What we need now is sovereign national conference, not political conference, Prof Akintoye slams southern governors
Back governors on ban of open grazing in Southern Nigeria
The leader of the Yoruba World Congress (YWC), Professor Stephen Banji Akintoye has chided Southern Governors following the Asaba Declaration asking the Federal Government to convoke a national dialogue as a matter of urgency.
Professor Akintoye made the remarks in a statementissued by his communications Manager, Mr. Maxwell Adeleye on Wednesday.
Recall that seventeen governors from southern Nigeria had converged at the Government House in Asaba, the Delta State capital, over the protracted insecurity bedeviling the southern regions.
The Southern governors resolved amongst others that:
- the Federal Government should convoke a national dialogue as a matter of urgency;
- open grazing of cattle be banned across Southern Nigeria;
- review appointments into Federal Government Agencies (including Security Agencies) to reflect federal character;
- owing to the continued gridlock on the Oshodi – Apapa Expressway with the nation’s economy in view, recommended the activation and establishment of ports in other States of the federation to create new jobs and promote socio-economic activities in the country;
- President should address Nigerians on the challenges of insecurity and restore the confidence of our people.
Reacting, Professor Akintoye said that what the southern people need now is sovereign national conference, not political conference.
He, however, backed the governors on ban of open grazing in Southern Nigeria considering the insecurity in the Southern region.
The statement, as made available by Akintoye’s communications Manager reads as follows:
“Our Governors in the South deserve the gratitude of all of us their people for hurrying to hold a meeting on the terrible insecurity that is ravaging all the peoples of the South.
“We their people should commend them for the considerable amount of bravery that they have shown in their communique.
“In particular, it gladdens the heart that our Governors now have the courage to decide to eliminate open grazing of cattle in all parts of the South. That is a historic decision of great significance.
“So, we their people are looking forward to two things now concerning that decision; first, what are the processes by which the Governors intend to carry out this decision, especially in the face of predictable Federal opposition and resistance to the decision?
“Secondly, what do our Governors intend to do in replacement of cattle grazing?
“What we the people propose is that our Governors should embark upon the policy of encouraging our indigenous entrepreneurs to venture into modern cattle ranching in their own homelands.
“If we make a success of this, it will eliminate the need for open grazing of cattle in our land forever.
“Altogether, we the peoples of the South assure our Governors that if they sincerely go forward to embark on implementing this decision, we will support them every inch of the way and with all the strength at our disposal.
“For us the peoples of the South concerning the open grazing of cattle, “Enough is now Enough “.
“However, we are surprised that our Governors are still calling on the Federal Government to come and deal with insecurity in the South.
“The Federal Government had recently made a statement that it is not responsible for fighting against banditry, kidnapping and raping, therefore, what should have been decided by our Governors is how they will replace the Federal Government in the fight against insecurity in the various states of the South.
“It does not make sense that they are calling upon the Federal Government to come and bring insecurity to an end after the Federal Government has made a statement that it is not responsible for such functions.
“What our Governors should have decided is how they would tackle insecurity in their various States.
“We therefore respectfully call on our Governors to go back to the meeting table again and take decisions on how they will tackle various aspects of insecurity such as kidnapping for ransom, killings, maimings, destruction, banditry, raping and others.
“The Federal Government has abdicated responsibility in these matters and we need our State government’s to step boldly into the gap.
“We are surprised that our Southern State Governors have held a meeting without considering the issue of domestic and international terrorism as it affects the South.
“We know today, that a combination of terrorist groups such as ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Quieda and others have entrenched themselves decisively in Niger State, immediately to the North of the Southwest thereby standing in a position to have easy access to the Southwest and the rest of the South.
“At the same time, an important world power, the United States of America, has alerted the world that ISIS and its allies have infiltrated the South from the sea.
“The Federal Government is not saying or doing anything about all these. Again, our State governments must step into the gap and do the needful.
“Our Governors speak of agitations for inclusiveness in appointments into the Federal government and its agencies in Nigeria as if that is the only kind of agitation that is going on in Nigeria.
“While there is agitation for inclusiveness, there is bigger and wider agitations for self determination of the various peoples of the South and the Middle belt accounting for a total of three quarters of the population of Nigeria.
“Our Governors ask for a conference to consider the question of inequality in the appointments into the Federal Government, but that is not really the kind of conference Nigeria needs right now.
“The kind of conference that Nigeria needs is a conference for the purpose of negotiating with the various peoples of the South and Middle belt of Nigeria concerning the assertion of their national self determination.
“That is the greatest need of the moment. Behaving as if it does not exist is unfortunate.
“Every nationality in Nigeria has a right to self determination and the right to seek to assert its self determination.
“The people of the South and Middle belt are doing just that now, and the Nigerian government needs to step forward to negotiate with them in order to prevent ultimate chaos in the dissolution of Nigeria.
“Self determination of the various nationalities of Nigeria is today the idea whose time has come in Nigeria, and it will have its way, one way or another.
“What is needed now is that it should not be allowed to have its way through chaos, violence, and human suffering.
“We ask that our Governors should go back to the meeting table again and give serious and statesmanly consideration to the determination of the various peoples of the South and the middle belt to assert their self determination in a peaceful manner according to International Law.”
Banji Akintoye (born 1935), is a Nigerian-born academic, historian and writer.
He taught at the History Department at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, where he became a professor and Director of the Institute of African Studies from 1974-1977.