Following the resolution of the Tuesday’s meeting of the Southern Governors Forum in Asaba, Delta State, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) Wednesday accused the forum of playing politics with the security situation in the south.
The ACF faulted the silence of the governors on the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and other secessionist groups.
Security experts also expressed concern that the governors were silent on the killings of operatives and attacks on security formations by gunmen in the South East and South South.
Speaking with Daily Trust on Phone, ACF National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, said: “They’re playing politics. I wouldn’t say they’re intimidated, maybe they do not want to offend what appears to be the feelings of the youths of the South.
“Some youths want to push through an agenda and see the governors as an obstacle to whatever agenda they want to push either to secede or antagonize the North and so in order to save their skin, they (governors) wouldn’t want to be seen to be attacking what the youths are doing even though they know it’s not correct, so I think they are just trying to save their skin,” he said.
Yawe said some of the points presented by the southern governors in their communique were not new and had long been accepted by the ACF. “They spoke about restructuring and open grazing. On the issue of open grazing, at our last National Working Committee meeting in Kaduna, the national leader of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria spoke against open grazing, they want government to create ranches and they’re willing to go into ranching.”
‘Govs should have condemned killings of operatives in S/east’
A retired director of the Department of State Service, Mike Ejiofor, said the governors should have condemned the attacks on security formations in the southeast.
He said they might have decided to be silent on the issue because the attackers were yet to be identified.
“I want to believe it’s an oversight. It’s quite unfortunate. Everybody has been condemning the killings,” he said.
Also, a security risk management and intelligence specialist, Kabir Adamu, said the southern governors put most of the security challenges in the region on the activities of herders, thus banning open grazing in all the states of the region.
“From January to May, we’ve documented at least 55 attacks on security formations in the South East. Most analysts have put those attacks on the doorsteps of two major organisations – either ESN, the armed wing of IPOB or the Biafra League of Nigeria, BLN. In fact, BLN has released a couple of statements suggesting that it is complicit in the attacks,” he said.
We’re critically studying resolutions-NEF
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) said it was critically studying the recommendations and resolutions of the southern governors banning open grazing and calling on President Buhari to convene a national dialogue.
Director of Publicity and Advocacy, NEF, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, described the meeting of the governors as a “serious development in the context of current issues facing the country.”
“We’ve noted some of the recommendations, some of the resolutions of the meeting. The Northern Elders Forum will submit them to very critical scrutiny. At this stage, we’d advise that the North should react very carefully to these types of developments and not read other meanings into them or react to what they see as manifestations of either hostilities or provocations,” he said.
Baba-Ahmed said in the meantime, it was important to appeal to northerners living in the southern parts of the country to remain calm and law abiding.
He called on southern governors to continue to protect northern communities living in the south.
He said the NEF had made its position known on the killings of state agents and attacks on government structures in the southeast.
He said it would be a terrible mistake for anyone to think the attacks were regional issues, adding that it was a national issue and every Nigerian must be concerned about what “appears to be a consistent drive to isolate the southeast from the rest of Nigeria.”
“This must not be allowed to happen and the leadership of the South East and in fact, all the South, should lead decisively to retrieve their territories and limit the damages of organisations like IPOB and other secessionist groups squeezing the Nigerian state out of that territory.
“We have a right to be worried about this because every inch of Nigeria is our concern. Even though we are northerners, we believe that local leadership should take the lead in protecting citizens and the integrity of the Nigerian state,” he said.
Meanwhile, leaders of socio-cultural groups in the South East, South South and South West represented by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and Afenifere, yesterday applauded the resolutions reached by the seventeen southern governors during the meeting held on Tuesday in Asaba, Delta state.
Afenifere spokesman, Jare Ajayi, said the resolutions showed the governors were now waking up from slumber to set aside political differences and face the threat of insecurity in the region.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo’s spokesman, Alex Ogbonnia, told Daily Trust on the telephone that the group backed the governors’ decisions on the ban of open grazing in the southern part of the country, restructuring of the federation of Nigeria, the call on the president to convoke a national dialogue, commitment to the nation’s unity, insistence on the federal character commission, among others.
PANDEF, in a statement by its spokesman, Ken Robinson, said the resolutions reached by the governors re-emphasized its positions, particularly on the alarming state of insecurity in the South East and South South, restructuring and open grazing.
“PANDEF had repeatedly averred that open grazing is outdated. It is archaic and should not be allowed to continue in a society like ours.
“The days of open grazing are over and the sooner those who are in that business realize it, the better for all of us.”
Attacks on security operatives, facilities
Asked why the governors were silent on the activities of IPOB and its paramilitary arm, the Eastern Security Network (ESN), the Afenifere’s spokesman said the governors must have discussed it and decided not to make their resolutions public.
The PANDEF spokesman, on his part, said the killing of security personnel and destruction of security facilities in the South East and South South by gunmen were part of the general insecurity in Nigeria which the southern governors highlighted in their communique.
Ogbonnia said Ohaneze Ndigbo believed that the governors must have been guided by the agenda of their meeting.