By Joe Ezuma
Governors of Southern Nigeria have urged the Federal Government to convoke a national dialogue and take urgent steps to restructure the country.
But many who have become doubtful about confabs claim the call for dialogue would rather serve as safety valve for those who have constantly blocked the implementation of earlier dialogue , as it would offer them postponement of the evil they so much dread.
they point to insincererity of those who had held the country at the jugular , suppressing democracy and popular expression
The Southern Governors met in Asaba, Delta State on Tuesday to deliberate on the current security situation, agitations and clamour for restructuring of the country.
The governors expressed grave concern on the security challenge currently plaguing the nation and strongly urged that President Muhammad Buhari, to address Nigerians on the challenges of insecurity and restore the confidence of the people.
Chairman of Governors of Southern Nigeria and Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who read the communique after the meeting which at the Government House, Asaba, said the country is long overdue for restructuring
“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.”
The Southern governors recommended that in deference to the sensitivities of the various peoples of the country, there is need to review appointments into Federal Government agencies (including security agencies) to reflect federal character as Nigeria’s overall population is heterogenous.
The governors, however, 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.
They 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,.” they stated.
Accding chief Mike Obodoechi, ‘’ opposition to restructuring arose from mistrust among ethnic nationalities in Nigeria’’
Obodoechi said that discordant tunes from all sections of the country clearly shows that the centre could no longer hold .
These , among other centrifugal issues bedeviling the country formed their deposition in a communique at the end of the meeting.
But many are asking questions which the governors could not put answers to in their communique. how many dialogues and confabs can we have in the country for it to move ahead.
some who see the call as a mirage noted that the bed rock of the Aburi dialogue or conference by Nigeria’s leaders before the civil war broke out was the confidence among Nigeria’s populations had been grossly erased
It was agreed that to restore this lack of confidence for the nation to forge ahead, different regions should stay apart in a loose federation controlled by the centre but each with a limited autonomy.
The regions were to control their resources and pay 12 percent to the federal government for maintenance of the armed forces, the police telecommunications customs and immigration among others while also maintaining a regional police . But the federal forces twarted the agreement and encouraged then Gen. Yakubu Gowon to backslide at the agreement.
Since then the nation has witnessed more conferences, dialogue and constitutional amendments which adorn the shelves of the government
The last was the 2014 confab which many felt would salvage the country from disintegration if implemented . suffice it to say that most of those at the Asaba meeting were at that Confab.
What has been a national refrain since the fourt republice has been a reechoing of the Abuja conference and various Confabs these sore points include resource control, agitations for ethnic nationalities independenc such as agitation by Ralph Uwazurike survival of the sovereign state of Biafra, IPOB, Oduduwa republic , Niger Delta republic , agitation by United Middle Belt Forum. these were escalated by the Boko Haram insurgence which introduce mass killing In their quest for Islamic political entity.
The Vive president Alex Ekwueme had at one of the interviews he granted a national daily, noted the failure of the Gowon’s federal government to implement the Aburi Accord was at the root of flurry of agitations in the country.
Observers say how sincere the governors at the Asaba meeting are ,would be seen in the months to come. they point to the inability of some of the governors to allow for independence of the judiciary, local government autonomy and independence of state legislatures