The Presidency on Monday criticised the Southern Governors’ Forum over its ban on open grazing in the region, saying their announcement “is of questionable legality.”
The Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, in his characteristic defence of the rampaging herdsmen, stated that the presidency found “no solution offered from their (Southern Governors’ Forum) resolutions” to the incessant herder-farmer clashes that had plagued the country for years.
Shehu stated in a release that the Presidency had come up with a number of specific measures which would take off in June to address the crisis, even though the Presidency failed to outline the measures.
He said, “The President had approved a number of specific measures to bring a permanent end to the frequent skirmishes as recommended by Alhaji Sabo Nanono, the Minister of Agriculture in a report he submitted and the President signed off on it back in April, well before the actions of the Southern Governors’ Forum which attempts to place a ban on open grazing and other acts of politicking intended by its signatories to demonstrate their power.
“It is very clear that there was no solution offered from their resolutions to the herder-farmer clashes that have been continuing in our country for generations.
“But the citizens of the southern states – indeed citizens of all states of Nigeria – have a right to expect their elected leaders and representatives to find answers to challenges of governance and rights, and not to wash their hands off hard choices by, instead, issuing bans that say: “not in my state.”
“It is equally true that their 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.
“Fortunately, this declaration has been preempted, for whatever it is intended to achieve and Mr President, who has rightly been worried about these problems more than any other citizen in consultation with farmers and herders alike, commissioned and approved an actionable plan of rehabilitating grazing reserves in the states, starting with those that are truly committed to the solution and compliant with stated requirements.”
Shehu added that the Federal Government “is making far-reaching and practical changes allowing for different communities to co-exist side-by-side: supporting farmers to till their fields, herders to rear their livestock and Nigerians everywhere to be safe.”
“The entire country is acutely aware of the strain the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on public finances, for both Federal and States. Still, given the pressing urgency of addressing the perennial challenges, the federal funding for the project that has been delayed is now being partly unlocked. Actual work for the full actualisation of the modern reserve system in a few of the consenting states should take off in June,” the statement added.
The SGF earlier this month had at a meeting in Asaba, Delta State, jointly passed a resolution banning open grazing across the zone, due to the violent clashes between herdsmen and farmers which have claimed thousands of lives across various communities.