Governors of the Southern states in the country are currently in a meeting in Lagos state to discuss issues concerning the state of the nation.
The meeting which is being hosted by Lagos Governor Bababjide Sanwo-Olu, has in attendance Governor Seyi Makinde (Oyo); Dapo Abiodun (Ogun); Gboyega Oyetola (Osun); Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and Nyesom Wike (Rivers). Others are Duoye Diri (Bayelsa); Emeka Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo); Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta); Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom).
Deputy Governors Philip Shaibu (Edo), Ude Chukwu (Abia), Placid Njoku (Imo) and Kelechi Igwe (Ebonyi) represented their state governors.
Governors Willie Obiano (Anambra) and Ben Ayade (Cross River) are yet to arrive at the meeting
The last time the governors met in May was when they took the unanimous decision to ban open grazing in the region.
Critical stakeholders have, however, warned the governors not to allow Nigerians to perceive their meetings as a “mere gathering” where empty threats or resolutions are made.
They said the governors should deploy better strategies by involving their representatives in the National Assembly, engage the State Houses of Assembly and also seek collaborations of socio-cultural and political organisations, to get their aim and objectives achieved.
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Spokesman, Middle Belt Forum, Dr Isuwa Dogo, commended the governors’ determination to meet and take a stand, especially at this uncertain period. But they all tasked them to go beyond making resolutions.
Akinrinade commended the governors for having the courage to reconvene, and also said the present challenges confronting Nigeria would linger till the next century “except something urgent is done. You must remain resolute in the demand for restructuring.”
He enjoined the governors to mount pressure on elected representatives from their various states in National Assembly to support restructuring.
“I wonder what Southern lawmakers in the National Assembly are doing about restructuring? They seem not to be serious about it.”
To him, the governors should as a matter of necessity impress it on Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and all Southern Senators to kickstart the debate on how to restructure the country.
The retired general also said the governors must be more assertive in their demand for state police in the meeting tomorrow. “I think after tomorrow’s meeting, the governors should return home and begin to lobby their states Assembly to raise Bill on State Police. Their demand now should be a full-fledged State Police and nothing more. They should also make their stand known to President Muhammadu Buhari that he must come out and speak on the state of insecurity in the country.
Opadokun said the governors must act their talk. He said it was not enough of the 17 southern governors to make pronouncements. They should make their state Houses of Assembly legislate the Asaba Resolutions into law to give it a force of law. If the governors can collaborate with lawmakers, it will become more effective and remain a credible voice for the marginalised southern part of Nigeria.”
Dogo challenged the governors to deploy tactical strategies to get their demands achieved. He urged them to ensure they deploy their numerical strength to persuade the National Assembly and their various States Assembly to implement and recognise the resolutions of the 2014 National Conference.
“If they are serious, they can also get support from States like Adamawa, Plateau, Taraba, Southern Kaduna, Sokoto, Kwara and Kogi. They should mobilise all the socio-political and cultural bodies to support restructuring and how to implement the conference report. By the time they do this, President Buhari will have no choice than to adhere to their demands.”
The State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, was said to have confirmed that the parley would deliberate on insecurity, true federalism, open grazing, State Police, restructuring, and food security, among others.
The meeting would also discuss the aftermath of the Asaba gathering to assess if any meaningful success was made.
MB reported that nearly all the governors are likely to be in attendance because of the near-war situation Nigeria is in at the moment and how insecurity is currently affecting their states.
But a serving member of the House of Representatives, who did not want his name in print, disclosed that northern lawmakers are watching Gbajabiamila closely and would not hesitate to initiate an impeachment motion against him if he tries anything they perceive to be against the interest of their region.
It would be recalled that the governors, at the last meeting, which was hosted by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State and attended by 15 of the 17 Southern governors, arrived at a 12-point resolution, which included the banning of open grazing of cattle in all the states.
Recall that the governors in a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting in Asaba, banned open grazing as part of moves to address killings and kidnapping by herdsmen.
But a few days after the meeting, the Presidency faulted the ban on open grazing. The Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, had, in a statement, said, “It is equally true that their (governors’) announcement is of questionable legality, given the constitutional right of all Nigerians to enjoy the same rights and freedoms within every one of our 36 states (and FCT), regardless of the state of their birth or residence.”
Also, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, slammed the southern governors for banning open grazing.
According to the AGF, open grazing ban is the same thing as Northern governors banning spare parts trading in their own region, considering the fact that southerners comprise a majority of spare parts traders in the North.
The President, during a recorded television interview in June, also backed Malami’s position, adding that he had directed that grazing routes be recovered.