South-West leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Sunday restated their commitment to the unity, stability and sustainability of Nigeria, warning secession agitators and those making hate speeches to desist from acts capable of destabilising the country.
In a four-hour meeting held at the State House, Marina in Lagos, the leaders, in a nine-point communiqué read by Chief Bisi Akande, former Osun State governor, endorsed the decision taken by Southern governors on the ban on open grazing in all the 17 Southern states and their recommendation that the Federal Government should support willing states to develop alternative and modern livestock management systems.
While acknowledging the worsening insecurity challenge in the country, the leaders said public officials should refrain from making inflammatory statements that can worsen the country’s situation. But rather unite so as to jointly surmount the problems threatening the nation’s peaceful existence.
The communiqué read, “The leaders commiserate with and condole the President and Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari, the military authorities, families of the Chief of Army Staff and other officers who died, and indeed the entire nation over last Friday’s tragic plane crash in Kaduna.
“They expressed their strong opposition to separatist agitations and hate speeches. While urging those indulging in such to desist forthwith, they renewed their belief in the unity, stability and sustainability of the country.
“We note with significant concern the security situation in the country. Terrorism and violent criminality threaten many areas, adversely affecting the lives and livelihoods of too many innocent and peace-loving Nigerians. While mindful of the resource and other constraints facing the nation, we urge the Federal Government to continue to make the necessary expenditures and allocate sufficient resources to enable the military and security agencies to tackle the difficult security challenges confronting us.
“For Nigeria to overcome these challenges, we must do so with unity of purpose and action. The desire for peace and the chance for a prosperous and just society is universal and transcends all regional, religious or ethnic divisions.
“We urge government at all levels, security agencies, and public leaders across the country to do everything possible to prevent tension so that we sustain the necessary unity to defeat these challenges to our national security. All responsible Nigerians must speak and act in a manner that strengthen our commence use against these common threats to our collective peace, justice and development.
“We restate our abhorrence of violence as a means to achieve either political or economic power and influence. We strongly condemn violence of any form in any part of the country, regardless of ethnic or regional identity of the perpetrators of the violence or of the victims. Government must do all it can to protect potential victims and to assist those who have previously been victimised by terrorism or widespread banditry.”
The leaders, who also canvassed support for true federalism and allocation of more resources to states agreed that doing so will allow states effectively tackle localised issues before they degenerate to a national scale.
“We hold to the view that true federalism where more power and resources are allocated to the states will be an essential part in strengthening society and improving democratic governance so that we beat the present challenges but also engender durable peace and security.
“True federalism and the reallocation of resources and authority that comes with it will empower the states to solve localised issues before they spread and transform into national ones. In addition to mitigating political competition for control of the national government, greater federalism will empower grassroots economic development and political reforms that will stand as bulwarks against the terrorism and criminality now experienced in too many parts of the nation. A hallmark of this enhanced federalism will be the establishment of state police forces.
“We endorse the position of the Southern governors taken at their May 11, 2021 summit in Asaba, Delta State, regarding ranching. We do so because such a decision will lessen tensions between farmers and herders while also helping the long-term economic viability of both the farming and herding communities. We are mindful of the short-term dislocation this might cause but are also mindful that this position is in the best interests of all parties concerned.
“We, therefore, recommend that the federal and state governments cooperate fully with each other to enact the necessary measures to encourage this more effective and modern method of cattle-rearing so that both farmers and herders can pursue their livelihoods with greater productivity and in a more cooperative relationship that minimises the friction between these two important pillars of our agricultural economy.
“We also thank traditional rulers for their important role in the polity and appeal to them to keep intervening to maintain peace and stability. And finally, we use the opportunity of the meeting to urge the Federal Government to provide, through the CBN, short, medium and long term financing for states and those who may wish to set up ranches as part of the agricultural sustainability policy”.
In attendance at the meeting were Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives; Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, APC national leader; Aremo Olusegun Osoba, former Ogun State governor; Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos; Dapo Abiodun of Ogun and Gboyega Oyetola of Osun.
Others are Niyi Adebayo, Minister of Trade and Industry; Pius Akinyelure, former APC South-West vice-chairman and elder statesman, Gen. Alani Akinrinade (rtd).
South-West APC leaders who were absent and did not send representatives include Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State; Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State; Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Interior, and Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Works and Housing.