By Ifeanyi Olannye
The Southern Governors Forum on Tuesday urged the Federal Government to urgently convoke a national dialogue to address the wide spread agitations in the country.
The call was contained in a 12-point communique read by the forum’s Chairman and Governor of Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu at a meeting held in Asaba, Delta.
“In view of widespread agitations among our various peoples for greater inclusiveness in existing governance arrangements, the Federal Government should convoke a national dialogue as a matter of urgency,” it stated.
The meeting which lasted for about four hours and had 15 members in attendance also called for restructuring of the country leading to the evolution of state police.
It expressed grave concern on the nation’s current security challenges and urged President Mohammadu Buhari to address Nigerians on the challenges and restore the confidence of the people.
The forum affirmed that the peoples of Southern Nigeria remained committed to the unity of Nigeria on the basis of justice, fairness, equity and oneness and peaceful co-existence between and among its peoples.
It said the unity was with a focus to the attainment of shared goals for economic development and prosperity.
The forum observed that the incursion of armed herders, criminals and bandits into the southern part of the country had presented a severe security challenge to it.
It said that as a result, the citizens were no longer able to live their normal lives including pursuing various productive activities.
“This is leading to a threat to food supply and general security. Consequently, the meeting resolved that open grazing of cattle be banned across Southern Nigeria.
“Development and population growth has put pressure on available land and increased the prospects of conflict between migrating herders and local populations in the south.
“Given this scenario, it becomes imperative to enforce the ban on open grazing in the south (including cattle movement to the south by foot),” it stated.
The body of governors recommended that the federal government should support willing states to develop alternative and modern livestock management systems.
It also called for the review of revenue allocation formula in favour of the sub-national governments and creation of other institutions which legitimately advance the country’s commitment to the practice of true federalism.
The forum stressed the need for the review of appointments into federal government agencies, including security agencies, to reflect federal character.
The governors’ forum also expressed concern on the continued gridlock on the Oshodi -Apapa Expressway and the chokehold it had exerted on the nation’s economy, being the sole outlet from Apapa Wharf.
It 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.
The forum further expressed concern on the economic implications of another COVID-19 lockdown on the country.
It suggested greater coordination and cooperation between the federal and state governments in evolving strategies for dealing with the pandemic.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 13 governors and two deputy governors were in attendance while two were absent.
In attendance were Govs. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, Willi Obiano of Anambra, Douye Diri of Beyelsa, Godwin Obaseki of Edo and David Umehi of Ebonyi.
Others were Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, Seyi Makinde of Oyo State and Nyesom Wike of Rivers.
Hope Uzodimma of Imo and Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom were represented by their deputies, Prof. Placcid Njoku and Mr Moses Ekpo respectively.
Govs. Gboyega Oyetola of Osun and Ben Ayade of Cross River were absent. (NAN).