FROM PAUL OSUYI, ASABA
LEADERS of thought in the three geo-political zones of the southern part of the country have decried the proposed grazing bill, describing it as a permanent source of conflict across the country.
The position of the leaders under the aegis of Southern Nigeria People’s Assembly (SNPA) was contained in a communique issued yesterday at the end of a three-day meeting in Asaba, Delta State capital.
Former Vice President Alex Ekwueme (represented by former Anambra State Governor Chukuwuemeka Ezeife); Ijaw National leader, Chief Edwin Clark (represented by Senator Roland Owie); and Senator Femi Okorounmu who stood in for Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi, among others were present at the meeting.
They deplored the rampaging attack, raping and killing of innocent Nigerians in parts of the country by the notorious Fulani herdsmen, and called on the Federal Government to set up a Judicial Panel of Inquiry to investigate the criminal activities of herdsmen.
Ekwueme, Clark and Gbonigi explained that the bill portends danger to the nation as it will institute a source of permanent conflict especially the federal structure of the country and the 1999 Constitution which vests power to hold land on the 36 states of the country and the minister of the Federal Capital Territory.
The leaders said: “The President should deal decisively with the issue of Fulani herdsmen in the manner government is dealing with the insurgency that if unchecked has the capacity to snowball to another Boko Haram.
“Consequently, he should set up a Judicial Panel of Inquiry to investigate all Fulani herdsmen attack between May 2015 till date and all those found to be directly or remotely involved in those attacks should be arrested and brought to book.”
The Southern leaders observed that the inability of President Muhammadu Buhari to begin the implementation of the resolutions of the 2014 National Conference was objectionable as the resolutions if implemented may help in resolving many political, socio-economic and security challenges of the country.
While calling on Nigerians to support Buhari in his anti-corruption drive, war on insurgency and his effort at reviving ailing industries, they however urged him to respect the rule of law, the protection of citizens’ fundamental human rights and the pronouncements of the courts.
They advised that the war on corruption should neither be vindictive nor selective as selective justice amounts to injustice and the immediate release of all Nigerians which various courts have given bail and have subsequently met their bail conditions.
Also, they advised Northern Elders Forum to desist from infusing in the present administration, the “we and they” mentality which usually create division and confusion in the polity.
“The Northern Elders Forum should realize that President Muhammadu Buhari is the President of Nigeria and not the President of Northern Nigeria. the government is therefore for the entire Nigeria and programmes and projects should be for the overall development and growth of the country and not a section of it,” they said.