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.”