Fayemi, Akeredolu absent as South-West leaders endorse ranching, state police

Leaders of the All Progressives Congress in the South-West, including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and governors in the region, on Sunday reinforced the call for true federalism and ban of open grazing in the country.

The party leaders, who met in Lagos, backed some of the decisions of the Southern governors in Asaba, Delta State, saying there was the need for the Federal Government to address insecurity in the country.

Also at the meeting were the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; governors of Lagos, Ogun and Osun states, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Mr Dapo Abiodun and Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, respectively; a former interim chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande; General Alani Akinrinde (rtd.); a former governor of Ogun State, Aremo Segun Osoba; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Pius Akinyelure, among others.

Reading the nine points communiqué at the end of the deliberation, Akande, who convened the meeting, said they were concerned about the state of the nation.

The communiqué reads partly, “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 are universal and transcend all regional, religious or ethnic divisions. Sadly, many public figures have made statements that spark division and undermine the needed unity of purpose.

“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.

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“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 minimizes the friction between these two important pillars of our agricultural economy.”

However, the Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and his Ekiti State counterpart, Dr Kayode Fayemi, were not at the meeting.

Efforts to speak to Akeredolu’s Chief Press Secretary, Olabode Olatunde, and the state Commissioner for Information, Donald Ojogo, were not successful.

But the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Kayode Fayemi on Public Communication, Segun Dipe, said he did not know the governor’s itinerary.

Dipe said, “I honestly will not know whether he was at the meeting or not.”

A source close to the governors said they did not attend the meeting because it was anchored on the ambition of an individual.

He said, “We cannot be part of such meeting which was held under the guise of somebody’s ambition when the country is facing myriad of crises.”

But Adebayo was said to have apologised on behalf of Akeredolu and Fayemi, saying they had other previous scheduled engagements.

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