From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Worried by deteriorating security situation in the country, governors of the southern states, yesterday, demanded that President Muhammadu Buhari convokes a national dialogue.
The governors urged the president to address the country, to douse tension and restore the confidence of citizens.
The governors met under the Southern Nigeria Governors Forum (SNGF), which is theumbrella body for all the 17 governors in South West, South South and South East geo-political zones.
In a 12-point communiqué issued at the end of a crucial meeting, held in Asaba, Delta State, yesterday, the governors called for restructuring of the country, evolution of state police and the review of revenue allocation formula to states.
They, however, affirmed the commitment of the people of Southern Nigeria to the unity of the country, “on the basis of justice, fairness, equity, oneness and peaceful co-existence between and among its peoples, with a focus on the attainment of shared goals for economic development and prosperity.”
Chairman of the Southern Governor’s Forum and Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), while reading the communique, the expressed worries over the incursion of armed herders, criminals and bandits intothe southern part of the country.
He said the development has presented a severe security challenge, such that citizens were 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,” he said.
He said the ‘no open grazing’ would be enforced as the population growth in the southern region has put pressure on available land and increased the conflicts between migrating herders and their host communities.
However, the governor’s recommended that the Federal Government should support willing states to develop alternative and modern livestock management systems.
He said the governors agreed that there was urgent and bold steps be taken, to restructure the Nigerian federation for it to make progress.
He said there was dire need for 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.”
On the widespread agitations for greater inclusiveness in existing governance arrangements, the governors urged the federal government to convoke a national dialogue as a matter of urgenc.
Akeredolu said the governors resolved to foster cooperation among the southern states and the nation at large, and expressed “concern on the continued gridlock on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway 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.”
On COVID-19, the governors warned against another lockdown in the country, sayingthat the economic implications of such would be grave.
They, however, advocated greater “coordination and cooperation between the federal and state governments, in evolving strategies for dealing with the pandemic.”