said there was nothing wrong for the President to address Nigerians on matters affecting the country.
The forum also said it supported the ban on the open grazing, noting that the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, an umbrella body of the herders, had called for the establishment of ranches.
The ACF spokesman also said, “There is nothing wrong with their call on the President to talk to Nigerians. As a politician he should jump at any opportunity to communicate with the electorate.
“On the issue of ban of open grazing, I don’t think there is problem here with the stand of the ACF.
“At our last National Working Committee meeting in Kaduna the national leader of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACABAN) spoke to us at length.
“He said he and his organisation had decided that the only way forward ,and that in the interest of MACABAN, was to embark on ranching and that they were waiting for government’s policy.
“If MACABAN wants open grazing banned, not only in the southern part of Nigeria but all over Nigeria, who are we to say otherwise?
“On the issue of dialogue, the ACF has always believed in this if the aim of the dialogue is to promote the unity and progress of the whole country, our forum will hold dialogue with any state and group of people that share our cherished ideals of unity, justice, peace and progress.”
The southern caucus in the House of Representatives, in a statement on Wednesday commended the governors on the demand for true federalism and restructuring.
The statement was signed by the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu; Deputy Majority Leader, Peter Akpatason; Deputy Majority Whip, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha; Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu; Deputy Minority Whip Adesegun Adekoya; Dolapo Badaru, Jimoh Ojugbele and Femi Fakeye, “on behalf of the southern members in the House of Representatives.”
Justifying the ban on open grazing, they said the Federal Government should provide “alternative and modern livestock management that does not constitute a security and economic challenge to the nation.”
Also, the Southern Senators Forum, in a statement on Wednesday, hailed the resolutions of the governors.
They urged the governors to immediately approach the leadership of the National Assembly for necessary legislative input to give their decisions, the required legal backing.
The statement was titled, “Insecurity: Southern senators commend and endorse the resolutions of the southern governors; urging them to work with the National Assembly for optimal results.”
It was jointly signed by the SSF Chairman, Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti); Secretary General, Mathew Urhoghide (Edo) and Publicity Secretary, Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu).
The senators commended the governors for being emphatic on the issues of restructuring, state policing and the jettisoning of archaic traditional grazing methods, “which fall short of global best practice standard and a potential threat to our national cohesion and peace.
“As insecurity continues to take a toll on the country and subjecting many to kidnapping and killing, the Southern Senators Forum has commended governors from the region for taking a firm position on burning national issues, including banning open grazing of cattle.
“The Senators submitted that such deft and unanimous policy would help in reining in those hiding under cattle grazing to unleash terror of kidnapping and killing on the residents of the region.”
The Senators noted that southern farmers were losing hundreds of millions of naira to plundering of food crops through encroachments on farmlands and exposing the region to famine and acute food scarcity .
They added, “With this uniform resolve by our governors to initiate no-open grazing policy, the region will return to its peaceful and agriculturally self-sufficient status it had assumed even long before Nigeria’s amalgamation in 1914.
“We salute the governors for ruminating on the expediency and the need for speedy restructuring of the highly lopsided Nigerian nation, saying this will also help to remove the venom that has permeated the land on account of alleged neglect of certain sections of the country.
“Finally, the Southern Senators Forum encourages the governors to swiftly follow up on their resolutions by immediately approaching the leadership of the National Assembly.”
But the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, Ali Ndume, faulted the decision of the governors’ to ban open grazing.
Ndume, who is representing the Borno South Senatorial District in the upper chamber, stated this while addressing journalists in Abuja on Wednesday.
Ndume also advocated the suspension of salary payment to workers and other political office holders so that the money could be used to tackle the security challenges in the country.
Also, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra backed the ban on open grazing.
MASSOB, in statement on Wednesday, by its National Leader, Uchenna Madu, described the decisions of the governors on critical national issues as highly commendable.
Meanwhile, there were indications on Wednesday that Southern Governors’ Forum had directed state houses of assembly in the South to enact law backing the ban on open grazing.
The Chairman of South-South Governors’ Forum and Governor Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, said that every state would enact its law to enforce the open grazing ban.
The governor, who spoke through the State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, stated this on Wednesday in Asaba.
He said, “Every state will put in place a law that will be used to prosecute anybody that goes against the ban. The governors of the south have agreed with their people that the right thing to do is to ban open grazing.”
The Chairman of the Southern Governors’ Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu, on Wednesday explained why the forum placed a ban on open grazing.
Akeredolu, who presided over the Asaba meeting of the governors on Wednesday, during an interview on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said the decision was not new.
“It is not an entirely new issue; most of the governors have placed a ban on open grazing in their states before the meeting. Most of the states have passed laws on open grazing. Virtually all of us have passed that law.
“We felt that this open grazing must stop. It is causing a lot of problems particularly between the herders and the farmers. Whether we like it or not, times have changed and this must change. We must adopt a modern system of animal husbandry.
“In this day and age, they cannot continue taking cows by foot from Kano to Port Harcourt,” he said.
The governor said the Federal Government needed to throw its weight behind state governments that wanted to set up ranches, adding that this would benefit the herders who were exposed to dangers as they roamed with their cattle.
He added, “At the meeting, we referred to what Governor (Abdullahi) Ganduje said. It was clear that he is also against open grazing. He says it does not augur well and the herders also do not benefit from it. There is no development, they are exposed to dangers.”
On its part, the Middle Belt Forum described as unnecessary the call by the southern governors for the President to convene a fresh national dialogue .
The National Publicity Secretary of the MBF, Dr Isuwa Dogo, who spoke to one of our correspondents in Jos on Wednesday, also faulted the call for the President to address the nation.
He insisted that asking the President to convene a fresh national dialogue would do the country no good, saying there were no issues that the fresh national dialogue would discuss that had not been addressed by the 2014 national conference .
According to the MBF spokesman, what the southern governors ought to have done was to insist that the President implement the provisions of the 2014 National Conference.
Dogo said “I think the southern governors did not get it right when they asked the President to address the nation. What purpose will that serve when Nigerians want him to take actions to address the challenges, they are facing which he has not done?
“And again, the southern governors did not get it right when they called on the President to convene a national dialogue. What happened to the 2014 national conference that captured all the contending issues in the country and what should be done to address them? With the exception of these observations, every other resolution reached by the southern governors during their meeting in Delta State is acceptable to us in the Middle Belt Forum.” – Punch.