Seven All Progressives Congress (APC) governors were among the 17 southern governors who on Tuesday faulted President Muhammadu Buhari’s handling of the security situation in the country.
The governors, 15 of whom were personally in attendance and others represented by their deputies, met in Asaba, the Delta State capital to discuss the state of the nation.
The APC governors in attendance were Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Hope Uzodinma (Imo), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), and Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), who briefed journalists after the meeting.
Like the governors, Mr Buhari is a member of the APC, under whom he has won two terms in office.
The APC governors were joined by PDP’s Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Nyesom Wike (Rivers) Douye Diri (Bayelsa), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Ben Ayade (Cross River), Seye Makinde (Oyo), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom) and Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), who hosted the meeting.
Also in attendance was Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State who belongs to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
The governors, according to the communique issued after the meeting, 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.”
They also banned open grazing of cattle in the southern region as a solution to the unending cases of farmer-herder clashes and other security threats.
i) (We) 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;
ii) 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;
III) 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).
The governors further recommended that the federal government should support willing states to develop alternative and modern livestock management systems.
On restructuring, the governors agreed that the progress of the nation ”required that urgent and bold steps be taken to restructure the Nigerian Federation leading to the evolution of state police”.
They called for a review of the 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.”
The assent of the APC-governed states to the resolutions might be a surprising development to political actors because of their rarity in forums critical of Mr Buhari’s administration.
Only PDP Governors Samuel Ortom of Benue State and Mr Nyesom of Rivers have been considered vocal enough to criticise the president’s moves on the worsening security situation in the country.
And when they do, more often than not, the presidency is always quick to react, attacking the critics vehemently.
Apparently, none of the APC governors opposed the resolutions of the Asaba meeting as Mr Akeredolu, who presided over the meeting told Channels TV on Wednesday morning that the resolutions were collectively agreed upon by the governors.
The position of the southern governors also came a few weeks after the APC interim national leadership, admitted that the current security situation across the country was worrisome.
John Akpanudoedehe, the party’s interim national secretary, said the Buhari administration was achieving a lot in infrastructural development but “only in safety can we enjoy the current infrastructure revolution…”
Earlier in the month, the PDP senators and their APC counterparts disagreed over Mr Buhari’s handling of the security situation. But the APC lawmakers said the administration was doing its best to tackle insecurity.
But while many Nigerians lauded the move by the Southern governors because it reflects the current realities, some have feared that the resolution might end up like many recommendations: not implemented.