From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidency led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari, on Wednesday evening met with the leadership of the Amalgamated Union of Food and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria (AFUCDN), commending them for calling off the strike to block supply of foodstuffs and cattle to the southern part of Nigeria.
Addressing State House Correspondents after meeting, Gambari assured the union led by Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello and former minister of aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode that their demands will be presented to President Muhammadu Buhari.
In the delegation were the president, Mr. Mohammed Tahir and Secretary General of AFUCDN, Mr. Ahmed Alaramma
Bello , said he led the delegation to request for the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari on the issues leading to the recent food blockage imposed on the south.
He disclosed that Union had table a list of demands, which must be met to avert a reoccurrence.
Bello said said working with Fani-Kayode, he has been able to reach out the major stakeholders on both sides insisting on the need for peace to reign.
He said he was able to extract the commitment form parties to sheath their swords in order to end the hardship that has accompanied the food embargo.
The governor said: “I’ve gotten the commitment of the Union. In order for us not to continue to have this hardship across the country to lift the ban on food and livestock transportation to the south.
“I’ve also gotten major commitment from people from the south not to attack people of Hausa/Fulani and the traders in the south and that the criminals among them irrespective of tribe and religion should be handed over to law enforcement agents.
“I’ve also gotten the commitment that their lives and properties will be protected also.
“So, these are the messages we brought to the the chief of staff to convey to the president.”
Bello also spoke on the demand which the traders want the president to meet saying: “Number one demand is to ensure that their goods and the lives of their members anywhere in the country are safe.”
He added: “On this note, we have brought the demands to Mr. President, through the Chief of Staff and how we’ve been able to resolve the matter. The Chief of Staff is going to convey the message to Mr. President.
“The association demanded that it’s members that are killed, they are requiring that compensation be paid for the lives and livelihood that were destroyed in the South.
“All those who committed those crimes should be brought to justice, the harassment by law enforcement agencies on our federal highways be stopped, the extortion by all touts along federal highways, especially from northeast or from the north to south-south and southeast, particularly, be stopped.
“We’ve presented those demands to the government because before now, they have reached out to every authority in the land and there seemed to be no positive response to the demand.”
He further said: “I have the mandate resolve the issue. We’ve been able to reach out to major actors in the southwest to desist allow peace to reign. We’ve gotten commitment on both sides to sheath their swords.”
Also speaking, Fani-Kayode said but for the timely intervention, the crisis which he described as a very complicated issue, would definitely have snowballed into a major crisis of in the country.
He described the intervention led by Bello and his team as “more or less like a miracle” as they acted within 72 hours which led to a positive resolution.
“And that is extremely impressive. And I believe that by this intervention in national issue, if we have this sort of strong leadership across party lines across party lines, our country would be a much better place in the future.”