From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The governors in the South West of Nigeria and leading traditional rulers in the geopolitical zone rose from a security meeting by the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, yesterday and told President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government that the country’s borders are too porous and urgent steps must be taken to check the menace, towards finding lasting solution to security issues besetting the nation.
They noted that the security architecture of Nigerian borders should be strengthened if the incessant conflicts between local farmers and invading foreign herdsmen would become a thing of the past. The meeting also backed the recent decision of the National Economic Council (NEC) that allows respective state governments in the nation to control and manage their forests.
The security meeting was hosted by Governor Seyi Makinde and presided over the Ondo State governor and Chairman of the South West Governors’ Forum, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu. The Ekiti State governor and Chairman of the NigerianGovernors’ Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi; as well as Governors Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun) in attendance. No mention was made on why the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was absent at the meeting.
Traditional rulers in attendance at the meeting included the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi; Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso I; Olugbo of Ugboland, Oba Fredrick Akinruntan; Akarigbo of Remoland, Oba Babatunde Ajayi and Olugbon of Orile-Igbo, Oba Francis Alao.
The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, was represented by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in-charge of South West, David Folawiyo. The
Commissioner of Police in the state, Mrs. Ngozi Onadeko, also graced the meeting. The closed-door meeting, which commenced at 3:10 pm ended at 5:30p.m.
Meanwhile, the convener of the security meeting, the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Prof Gambari as well as the Director-General of Department of State Security (DSS), Yusuf Bichi, were not physically present at the security meeting based on the hazy weather that prevented the duo and the IGP from flying from Abuja to Ibadan. But their absence watered down the expectations of what would have come out of the meeting.
Briefing journalists after the meeting, Governor Akeredolu, said: “The meeting with the governors of South West and our Obas in South West was to be with the Chief of Staff to the President, and heads of security in the country. The Chief of Staff called the meeting. Unfortunately, the Chief of Staff and heads of security have been at the airport in Abuja until when they had to resign to fate, following the fact that the weather would not allow them to fly. All of us have seen that the weather is very hazy. They did not have the weather in their favour to come into Ibadan as they did not have landing. So, they had to cancel the flight.
“They got across to us and apologized. But we felt that since we are all here, we can still meet and discuss a few things. So, we have met and discussed. I can assure you that the discussion that we had with our Obas here and the security chiefs that are here was most productive. We discussed many things we never thought of. They came up and we had from our Kabiyesis more mature approach to challenges we are facing in the South West and in the country at large.
“During our discussion, we all agreed that the time is now that we support the decision of National Economic Council (NEC) about forest management. We believe that all the states should be in position to manage their forest. And that will give enough room for you to determine who and who are there, what purpose are they serving, and where you have people who are there illegally, the state should be able to take some steps so that it can preserve her forest. All of us believe thatwe should support that decision of NEC. So, we are in support of NEC decision onforest management. All of us here, the Kabiyesis and governors agreed.
“We also debated on a few other things. We all agreed that our borders have become too porous, and that we need to do something urgently to prevent foreigners or foreign herdsmen, coming into this country without any form of caution. A number of them have come in with their herds or cows and all they do is something of concern to all of us. We believe that our borders need to be checked. We need to tighten our borders so that all these foreigners, whether from Niger and so on don’t come here and destroy our farms.
“We also discussed the fact that all of us believe that the time is now. So, as we are supporting other areas of farming, we are supporting rice farmers, we are supporting others, the need for the government to support cattle breeding is now. One of the ways we discussed to change the way and means that cattle breeders are adopting now – commercialisation. So, you can find designated grazing areas, where you can graze. You can have feed mills, where you can feed. You don’t have to trek with your herds from far. You can decide what you want to do. But this issue that will lead to open grazing in this modern time must be looked at and government – the state and particularly the federal, should to look into this and give support as much as you can to cattle breeders.
“So, we also zeroed in on the issue of fake news. You need to assist us, assist the country so that this issue of fake news will be played down; something has to be done. Fake news, we must work at it. The journalists have a duty more than any other person to have responsible journalism and carry news as they are. It is not an easy thing for you. You want to sell your newspaper. I know that what I have said here now, you will add to it, subtract from it. But I am used to it. What we are trying to address is that fake news must not come out. We knew what fake news did during #EndSARS protest. We cannot have fake news when you have all these farmers/herders clashes and so on. It will not help us. It will only pour petrol in fire.”
Attempts by journalists to get further clarifications from the governors and the traditional rulers on whether the meeting would be rescheduled based on the absence of the convener proved abortive as all of them refused to grant audience to journalists. They were all guarded by security agents into their vehicles and they zoomed off.