The Southern senators have in a press conference held in Abuja expressed their support for the resolution made public in a communique issued by Southern Governors after their meeting in Asaba, Delta state.
The widespread insecurity and terror unleashed by the Fulani herdsmen have become of grave concern nationwide.
The press release is below:
INSECURITY: SOUTHERN SENATORS COMMEND AND ENDORSE THE RESOLUTIONS OF THE SOUTHERN GOVERNORS; URGING THEM TO WORK WITH THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FOR OPTIMAL RESULTS.
As insecurity continues to take a toll on the country and subjecting many to kidnapping and killing, the Southern Senators Forum (SSF), has commended Governors from the region for outrightly taking a firm position on burning national issues, including banning open grazing of cattle.
The Senators submitted that such deft and unanimous policy would help in reining in those hiding under cattle grazing to unleash terror of kidnapping and killing on the residents of the region.
Southern Governors Forum (SGF), had at its meeting held in Asaba, Delta State Capital, on Tuesday, unanimously passed a verdict prohibiting open grazing in the region to checkmate herders-farmers clashes and senseless kidnapping as well as killings of Nigerian citizens of southern extraction.
A statement jointly signed by the SSF Chairman, Secretary General and Publicity Secretary, Senators Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti), Mathew Uroghide (Edo) and Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu), respectively and made available to journalists in Abuja and Ado Ekiti, on Wednesday, appaluded the step taken by the Governors, saying it would serve as a buffer to wanton destruction of farmlands, kidnappings and carnages .
The Senators lamented how the Southern farmers were losing Hyndeeds of millions of Naira to plundering of food crops through encroachments on farmlands and exposing the region to famine and acute food scarcity .
They said: “At this critical point of our national life when the economy was being bedeviled by galloping inflation, youth unemployment and insecurity, food security is very crucial to mitigate the effects of these diverse evils on the citizens.
“Available records have shown that attaining food security status would remain a mirage in the south owing to ravaging effect of outdated livestock grazing policy being unleashed on farmlands by some unscrupulous herders.
“Most appalling were the seemingly unabated kidnapping , raping and killing of our people by suspected herdsmen, who have become bandits heating up the system.
“With this uniform resolve by our Governors to initiate no-open grazing policy, the region will return to its peaceful and agriculturally self -sufficient status it had assumed even long before Nigeria’s amalgamation in 1914”.
Bamidele, Uroghide and Utazi saluted the Governors for ruminating on the expediency and the need for speedy restructuring of the highly lopsided Nigerian nation, saying this will also help to remove the venom that had permeated the land on account of alleged neglect of certain sections of the country.
The SSF leaders stated that ushering of equality , equity and justice in the way the country is being run will wipe out ethnic tension , restore peace and stability and ward off agitations for secession that are now gaining tractions across the land.
Finally, the Southern Senators Forum encouraged the Governors to swiftly follow up on their resolutions by immediately approaching the leadership of the National Assembly with a view to working with the two arms of the parliament to ensure that their well articulated positions on the state of the nation, especially as relate to restructuring, State policing and the jettisoning of archaic traditional grazing methods, which fall short of global best practice standard and a potential threat to our national cohesion and peace, are thoroughly and decisively addressed through the ongoing constitutional review exercise.
COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE MEETING OF THE GOVERNORS OF SOUTHERN NIGERIA IN GOVERNMENT HOUSE, ASABA, DELTA STATE, ON TUESDAY, 11TH MAY, 2021
At its meeting held today, 11th May, 2021, the Southern Governors Forum reviewed the situation in the nation generally and focused on the current security situation, agitations/restructuring, prospect for inter-state collaboration and partnerships as well as on the incidence of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Rising from the meeting, the Forum:
affirmed that the peoples of Southern Nigeria remain committed to the unity of Nigeria on the basis of justice, fairness, equity and oneness and peaceful co-existence between and among its peoples with a focus on the attainment of shared goals for economic development and prosperity; observed that the incursion of armed herders, criminals and bandits into the Southern part of the country has presented a severe security challenge such that citizens are 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; noted that 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); recommended that the Federal Government should support WILLING States to develop alternative and modern livestock management systems; agreed that the progress of the nation requires that urgent and bold steps be taken to restructure the Nigerian Federation leading to 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; recommended that 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; recommended that in deference to the sensitivities of our various peoples, there is need to review appointments into Federal Government Agencies (including Security Agencies) to reflect federal character as Nigeria’s overall population is heterogenous; resolved to foster cooperation among the Southern States and the nation at large;
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; the meeting expressed concern on the economic implications of another lockdown on the country, and therefore suggested greater coordination and cooperation between Federal and State Governments in evolving strategies for dealing with the pandemic; expressed very grave concern on the security challenge currently plaguing the nation and strongly urged that Mr. President should address Nigerians on the challenges of insecurity and restore the confidence of our people; and expressed gratitude to our host, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for his generosity and hospitality.
Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN Governor, Ondo State
His Excellency His Excellency Dr. Victor Okezie Ikpeazu Chief Emmanuel Udom Governor, Abia State Governor, Akwa Ibom State
His Excellency His Excellency Willie Obiano Senator Diri Duoye Governor, Anambra State Governor, Bayelsa State
His Excellency His Excellency Prof. Ben Ayade Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa Governor, Cross Rivers State Governor, Delta State
His Excellency His Excellency Engr. Dave Umahi Godwin Obaseki Governor, Ebonyi State Governor, Edo State
His Excellency His Excellency John Olukayode Fayemi Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi Governor, Ekiti State Governor, Enugu State
His Excellency His Excellency Senator Hope Uzodimma Babajide Sanwo-Olu Governor, Imo State Governor, Lagos State
His Excellency His Excellency Dapo Abiodun Isiaka Adegboyega Oyetola Governor, Ogun State Governor, Osun State
His Excellency His Excellency Oluwaseyi Abiodun Makinde Ezenwo Nyesom Wike Governor, Oyo State Governor, Rivers State
The Ondo state chapter of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) says it is time for herders to seek modern alternatives to open grazing.
The association also called on the government to make provision for ranches as a way of putting an end to frequent clashes between herders and farmers.
Bello Garba, chairman of the association in the state, said this in Akure on Wednesday during a public hearing on a bill to regulate grazing of livestock and provide for the establishment of ranches, among other related issues.
Garba said the association would support any peaceful move to address the issue, adding that farmers and herders must carry out their respective activities without clashing.
According to him, the association has also appealed to the state government to register Fulani men in all the LGAs of the state.
On his part, Ibrahim Abdul-Rahman, assistant secretary of the association, explained that open grazing had become obsolete and needed to be banned.
Abdul-Rahman asked all stakeholders to embrace modern cattle rearing techniques, saying farmers and herders must allow peace to reign considering the importance of both parties to the nation’s growth.
While declaring the public hearing open, Bamidele Oloyelogun, speaker of the assembly, said it was aimed at enhancing peaceful coexistence in the state.
Oloyelogun added that if similar moves had been made in the past, it would have been a different story today.
“It is for peace to reign in our state. This record will go a long way, having effects even on the children yet unborn,” Oloyelogun said.
“Your memoranda and suggestions will be welcome. Please, feel free to air your views and bare your minds, but we must be objective and constructive.”
The speaker explained that grazing would be regulated with the provision of modern techniques in animal husbandry.
He enjoined participants to shun sentiments, saying “we are all one.”
In his remarks, Taofik Mohammed, chairman of the house committee on agriculture, noted that one of the provisions of the bill is to achieve a peaceful atmosphere in the state.
The lawmaker said it was regrettable that some criminally-minded people had been hiding under the farmers-herders crisis to wreak havoc on innocent citizens.
He explained that the effects of the lingering misunderstanding between farmers and herders have grave effects on the economy, growth and development of the state.
“It is obvious that GDP will adversely drop whenever food and animal production is hampered,” he said.
Mohammed urged participants to take full advantage of the hearing and make invaluable suggestions.
In January, Rotimi Akeredolu, governor of Ondo, had ordered herders to vacate the state’s forest reserves. The order sparked off a chain of controversies.
Amid the insecurity and tension caused by clashes between farmers and herders in some parts of the region, south-west governors have also banned open grazing in the region.
The Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, a factional umbrella body for herdsmen in the country, has said it is opposed to the ban imposed on open grazing of cattle by South-West governors. It said the enforcement of the ban was tantamount to an eviction notice.
This is however against the position of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, which at a meeting with some governors in Akure, the Ondo State capital, on January 25, said it agreed with the position of the governors.
The meeting in Akure was attended by the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi; Governors Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun State, Muhammad Badaru of Jigawa State, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State and Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State. MACBAN was led to the meeting by its chairman, Alhaji Muhammadu Kiruwa, among other attendees.
Apart from South-West governors, governors in the South-East had previously banned open grazing and movement of cows on foot into the South-East.
The Secretary General of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Saleh Alhassan, said on Friday, “They can’t put an end to open grazing by fiat because grazing is not motorcycle business; there must be an alternative. Secondly, if they say they are going to end open grazing, what is the timeline for it?
“They want to displace herders from where they earn their livelihood. It is not different from an eviction notice – it is just putting the eviction notice into effect. This is very unfortunate because they cannot come out to say they are embracing peaceful herders and then say they are ending open grazing. What do they mean by that? Is there closed grazing?
“From history, right from the time of Moses, grazing is open. By now, they should realise that they will not get the result they are looking for. We are in total support of the National Livestock Transformation Plan. I was part of the committee that reviewed the final document. The programme has a lot of components, and if implemented, it will address a lot of challenges.
“Look at Benue State and how the approach has created a militia. You can’t end open grazing by fiat as if someone is looking for a crisis, and these crises have a way of reverberating.”
Alhassan argued that asking herdsmen to stop open grazing and begin ranching was tantamount to asking farmers to begin mechanisation, without which they wouldn’t be able to do their farming activities.
He added, “If they say herders must begin ranching today, where is the ranch? For someone to develop a ranch, they need at least three to five years for it to mature. The facts are there. Ranches cannot be created overnight but they are just playing politics.”
On the issue of insecurity, he said herders had been victims of rustling and kidnapping and that if insecurity was to be addressed, it was not by making it an ethnic issue, because according to him, there are criminals in every ethnic group.
“It’s sad, because at the end of the day, we end up radicalising the herders,” he said. “When they are radicalised, who will benefit? The country will suffer worse insecurity. That’s why we are against this issue of eviction or ultimatum because it doesn’t work like that. There have not been proper laws at the national level to address these challenges and the National Assembly is just playing to the gallery. Let there be proper laws.”
He said if there had been an increase in the herders moving from the North to the South, it could be due to climate change, insecurity in the North-East, drought caused by environmental factors or Boko Haram.
“All these need to be properly addressed via articulated policies. Politicians should address their differences; they should leave the herders alone, they are in the bush dealing with all kinds of challenges,” he added.
When reminded that Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, who is also a northerner, had canvassed the restriction of the movement of herders from the North to the South, Alhassan said, “That is where I disagree totally with the Kano State governor. Are they going to stay inside his house in Kano? You must create space for them and not to just talk.”
Bala Mohammed, Bauchi State Governor, has proffered reasons herders must carry weapons.
According to the governor, herdsmen need to protect themselves. The governor ascribed the practice to the failure of society and government to guarantee the safety of herders while in the forest.
The governor, who spoke on Thursday, February 11, in Bauchi, said, “Because the Fulani man is practising the tradition of pastoralism, he has been exposed to the vagaries of the forest, cattle rustlers who carry guns, kill him and take away his commonwealth, which is the cows.
He has no option than to carry AK47 because the society and the government are not protecting him, what is his fault; it’s the fault of the government and the people. You don’t criminalize all of them, because, in every tribe, there are criminals.” He added
The Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) may have been hit by the reality that open grazing is no longer fashionable in modern society.
In a communiqué Tuesday after their virtual meeting on Monday, the forum noted: “The current system of herding mainly through open grazing is no longer sustainable, in view of growing urbanisation and population of the country.”
Consequently, it resolved to sensitise herders on the need to adopt new methods of herding, either by ranching or other acceptable modern methods.
It appealed to the Federal Government to support states with grants to directly undertake pilot projects of modern livestock production that would serve as a springboard for the full implementation of new methods of livestock production.
The governors called on political leaders to isolate criminality and social groups in their domains with a view to treating criminals like criminals.
The meeting presided over by the NSGF chairman, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, condemned every form of criminality whether from herders, hunters or farmers occupying forest reserves illegally.
With the security of the region and the country atop the agenda, the meeting noted with concern the growing wave of insecurity in the country
It noted with concern the tension generated by the eviction order issued to criminal herdsmen in some parts of the country, with threats of reprisals, which the Northern governors were working assiduously to contain.
The forum stressed the urgent need for the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) to meet and discuss the issue holistically, to resolve all areas of misunderstanding and conflict arising from threats and suspicion, for the sake of national unity.
“Accordingly, a four-man committee was put in place to be headed by the chairman of NSGF,” the communiqué noted.
It, however, called for restraint from leaders, including those in the southern parts of the country, where passions are high. Also, citizens of the northern part were urged to continue to live in peace with all Nigerians irrespective of their background.
The Southeast governors have announced the ban on open grazing and the movement of cows by foot in the region in an effort to tackle the security challenges confronting the zone.
This was disclosed on Monday by the Chairman of the Southeast Governors’ Forum and Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi during the inauguration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abakaliki.
“The governors of the southeast had banned not only open grazing, but we have also banned the movement of cows by foot into the southeast,” he said.
“In each of the five states of the southeast, we are managing ourselves very well. We have also stopped the movement of cows across communities.
“What we discussed in the southeast with the herdsmen, with the farmers is the method that has been in place for a long time before now.”
The governor also cautioned the easterners against instigating crises in the country through the dissemination of fake videos alleging the killing of Fulanis by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the South-East.
While noting that security is not an issue that should be politicised, Governor Umahi called on leaders of the region to create a framework that will secure the lives and properties of the people.
“What our people must know is that security is not political, what is demanded of the leaders is to put up programs that favour the people and foster national unity.
“There is a new dimension that is taking place in the southeast which is very dangerous. It is when the communities use the name of IPOB, the video and upload it to the social media and say it is IPOB that is burning the houses of herdsmen.
“It is not IPOB, it is the communities that are doing this and this is very dangerous for the Igbo man. I am talking to us as leaders,” he added.
Meanwhile, the announcement of the ban on open grazing in the South East comes days after Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), gave the South-East Governors a 14-day ultimatum to ban all forms of open grazing in the region in compliance with the 1969 statutory law of Nigeria.
The Indigenous People Of Biafra, IPOB has given the five state governors in the Southeast a 14 day ultimatum from Sunday to come up with a regional security apparatus in the mould of Amotekun as thrown up by the Southwest governors.
IPOB said that at the end of the 14 day period it would deploy its Eastern Security Network, ESN operatives to immediately start the enforcement of the 1969 law banning open grazing in the country.
The call was immediately rejected by the Imo State governor, Hope Uzodinma who said that IPOB had no basis for giving the governors the directive.
IPOB issued the statement through its spokesman, Emma Powerful.
“We wish to humbly and most submissively call upon all the governors of the East to, as a matter of urgency, ban all manner of open grazing in the region in compliance with the 1969 statutory law of Nigeria that banned such provocative and primitive practice by Fulani herdsmen.
“The bold step taken by Yoruba governors in banning open grazing in their region is commendable and as such MUST be reciprocated and consolidated by a similar pronouncement in the East.
“If after 14 days there is no firm and decisive action by Eastern governors to ban open grazing in our land, Eastern Security Network, ESN, will step in to commence the enforcement of this 1969 Anti-Grazing Law across the entire region. Don’t say you were not informed or given prior warning.”
However, the plea was immediately rejected by Uzodinma who questioned IPOB’s capacity to give the call.
Speaking through his commissioner for information, Declan Emelumba, he said:
‘’I don’t know the basis he is issuing the ultimatum. Is he the boss of the governors or superior authority? The governors will look at his appeal at their discretion,” Emelumba told Vanguard.
‘’The threat aspect is wrong. He has no right to talk of enforcement. The South-East governors will always take decision based on the best interest of the people who elected them.’’