The governors of all 17 states in Southern Nigeria have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently address Nigerians on the insecurity plaguing the nation.
The Southern governors also called on the president to convoke a national dialogue to address widespread secessionist agitations in the land.
These were contained in a 12-point communique issued at the end of a meeting of the Southern Governors Forum held in Asaba, the Delta State capital on Tuesday.
Chairman of the forum and Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu read the communique.
The governors had last week met virtually at the instance of Akeredolu, Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa and Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, as chairmen of the governors’ forums in the Southwest, South-South and Southeast respectively.
Akeredolu said that Tuesday’s meeting reviewed the situation in the country generally and focused on the current security situation, agitation and restructuring, prospect for inter-state collaboration and partnership as well as on the incidence of COVID-19 pandemic.
He disclosed that the “forum affirmed that the people of southern Nigeria remain committed to the unity of Nigeria on the basis of justice, fairness, equity, oneness and peaceful coexistence between and among its people with focus on attainment of shared goals for economic development and prosperity.”
Akeredolu, who disclosed that the forum resolved that open grazing of cattle be banned across Southern Nigeria, explained that the forum observed that the activities of armed herders, criminals and bandits in the southern part of the country have 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.
“The meeting noted that development and population growth has put pressure on available land and increased the prospect of conflict between migrant herders and local population in the south. Given this scenario, it becomes imperative to enforce a park for open grazing in the south including cattle movement to south by foot.
“The meeting recommended that the Federal Government should support willing state to develop alternative and modern livestock management system.
“The meeting agreed that the progress of the nation requires an urgent and bold step taken to restructure the Nigerian Federation leading to the evolution of state police, review of revenue formula in favour of Sub-Nationals and creation of other institution which legitimately advance and commitment to and practice of true federalism.
“The meeting recommended that the view of the widespread agitation among our various peoples for greater inclusiveness in existing governance arrangement, the Federal Government should convoke a national dialogue as a matter of urgency
“The meeting recommended that in deference to the sensitiveness of our various peoples, there is need to review appointment into Federal Government agencies including security agency to reflect federal character as Nigerians overall population is heterogeneous.
“The meeting resolved to foster cooperation among southern states.”
Akeredolu said that the meeting expressed concern on the continued gridlock on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway and the chokehold it has 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 implication of another lockdown of the country and therefore suggested greater coordination and cooperation between federal and state government in involving strategies for dealing with the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“The meeting expressed grave concern on the security challenging currently plaguing the nation and strong urged Mr President that Mr President should address Nigerians of 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,” the communique further read.