By Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Dennis Agbo
•Request meeting with federal security chiefs over herdsmen’s threats
•Buhari doesn’t discriminate among Nigerians—Presidency
•Adds climate change worsening historical herders, farmers’ clashes
ENUGU— SOUTH East governors met in Enugu yesterday, and resolved to stop movement of cattle in the zone.
The governors also requested to meet with security chiefs over fear of possible spillage of herdsmen killings into the South East zone.
This came on a day the Presidency pleaded with Nigerians and the international community to exercise restraint in making inflammatory remarks over farmers/herders clashes, saying President Muhammadu Buhari does not discriminate against any people or religion.
Rising from the meeting which held at Government House, Enugu, the governors said they were afraid that the killings in Plateau, Taraba, Zamfara and other parts of the Middle Belt might spill into their domains.
Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, David Umahi of Ebonyi State, who read the communique at the end of meeting, said: “South East Governors have noticed increased challenges in the movement of herdsmen from one state and region to another with resultant effect of massive destruction of farmland with attendant clashes with farmers.
“South-East Governors have been spending huge funds in settling farmers whose farms and crops are destroyed. We, therefore, request for an emergency meeting in South-East with federal security chiefs, farmers and herdsmen to stop the movement and prevent the clashes.”
The governors also restated their disdain for proposed ranching in states, saying the Federal Government was already aware that the South-East occupied little space of land and has no accommodation for ranching of any sort.
On the issue of restructuring the country, the governors appreciated Ohanaeze Ndigbo’s enormous job on the matter and reiterated its earlier stand that “restructuring is the only way forward for Nigeria.”
The forum approved a partnership with E-Health Africa for health interventions and establishment of world class health facilities in all states of the zone.
It also approved to support the setting up of an industrial and Infrastructural Development Bank to fast-track capital flow for rapid development of the region, as a private initiative.
Governor Umahi said the forum had dialogue with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, NNPC, on the security of pipelines, disclosing that the company would soon recommence pumping of fuel to Enugu depot for distribution to states in the zones.
Buhari doesn’t discriminate — Presidency
Meanwhile, the Presidency yesterday pleaded with Nigerians and the international community to exercise restraint in making inflammatory remarks over farmers/herders clashes, saying President Muhammadu Buhari does not discriminate against any people or religion.
It also reiterated that farmers/herders clashes had been and an age-long matter, even as it noted that President Buhari was making every effort to put an end to the animosity between farmers and herders.
In a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, the Presidency noted that climate change had become one of the contributing factors to the recent upsurge in clashes between farmers and herdsmen.
The statement read: “The Presidency is appealing to all citizens as well as members of the international community to refrain from spreading false stories and inflammatory statements concerning the recent herders-farmers’ clashes.
“The Nigerian government is working closely with state governments and the security services as well as international partners in order to resolve this ongoing issue.
“The clashes between herders and farmers are historical. The causes of these confrontations are varied and complex.
“Climate change, specifically the drying up of the Chad Basin, has led to more pressure on the population in the North of Nigeria, which further compounded the problem.
“As President Buhari indicated lately, there is evidence of involvement of some politicians using criminals to perpetuate the killings.
“Climate change is an issue of global significance and the Nigerian government is determined to continue working closely with its neighbours in order to ensure that a long-term solution can be implemented.
“The Federal Government makes no distinction among the population and works tirelessly to protect all Nigerian people.
“We are strongest as a nation when we are united and it is through unity that we will overcome this challenge.”