Amid grieving over the deaths of the Chief of Army Staff and 10 other officers, President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday took a swipe at the recent resolutions of Southern governors on open grazing by herders in the region and other national issues.
The Presidency, in a statement, lambasted the governors of “playing politics to demonstrate their power.”
He accused the governors of failing to offer any solution to the farmers/ herders crisis which has bedevilled the nation for decades but instead imposed a ban.
Persecondnews recalls that the governors had last week met in Asaba, Delta State, with a resolution to ban open grazing in their states which had attracted criticism from the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami (SAN).
But Mr Femi Falana (SAN) and other lawyers had faulted Malami’s position, comparing ban on open grazing with a likely banning of sale of spare parts by southerners in the North.
The Presidency insisted that the southern governors’ stance had questionable constitutional legality given the right of citizens to enjoy the same rights and freedom as everyone else in all the states of the federation.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed a strong resolve to address the conflicts of herders and farmers in a sustained and lasting manner that should lead to the emergence of a permanent solution to the frequent clashes between them, as well as the associated problem of the gun-wielding ‘killer herdsmen.’
“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.
“With veterinary clinics, water points for animals, and facilities for herders and their families including schooling – through these rehabilitated reserves, 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,” Buhari’s media aide, Garba Shehu, said
The Presidency recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had already approved specific measures to bring the incessant farmers/herders clashes to an end.
“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,” Buhari said.