*Explains why open grazing ban won’t work
Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State has said that it was not a must that the next president of Nigeria must come from the southern part of the country.
The governor, who reiterated his support for power to shift to the southern part of the country in an interview on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, yesterday, however, warned his colleagues that politics was a game of numbers.
Zulum spoke against the backdrop of the declaration by southern governors in Lagos on Monday that power should shift to the south.
Rising from the meeting, the governors in a communique read by chairman of Southern Governors’ Forum and governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, had said: “The forum reiterates its commitment to the politics of equity, fairness and unanimously agreed that the Presidency of Nigeria be rotated between southern and northern Nigeria and resolved that the next president of Nigeria should emerge from the south.’’
But Zulum in the interview clarified that the Southern governors were not wrong in calling for power shift to their region, since it would promote unity, but frowned on the use of the phrase ‘’must.’’
He said: “I have said it times without number that I am of the view that the presidency should go to the south in the year 2023 because the unity of our country is very important.
“Secondly, inclusivity is very important. Thirdly, I am in the APC. Six or seven years ago, APC had zoned the presidency to northern Nigeria based on the agreement that in 2023, the presidency should go to the south.
“But again, this is politics. We are supposed to meet and discuss this issue among ourselves, among the political class.
“This statement that people are saying that the president must go to the south, I want them to remove the word must.”
The governor also said the prohibition of herders from grazing openly in some states in the country won’t work until the insecurity situation as well as the socio-political and economic dimensions of the crisis is addressed.
Many states in Nigeria, including the 17 southern states, had banned open grazing in their region, to curb cases of rape, killing and kidnapping traced to some unscrupulous elements who masquerade as herdsmen.
Despite stiff opposition and criticisms by many northern bigwigs, the Southern governors met on Monday to set September 1, 2021, for the promulgation of the anti-open grazing law in their states.
But speaking on the programme, Governor Zulum said the socio-political and economic dimensions of the insecurity in the country and the insurgency war in the North-East were fast spreading to other parts of the country and must first be addressed.
He said: “We have to address the socio-political and economic dimensions of this crisis which is very important because there is increasing poverty in the sub-region; that is something that will trigger insurgency.
“There is increasing food insecurity in the sub-region because food insecurity is the worst form of insecurity and that is why the Borno State government has been advocating farming in the last two years. Farmers should be allowed to go to their farm lands.
“The Nigerian military should create the enabling environment for farmers to go to their farmlands so that they can cultivate their lands.
“It is no longer sustainable for our internally displaced persons living in IDP camps and host communities to receive food and non-food items from donor partners. People must earn their livelihood if we want this insurgency to come to an end.
“The issue of the socio-political and economic dimensions of this crisis is very important; addressing farmers-herders is also very important, to ensure that the enabling environment has been created to the herders is very important.
‘’This issue of stopping open grazing and others will not work unless we sit down and address all these issues squarely.’’
Zulum, who noted that peace was gradually returning to the North-East after over 11 years of Boko Haram war, lamented that the Nigerian Army does not have the lethal weapons, fighter helicopter and numerical strength to fight the aggressors.
He said: “The Nigerian Army of last 30 years, of last 40 years is better than the Nigerian Army of now a days. It is sad, it is very sad. We supposed to have gone far in terms of development but if you look at it, the equipment we have in the last 40 years are still in existence.
“Yes, Mr President has procured some equipment, the equipment are coming but when will they arrive. That is a serious thing that they should look into because we need to address this issue immediately otherwise the issue will consume the greater part of the nation.
“The Nigerian Army should not relax by our statement that there is peace in Borno State, that there is gradual return of peace in the North-East.
“Yes, what we are saying is true but that does not mean the problem is over; they have to work hard to ensure that the remnants of the insurgents are cleared in the Lake Chad, are cleared in the Sambisa Game Reserve.”
Zulum also stressed the need for the Nigerian Army to engage mercenaries and leverage on external collaboration with neighbouring countries like Niger Republic, Chad, Cameroon, amongst others, to win the insurgency war which has claimed thousands of lives in the last 11 years.