STATE OF THE NATION: Southern governors shun political differences, ban open grazing, call for national confab, demand state police, kick against lopsided appointments

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From Left: Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo; Dapo Abiodun of Ogun, Akwa Ibom Deputy Governor, Moses Ekpo; Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra, Douye Diri of Bayelsa, Ebonyi’s David Omahi, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, Chairman, Southern Governors Forum and Govenor of Ondo, Rotimi Akeredolu; Senator Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, Nyesom Wike of Rivers, Babajide Sanwolu of Lagos, Enugu State’s Ifeanyi Ugwanyi, Imo Deputy Governor, Placid Njoku; Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia in a photograph after Southern Governors meeting at Government House, Asaba.

Governors of Southern Nigeria put politics aside today, May 11, 2021 at Asaba, Delta state capital and took far reaching decisions in which they spoke the minds of citizens of the region.
Rising from a meeting, the governors without mincing words literally told President Muhammadu Buhari the following:
1. That his appointments are lopsided and must be corrected to show national diversity.
2. That open grazing is banned in Southern Nigeria and that the ban will be strictly implemented effective immediately in the entire south.
3. That Buhari should convene a national conference.
4. That State police be immediately allowed.
5. That ports be made operational in other towns aside Lagos.

In the communiqué read by Chairman of Southern Governors Forum, Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, they said that prevailing insecurity in the country had presented severe security challenge such that citizens were unable to live normal lives, including pursuing productive activities.

The Forum stated that the precarious security situation in the country had become a threat to food supply, adding that the development and population growth had put pressure on available land and increased prospects of conflict between migrating herders and local populations in the South.

The governors called on the Federal Government to support willing States to develop alternative and modern livestock management systems.

They agreed that the progress of the nation required that urgent and bold steps be taken to restructure Nigeria’s federation to encourage evolution of state police, revenue allocation formula review in favour of sub-national governments and creation of institutions which would legitimately advance commitment to and practice of true federalism.

The governors also urged the Federal Government to convoke a national dialogue in view of widespread agitations among various peoples “for greater inclusiveness in existing governance arrangements’’.

“The governors recommended a review of appointments into Federal Government agencies, including security agencies, to reflect federal character as Nigeria’s overall population is heterogenous.

“The governors 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 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,’’ they stated.

The Forum also expressed concern on the economic implications of another lockdown on the country over COVID-19 pandemic as announced by the Federal Government on Monday, and called for greater coordination and cooperation between federal and state governments in evolving strategies for dealing with the pandemic.

“The Southern Governors also expressed very grave concern on the security challenge currently plaguing the nation and strongly urged President Muhammadu Buhari to address Nigerians on the challenges and restore the confidence of the people.”

Those who attended the meeting were Governors Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo, Nyesom Wike of Rivers, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti and Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, who was the host.

Others were Governors Godwin Obaseki of Edo, Douye Diri of Bayelsa, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Dave Umahi of Ebonyi, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, Willie Obiano of Anambra and Deputy Governor of Akwa-Ibom, Mr Moses Ekpo and his Imo counterpart, Prof. Placid Njoku.

Governors of Osun and Cross River, Isiaka Gboyega and Prof. Ben Ayade were absent at the meeting.
Below is full text of the Southern Governors’ communiqué
COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE MEETING OF THE GOVERNORS OF SOUTHERN NIGERIA IN GOVERNMENT HOUSE, ASABA, DELTA STATE, ON TUESDAY, 11TH MAY, 2021

At its meeting held today, 11th May, 2021, the Southern Governors Forum reviewed the situation in the nation generally and focused on the current security situation, agitations/restructuring, prospect for inter-state collaboration and partnerships as well as on the incidence of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Rising from the meeting, the Forum:

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. Consequently, the meeting 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 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 challenge 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; and expressed gratitude to our host, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for his generosity and hospitality.

Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN
Governor, Ondo State

His Excellency His Excellency
Dr. Victor Okezie Ikpeazu Chief Emmanuel Udom
Governor, Abia State Governor, Akwa Ibom State
His Excellency His Excellency
Willie Obiano Senator Diri Duoye
Governor, Anambra State Governor, Bayelsa State
His Excellency His Excellency
Prof. Ben Ayade Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa
Governor, Cross Rivers State Governor, Delta State
His Excellency His Excellency
Engr. Dave Umahi Godwin Obaseki
Governor, Ebonyi State Governor, Edo State
His Excellency His Excellency
John Olukayode Fayemi Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi
Governor, Ekiti State Governor, Enugu State
His Excellency His Excellency
Senator Hope Uzodimma Babajide Sanwo-Olu
Governor, Imo State Governor, Lagos State
His Excellency His Excellency
Dapo Abiodun Isiaka Adegboyega Oyetola Governor, Ogun State Governor, Osun State
His Excellency His Excellency
Oluwaseyi Abiodun Makinde Ezenwo Nyesom Wike Governor, Oyo State Governor, Rivers State

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