Southern leaders reject grazing bill
Caution Northern Elders Over Statements
The Southern Nigeria People’s Assembly (SNPA) has decried the draft Bill presently before the National Assembly that seeks to establish grazing reserves across the states of Nigeria as not only anachronistic and antiquated, but also an unfortunate elevation of what ought to be private commercial ventures into a national or government business.
A statement by the leaders from the three South geo-political zones, which included former Vice President Alex Ekwueme (represented by former Anambra State Governor Chukuwuemeka Ezeife); Ijaw national leader, Chief Edwin Clark (represented by Senator Roland Owie); and Senator Femi Okorounmu, who stood in for Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi, deplored the rampaging attack, raping and killing of innocent Nigerians especially the more recent killings in Enugu State, Benue State and other parts of the country by the notorious Fulani herdsmen.Ekwueme represented the Southeast, while Clark spoke for the South-South and Gbonigi for the Southeast.
Ekwueme, Clark and Gbonigi said that the Grazing Bill portends danger to the nation, as it would institute a source of permanent conflict in the land, especially the federal structure of the country and the 1999 Constitution, which vest power to hold land on the 36 states of the country and the minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The leaders said: “The President should deal decisively with the issue of Fulani herdsmen in the manner government is dealing with the insurgency problem that, if unchecked, has the capacity to snowball to another Boko Haram.
“Consequently, he should set up a Judicial Panel of Inquiry to investigate all Fulani herdsmen attack between May this year, till date and all those found to be directly or remotely involved in those attacks should be arrested and brought to book.”
Again, the Southern leaders in the statement, which was issued yesterday at the end of a three- day meeting in Asaba, the Delta State capital, observed that the inability of President Muhammadu Buhari to begin the implementation of the resolutions of the 2014 National Conference was objectionable, as the resolutions, if implemented, may help in resolving many political, socio-economic and security challenges of the country.
While calling on Nigerians to support Buhari in his anti-corruption drive, war on insurgency and his efforts at reviving ailing industries, the Southern leaders, however, urged him to respect the rule of law, the protection of citizens’ fundamental human rights and the pronouncements of the courts.
They also advised Northern Elders Forum (NEF) to desist from infusing in the present administration, the “we and they” mentality, which usually creates division and confusion in the polity. “The NEF should realise that Buhari is the President of Nigeria and not the President of Northern Nigeria.