From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi, Obinna Odogwu, Awka, Felix Ikem, Nsukka, Lukman Olabiyi
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, yesterday, applauded the decision of the southern governors to ban open grazing, saying any Nigerian opposed to their position has a hidden agenda.
The governor, who stated this at Holy Ghost Parish Hall, during the ‘Media Week and Communications Day 2021’ organised by the Directorate of Social Communications, Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, said his colleagues from the southern part of the country had towed the right path towards addressing insecurity in Nigeria.
Ortom, who noted that open grazing is no longer feasible in the country due to development and population growth, said Nigeria is a great country with great potentials and should, ordinarily, have no business with poverty, if only there was guaranteed security for lives and property and the people allowed to remain stable in their localities, to explore opportunities in farming and other ventures.
The governor thanked the Church and Muslim community, as well as residents and citizens of the state, for remaining supportive of his administration.
He also commended the good reportage of government policies and programmes by the Directorate of Social Communication, Catholic Diocese of Makurdi and all the media groups in Benue, maintinaing that his administration would always welcome constructive criticism.
A youth body, under the aegis of Save Enugu Youth Initiatives also commended the governors’ recommendation for the restructuring of the country, state policing and the jettisoning of open grazing as panacea for the lingering insecurity across the federation.
The youth body described as factual, the problems identified by the governors, while urging the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, muster courage and embrace the timely calls by the southern leaders, to save the nation from sliding into a ditch.
Speaking to Daily Sun in Nsukka, yesterday, the Convener of the group, Gwiyi Solomon, who was flanked by the state coordinator of the group, Comr. Chibueze Nwoga, commended the southern governors for demonstrating genuine leadership and exemplary representation, especially as it concerns burning national issues.
“What the southern governors resolved at Asaba, in Delta State, on Tuesday, is the only way out of the debacle in which we found ourselves in the current Nigerian nation.
“Their resolutions are far-reaching and shouldn’t be swept under the carpet by the federal government if, indeed, they love and have Nigeria at heart. A resolution to ban open grazing is the way to go; a resolution calling for restructuring and national confab are both timely and necessary now,” Gwiyi concluded.
Meanwhile, the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and the Agbekoya Farmers Society described the ban of open grazing as a welcome development that would go a long way in checking insecurity across the entire southern Nigeria, but also sought the governors permission on the use of juju to enforce the ban and deal with criminal/ defiant herdsmen ruthlessly.
OPC Publicity Secretary, Yinka Oguntimehin and the National Secretary of Agbekoya, Prince Adegbenro Ogunlana made the pledge at separate interviews with Daily Sun. Oguntimehin said:” It’s a very welcome development, and we believe it would go a long way in checking issues of insecurity. If we get the government’s backing, we will use all we have, including juju, to tackle insecurity.”
On his part, Ogunlana said: “It’s a good step taken in the right direction by the governors if they are sincere with their decision and not just playing politics, as usual.
Nobody is against anybody; all we care for is security of life and property. The South is not against the North. Apart from ban on open grazing and other resolutions of governors, the farmers should also be compensated for their loss in the past; government should support us. If government can back us, our traditional ways of protecting life and security are still with us, and we are ready to unleash it, if permitted by the government.”
•New confab not necessary- Ozekhome
However, Constitutional lawyer and rights activist, Mike Ozekhome, yesterday, advised the 17 governors in the Southern Nigeria to perish their call and expectations for another constitutional conference, stressing that they should rather demand the implementation of the 2014 confab.
Ozekhome, while speaking on the topic “Legal Profession in a Lawless Society, in Awka, Anambra State capital”, during the 25th Law Week of the Awka branch of the NBA, where he was a keynote speaker, said that the implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 confab convened by former President Goodluck Jonathan, would go a long way in solving the country’s challenges.
Ozekhome said: “I was at the 2014 national conference headed by late Justice Idris Kutigi, and the over 200 recommendations we made at that conference are yet to be touched.
“So, when I heard the 17 southern governors talking about another conference… I know they mean well for the country; but we do not need another dialogue.
“Let them go to the 2014 recommendations, they will see that we recommended state police and part-time legislature. The Constitution made the sitting of member of the National Assembly six months, but they are receiving fat salaries.”