From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidency, led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari, yesterday 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 the 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, Ahmed Alaramma
Bello said he led the delegation to request for the intervention of President Buhari on the issues leading to the recent food blockage imposed on the South.
He disclosed that the union had table a list of demands, which must be met to avert a reoccurrence.
Bello said working with Fani-Kayode, he was able to reach out to major stakeholders on both sides, insisting on the need for peace to reign.
He said he was able to extract the commitment from parties to sheathe their swords in order to end the hardship that 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 commitment from people from the South not to attack 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 property will be protected. So, these are the messages we brought to 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 their goods and lives of their members anywhere in the country are safe.”
“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 o staff is going to convey the message to Mr. President.
“The association demanded 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 North East or from the North to South South and South East 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 demands.
“I have the mandate to resolve the issue. We’ve been able to reach out to major actors in the South West to allow peace to reign. We’ve gotten commitment on both sides to sheathe their swords.”
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 in the country.