…Ohanaeze, ACF, Afenifere, PANDEF, MBF throw weight behind Southern govs

…Issue raised by Southern govs in line with our positions all along —Ohanaeze

…We’re in support of govs —ACF

…They’re just waking up to reality but we’re happy—Afenifere

…We laud Southern govs’ decision; open grazing’s outdated —PANDEF

…Southern govs should be emulated by their northern colleagues —MBF

…Ensure your ban on open grazing is backed by legislation, ADF tells govs

…Southern senators, Reps back govs, urge them to work with NASS for results

…Why Southern Govs banned open grazing—Akeredolu

…Southern govs confused, should face IPOB, leave herders alone —Miyetti Allah

By Anayo Okoli, Regional Editor, South-East, Dapo Akinrefon, Henry Umoru, Peter Duru, Levinus Nwabughioghu, Peter Okutu, Luminous Jannamike & Davies Iheamnachor

Regional socio-political and cultural groups across the country yesterday threw their weights behind resolutions reached by Southern governors in Asaba, Delta State, on Tuesday, especially as it relates to ban on open grazing.

They include Ohanaeze Ndigbo in the South-East, Arewa Consulative Forum, ACF, in the North, Afenifere in the South-West, the pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, in the South-South geo-political zones.

Similarly, senators and members of the House of Representatives from the southern part of the country also backed the resolutions of the governors.

It will be recalled that the 17 governors from the south had raised a 10-point solution to the nation’s security problems, one of which was the banning of open grazing of cattle in the soutthern part of the country.

Supporting the governors in their action, Ohanaeze Ndigbo commended them for coming together to tackle raging issues about to tear the country apart.

We’re in support — Ohanaeze

Ohanaeze, particularly, praised the governors for restating the decision of states to ban open grazing and urged that appropriate laws be enacted to give legal teeth to the pronouncement.

According to the group, this is a wake up call on Buhari’s government to urgently resolve the country’s security challenges.

The apex Igbo socio-cultural body said all the issues raised and adopted at the Asaba meeting by the governors were in alignment with its position.

“All the issues raised by the governors are issues Ohanaeze Ndigbo has been canvassing for a long time,” it stated.

According to its spokesman, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, the issues of restructuring, judicious implementation of federal character, dialogue, ban on open grazing, among others, have been on the front burner of Ohanaeze’s agitation for equity, justice and fairness.

Ogbonnia said Ohanaeze was very happy that the Southern governors had risen up to the challenge and urged them not to relevant, assuring them of the support of Ohanaeze.

No problem on this — ACF

On its part, Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, in a statement signed by National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, said:

“On the issue of ban of open grazing, I don’t think there is much problem here with the stand of the ACF.

“At our last National Working Committee, NWC, meeting in Kaduna, the national leader of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, spoke to us at length. He said he and his organisation have decided that that is the only way forward.

“He said  it is in the interest of MACABAN to embark on ranching and that they were waiting for governments policy on this. If MACABAN wants open grazing banned, not only in the southern part of Nigeria but all over Nigeria, who are we to say otherwise? We are  therefore, in support of the stand of MACABAN & the Southern  governors.

“On the issue of dialogue, 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 dialogue with any state and group of people that share our cherished ideals of unity, justice, peace and justice.

“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 structure Nigeria should take.

‘’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.’’

Reacting to the resolution of the Southern Governors’ Forum to ban open grazing, acting leader of Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, said the governors had woken up to their responsibilities.

Govs waking up to reality — Adebanjo

He said: “They are just waking up to reality; they should have done that long ago. They should have done it when Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State banned open grazing.

‘’Ortom was harassed but he passed the law at that time; that is when all of them should have done it. I am very happy about it that they are now alive to their responsibilities, however, belated.”

PANDEF lauds Southern govs

Also reacting yesterday, the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, lauded the southern governors for their resolutions in Tuesday’s meeting.

PANDEF said the declaration of end to open grazing in the Southern states was apt, noting that the practice was outdated.

National Publicity Secretary, PANDEF, Ken Robinson, said in Port Harcourt that the meeting of the governors was timely, adding that the move would cement togetherness in this part of the country.

Robinson said: “With the goings-on in the country, we had expected them to meet before now but it is a good thing that they have met. It is a welcomed development. This would not only foster cooperation among the governors and people of the southern states but also strengthen the nation’s democracy.

“We have also seen the communique that they issued. It is   very commendable. Their resolutions re-emphasized our positions, particularly, on restructuring, open grazing, and the alarming state of insecurity.”

Robinson said the stand of the governors on open grazing had been the position of the South-South leaders, stressing that  it was in tandem with the vision of the people.

He said: “PANDEF has repeatedly said that open grazing outdated and should not be allowed to continue in a society like ours today.

“Those who are involved in he business should realize this and employ other ways of doing the business as it is done in other developed or developing countries. The days of open grazing are over and the sooner those who are in that business realize it, the better for all of us.”

He expressed regrets that the people of this part of Nigeria lived their lives in fear, adding that it was not good for the development of the country.

He said: “Citizens now live in fear and are no longer able to freely pursue various livelihoods across the country  due to the security situation.

“The governors also accentuated the issue of skewed appointments into federal government agencies, including security agencies.

“Recall that PANDEF National leader, Chief Edwin Clark, and 15 other prominent Nigerians are in court with the Mr. President, over the serial breaches of the federal character principle in appointments by this administration.

“It is, therefore, pleasing and reassuring that the governors discussed these issues at their meeting and made those far-reaching resolutions.

“The positions they have taken are in tandem with the thoughts and expectations of the people of Southern Nigeria. So, PANDEF commends them for the elaborate decisions reached. ‘Kudos’ to the Southern governors.”

Northern govs should emulate their Southern colleagues — MBF

Also, the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, commended the Southern governors for their resolve to ban open grazing in that part of the country and urged the Northern governor to emulate their southern counterparts.

National President of MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, who extolled the governors yesterday in Makurdi, said the resolution which came timely, had also vindicated Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state who he said deserved the commendation of all Nigerians for his forthrightness on the issue of ranching to end the bloody herders crisis.

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He said:  “The resolutions of the Southern governors, particularly the ban on open grazing, is a perfect one. It is also timely. Though it should have come even much earlier but for the reason that many Nigerians did not understand the issues involved.

‘’But those of us in the Middle Belt had already known much earlier that under the cover of grazing, lots of mercenaries have been brought into Nigeria and they are killing Nigerians. And in doing that they use the narrative of herders and farmers conflict.

‘’There is nothing like herders and farmers conflict. It is that people who are foreigners have been brought in to kill Nigerians, take over their land and change the demography.

“That has been our stand and we are being justified, we are being vindicated by what the Southern governors have done. They have come to the realization that there is no way Nigeria can move forward and enjoy peaceful coexistence until everybody ranch his animal.’

Exercise caution in your decisions, utterances, NEF tells Southern govs

Reacting yesterday, Northern Elders Forum, NEF, urged Southern governors to exercise caution in their decisions and utterances.

NEF spokesman, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who noted that the country was facing trying times, reiterated NEF’s call for the rights of  Northerners communities in the South not to be abridged in any form.

He said:  “The meeting and its resolutions are clearly major developments in the context of our current circumstances as a nation.

“Our Forum prefers to study developments of this nature with the responsibility they deserve,and make its positions known.

“What we must say at this stage is that all leaders must exercise great caution in terms of their decisions and utterances.

“It is tempting to pander to galleries, but leaders set the pace and direction. They do not follow.

“We should also renew our appeal that members of Northern communities living in the South, including Fulani, should not have their lawful rights abridged.

“These are very trying times. We hope the President will read the import of the decisions of this meeting very carefully and respond appropriately.’’

Get laws to back your stand, Alaigbo tells govs

In a similar vein, Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, also yesterday supported the Southern governors but urged them to ensure that their ban of open grazing of cattle was backed by appropriate legislation.

In a statement by ADF signed by the President, Prof. Uzodinma Nwala and others, the group further commended “the seventeen governors of Southern Nigeria for their courageous and strategic move in banning open grazing   of cattle in Southern Nigeria.”

The statement read: “ADF recalls that it had been in the forefront of the agitation for the banning of open grazing   in Igboland since 2015.

“ADF urges the Southern governors to ensure that their resolution against open grazing of cattle was backed by the appropriate legislation, which is the most potent strategy to prevent the monstrous and murderous Fulani Herdsmen from overrunning their states

“The law to be passed in the State Houses of Assembly should be accompanied by clear madalities, instrumentalities and machineries for their enforcement. The effectiveness of this move depends on the synergy between the Governors, the Legislators and the people including the civil society organizations.

“ADF wishes to draw the attention of the Southern Governors and Legislators to the obvious fact that our fate in the current struggle for survival is intricately interwoven with the fate of our fellow compatriots in the Middle Belt   and Southern Kaduna.

Work with us, Southern senators tell govs

Southern lawmakers in the National Assembly also threw their weights behind the resolutions of the Southern governors.

In the Senate, southern senators said the governors’ move would help nip in the bud herders-farmers clashes and senseless kidnapping as well as continued     killings, kidnapping, raping and destruction of property of people of southern extraction.

The senators, who hailed the step taken by the governors, said the governors’ decision would serve as a buffer to   wanton destruction of farmlands, kidnappings   and carnages.

A statement jointly signed by the Chairman, Secretary General and Publicity Secretary of Southern Senators Forum, SSF,  Senators Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti), Matthew Urhoghide (Edo) and Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu), respectively yesterday, the Southern senators also urged the governors to work in synergy with them to achieve maximum results.

The statement read:  “As insecurity continues to take a toll on the country and subjecting many to kidnapping and killing, the Southern Senators Forum, SSF, has commended Governors from the region for outrightly 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.

“Southern Governors   Forum (SGF), had at its meeting held in Asaba, Delta State Capital, on Tuesday, unanimously passed a verdict prohibiting open grazing in the region to checkmate herders-farmers clashes and senseless kidnapping as well as   killings of Nigerian citizens of southern extraction.

According to them, “At this critical   point of our national life when the economy was being bedeviled by galloping inflation, youth unemployment and insecurity, food security is very crucial to mitigate the effects of these diverse evils on the citizens.

“Available records have shown that attaining food security status would remain a mirage in the south owing to ravaging effect of outdated livestock grazing policy being unleashed on farmlands by some unscrupulous herders.

“Most appalling were the seemingly unabated  kidnapping, raping and killing of our people by suspected herdsmen, who have become bandits heating up the system.

“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.

“Southern Senators Forum encouraged the governors to swiftly follow up on their resolutions by immediately approaching the leadership of the National Assembly, with a view to working   with the two arms of the parliament to ensure that their well articulated positions on the state of the nation, especially as it relates to restructuring, state policing and the jettisoning of archaic traditional grazing methods.

‘’These grazing methods fall short of global best practice standard and a potential threat to our national cohesion and peace, are thoroughly and decisively addressed through the ongoing constitutional review.”

Southern Reps warn those opposing resolutions

In the House of Representatives, southerners in a statement signed by 22 lawmakers on behalf of their Forum in Abuja yesterday, warned those opposing the resolutions to desist from doing so.

The lawmakers who signed the statement included the deputy majority leader of the House, Hon. Peter Akpatason, the Deputy Chief Whip, Hon. Nkiruka Onyejiocha, the minority leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu and the deputy minority leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu.

Others were Hon Adesegun Mujid Adekoya; Hon Dolapo Badaru; Hon Jimoh Ojugbele; Hon Femi Fakeye; Hon. Hon Segun Odebunmi; Hon. Mayowa Akinfolarin; Hon. Olufemi Bamisile; Hon. Oluwole Oke; Hon. Victor Nwaokolo; Hon. Kingsley Chinda; Hon. Essien Ekpeyong Ayi; Hon. Fred Agbedi;

Hon. Francis Charles; Hon. Patrick Asadu; Hon. Lynda Ikpeazu; Hon. Sylvester Ogbaga;Hon. Nkem Abonta and Hon. Jerry Alagboso.

The lawmakers pledged to deploy all legislative instruments to ensure speedy achievement of the reforms and constitutional amendments that would  guarantee restructuring and the practice of true federalism in the country.

The statement read:   “The members of the House of Representatives from the 17 southern states of the federation, after due considerations, unanimously support the resolutions of the Southern Governors’ Forum on the demand for true federalism, restructuring as well as the worsening insecurity in the country, among others.

“This position is in firm restatement of our insistence that our nation must exists and governed on the platform of democratic tenets of social justice, equity, fairness, mutual respect, true federalism, rule of law and constitutional order, and we are ready to deploy all legislative instruments at our disposal for actualization.

“Against this backdrop, the members of the House of Representatives from the South, without regard to any other affiliations, firmly support our governors on the immediate ban on open cattle grazing across the Southern Nigeria.

“We hold that such is a sure step towards checking the infiltration of bandits, armed herders and terrorist elements which has heightened security challenges with escalated killings and bloody attacks on innocent citizens, while crippling social life, economic activities and food production in the region.

“We, therefore, support the recommendation that the Federal Government should provide alternative and modern livestock management that does not constitute a security and economic challenge to the nation.

“The platform of Southern members in the House of Representatives also support our governor’s restatement of the demand for true federalism through restructuring that will lead to the devolution of power, creation of state police, review of resource control and revenue allocation formula, as well as strict adherence to federal character principle in federal appointments in the shared interests of the federating states.

“As lawmakers, we affirm that such is the only guaranteed way to ensure fairness, justice, equity to engender national stability, productivity and peaceful co-existence and we support an urgent national dialogue in that regard.

“Furthermore, our platform commends our governors for the concern for the asphyxiation of economic activities in the Southern Nigeria resulting from the continued congestion in ports in Lagos and the gridlock on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway.

“This challenge has led to loses in billions of naira to businesses and other economic activities in the industrial and commercial activities of not only in the Southern Nigeria but the nation at large.

“We, therefore, firmly back the demand for the establishment and activation of other ports in other states of the federation, particularly in the south where such services are in very high demand.

“As lawmakers, our platform assures of our readiness to deploy our legislative instruments to ensure speedy achievement of the reforms and constitutional amendments that will guarantee a restructuring towards the practice of true federalism in our country and we are rallying our colleagues from other parts of the country in this direction.

“We urge all Nigerians to see the larger picture ensure that all hands are on the deck to move our nation to the right direction.

“Our platform applauds our governors for their patriotism and courage while commending Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State for hosting his colleagues in their quest for solutions at this critical time in our nation history.”

Ban on open grazing in the South not new — Akeredolu

Also, chairman of the Southern Governor’s Forum and governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, said yesterday that the decision to impose a ban on open grazing in the south was not new and that most governors had placed such ban in their states before the meeting on Tuesday.

Akeredolu, who spoke on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said:  “This message is not new. We looked at what is happening in our respective states. 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.’’

The governor said the federal government needed to throw its weight behind state governments that want to set up ranches, noting that this will benefit the herders exposed to dangers as they roam with their cattle.

“At the meeting, we referred to what Governor 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.

“That’s why we suggested that the Federal Government should intervene to help these herders. The federal government should give money for ranches to be created. That is why it is part of our recommendation that states who want to create ranches be supported,”

He also disclosed that the decision of the Southern governors to ban open grazing comes three months after the Nigerian Governors Forum did the same.

In February 2021, the Nigerian Governors Forum, representing all 36 states in the country, said it had reached a consensus on the “need for the country to transit into modern systems of animal husbandry that will replace open, night, and underage grazing in the country.”

Southern govs confused, says Miyetti Allah

Meanwhile, the National Secretary of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Alhassan Saleh, said yesterday  that the ban on open grazing of cattle by Southern governors was an ‘empty policy’.

Saleh said: “The governors are confused and mischievous, are herders the problem of this country? Are they Biafra people killing people up and down, burning police stations?

“They are confused, or are they not confused? If they can’t address the terrorist activities being perpetrated by Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, and his Igbo terrorist group called IPOB, I think they are really confused.

‘’If they are not confused, then they are mischievous.  Is there anything like secret grazing? Let the governors go ahead to continue instigating their mobs to keep killing herdsmen. Can they comply with an empty policy? Where are the ranches?

“Are herdsmen the problem of this country? Are they the ones looting the treasury? They should leave the herders alone. They should stop killing innocent herders.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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