…Agree to ban open grazing in Southern Nigeria
…Call for convocation of national dialogue
…Insist on federal character
…Reiterate Southerners’ commitment to Nigeria’s unity
…Express concern over Oshodi-Apapa expressway gridlock
…Buhari approves new security measures for South-East, South-South
…Military tactics’ll no longer be publicised—NSA
…Don’t be selective in handling situations, PANDEF tells FG
By Festus Ahon, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Davies Iheamnachor
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.
The security chiefs, who were joined by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, noted that President Buhari had presided over the security council meeting three times in two weeks, adding that it “shows the premium the President and the administration has placed on security issues.”
The acting IGP said the security council meeting, which had taken place three times during the last 11 days, assessed the situation in the country, particularly in South-East and South-South, as it affects law and order.
He said: “We have some measures which we have outlined and have been approved by the Council and we will see how we can change the narrative within the quickest possible means to restore law and order and restore peace in that area.
“We solicit all law abiding citizens to work with us to identify and deal with the situation. That is that, I may not go into the details of how we will do that.”
Security chiefs got marching orders from Buhari — NSA
On his part, the NSA, Gen. Monguno said the President gave marching orders to security heads to deal with the emerging problems physically.
He said: “The first two meetings were inconclusive, but today’s meeting is the final in the three meetings. Again, Mr. President’s concern at the growing trend of insecurity has been highlighted and the meeting, basically, was briefed by the National Security Adviser, the Chief of Defence Staff and the Inspector-General Police.
Enablers of crime
“I briefed the meeting on strategic issues in relation to security, while the Chief of Defence Staff briefed on operational issues, and Inspector General of Police briefed on constabulary matters. On my part, I briefed council on the enablers of crime and the need to find quick responses, with a view to mitigating the growing threats to society.
“These enablers were discussed in detail and Mr. President has already given direction on how to deal with them, specifically issues of drug abuse as propellants for crime, how to make the criminal justice system much more effective, as well as look at issues of unemployment, which, of course, the Federal Executive Council, FEC, had given an approval, through previous memos on how to get 100 million people out of poverty. That was also discussed.
“Again, the President has given direction on how to make these things effective. Already, the Nigeria Communication Commission, NCC, has been given certain instructions on how to deal with this, but by and large, the council has agreed that the level of insecurity in the country, especially in the last one month, is something that has to be addressed with the immediacy.
‘’Of course, the Chief of Defence Staff has been working with the service chiefs and the recommendations they’ve made to the Council are already being handled.”
Irabor on his part, said far reaching decisions had been made to boost the operations of the security agencies. He said: “No doubt, far-reaching decisions were made. On our part, just as the National Security Adviser indicated, I briefed on various measures that the Armed Forces, in partnership with other security agencies, have taken to stem the tide of insecurity across the country.
“The council was pleased with the actions and, of course, the prayers that were made, which council has also graciously undertaken to look into. These have to do with manpower development, training and equipment issues, and thankfully, the glow on my face should, of course, give you an indication as to the graciousness of the National Security Council, in relation to the briefings that we have given in this regard. I believe that going forward, we shall be translating that and it will have some great impact on the security disposition across the country.”
Stop selective approach to issues, PANDEF tasks FG
Reacting to the federal government’s move last night, the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, advised it to stop being selective in handling issues that affect the country.
The National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Hon Ken Robinson, in Port Harcourt yesterday, noted that the problem that had affected the country was the selective approach of FG to handling issues.
Robinson said: “The federal government should not be selective. This is one of the problems of this country. The the main issue that is causing disaffection, dissolution and the hopelessness in the country, is the bias manner issues are being handled.
“Why the selective setting up of security arrangements for South-South and South-East? What of North-West and North-Central and North-East?
“The country needs a new security arrangement and we said when the new service chiefs appointed, it was not about the new service chiefs, it is about the whole security architecture of the country.
“Students in schools and innocent Nigerians are being kidnapped and livelihoods are being decimated in the North-West, people are being killed in the North-Central and, of course, Boko Haram is having a field day in the East.
“Why the selective approach to set up special security for the South-South and South-East?Nigeria is at war and the Commander-in-Chief should realize this and begin to act dispassionately and address the insecurity in the country.
“We are not in anyway happy with what is happening. The lives of every Nigerian is important. PANDEF has long before now condemned the attacks on security formations and we restate that position and condemn it.
“It is unacceptable. But the Nigeria government must stop this selective approach in handling situations in he country. Nigeria is one country and the security system needs to change. The attitude of the President and those in government needs to change.
“Nigeria is in trouble and the sooner we realize it and begin to act decisively in a manner that will satisfy everyone, the better for us.”