We erroneously thought many of them would chicken out when the chips were down. We were genuinely scared to the marrows. That they would cave in to the Fulani hegemony breathing down heavily on them.
Despite the obvious heat, they never did. We were glad, we were wrong. They stoically damned the consequences. They elected to run with the people and their aspirations.
The attendance was quite impressive. It was by no means encouraging. It birthed a robust new beginning, a new dawn and new era.
Yes! They arrived Asaba, Delta State, with all seriousness on Tuesday. They were early enough. And went straight into the business of the day. No precious time to waste on banters. That is for another day.
That Southern Nigeria Governors’ Forum (SNGF) meeting made a profound statement. It was loud and resounding. Still reverberating across the land. It was a communiqué like never seen before.
It shocked some. It made others to jump for joy. Some others clapped and danced. Different stroke! It did not come easy. All the same, it happened the very way we wanted, though unexpected.
The Asaba gathering was a radical departure from our ugly past. They were focused and collective in their pronouncement. No dissenting voice. None of them could risk that.
They were on spot. They nailed it hard. They drove their 12-point agenda home with all the strength they could muster. They couldn’t have done otherwise. There was no viable alternative.
For the first time in recent times, they deliberated with sincerity of purpose. They dropped their parochial political togas. And came out with durable and doable Asaba Accord.
They refused to be intimidated. They could not be cajoled either. They convincingly stood to be counted. They were neither perturbed nor disturbed.
Theirs was a positive response. They had the people, their first constituents on their minds. They could not have acted better.
All issues were laid bare on the table. They were meticulously and honestly dissected. The governors did great justice to them. They were fair without fear. Great kudos.
This Asaba Accord was all encompassing and holistic. It addressed the past, the present and the future. This is the communiqué. And in their own exact words:
“At its meeting held today, 11th May, 2021, the Southern Governors Forum reviewed the situation in the nation generally and focused on the current security situation, agitations/restructuring, prospect for inter-state collaboration and partnerships as well as on the incidence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rising from the meeting, the Forum:
“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;
“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;
“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;
“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;
“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 heterogeneous;
“Resolved to foster cooperation among the Southern States and the nation at large;
“Expressed concern on the continued gridlock on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway (Lagos) and the chokehold it has exerted 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 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;
“Expressed very grave concern on the security challenge currently plaguing the nation and strongly urged that Mr President should address Nigerians on the challenges of insecurity and restore the confidence of our people.”
Let’s support and encourage them. Let’s spur them into more effective and positive actions. That is all they need now.
The governors gave us a pleasant surprise. We honestly did not expect them to go that far. Really, they never said anything new. They only dared to voice it out one more time. And that should be credited to them.
The southern legislators in the National Assembly have strategic roles to play in this regard. There is urgent need for synergy with the governors. With the right political will, they would do exploits. The governors demonstrated that much in Asaba.
Together, they should stand solidly on the Asaba Accord. They are fortunate. They have a Samuel Ortom in Benue to tap the needed inspiration from. There should be no shaking. Nothing missing; nothing broken!
It is now crystal clear: The fear of Fulani is the beginning of folly, idiocy and eventual destruction. The earlier we all realised this, the better for us all.
Asaba Accord down of a new era? We patiently keep our fragile fingers crossed.