Abuja – Afenifere and Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide yesterday backed the ban on open grazing by southern governors.
They also welcomed the governors’ demand for power shift to the South in 2023.
Afenifere urged states yet to enact the anti-open law to do so immediately.
The 17 governors met in Lagos last Monday and reinforced resolutions reached at their May 11 meeting in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
They maintained that power must shift to the South in 2023, and agreed to enact anti-open grazing laws by September 1.
Ohanaeze’s position is contained in a communiqué issued after its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting at its secretariat in Enugu.
It was signed by its spokesman, Alex Ogbonnia.
The organisation said: “We strongly support the stand taken by the Southern Governors Forum on anti-open grazing, restructuring, rotation of the President of Nigeria to the South in 2023, and the proposed five per cent share of the Petroleum Industries Bill (PIB) for the host communities.”
Afenifere urged President Muhammadu Buhari to restructure Nigeria before the end of the year.
This, it said, should include state police and reorganisation of fiscal policies to take effect by the middle of next year.
The group made the call in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi.
It was part of the resolutions of its executive council meeting held at the Lagos residence of its Acting Leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo .
According to Afenifere, the signs “are ominous, requiring steps to prevent the country from an apocalypse.”
It said: “Afenifere is in full support of the governors to have laws banning open grazing latest by September 1.
“We noticed that some states already have this law enacted. We urge the remaining states to enact the law expeditiously.
“Beyond the enactment, however, we call for immediate enforcement of the law so as to put an end to various vices that the act of open grazing is engendering.”
The organisation wondered why some northern groups are dissatisfied with the Southern governors’ resolutions.
“Of what intrinsic benefits has open grazing been in the recent past going by various studies that have been done?
“It is on record, for instance, that open grazing is one of the major causes of desertification that is occurring in the northern part of the country.
“It is also on record that cows reared in a ranch are far more productive, healthier and are less tasking for the rearer compared to the ones being driven from one place to another in search of food and water.
“And certainly those in ranches constitute less risk to neighbouring communities compared to the ones migrating from one place to another,” Afenifere said.
The organisation maintained that the seemingly intractable security challenges in the country are due largely to governors being hamstrung.
“The governors are described as chief security officers of their respective states, yet they have no security agency that can be deployed to where crimes are being committed with arms.
“They do not have a security agency that can arrest, investigate and prosecute.
“Those of them who came up with some security apparatus like Amotekun are disempowered because they could not bear arms. And when they arrest suspected criminals, such suspects must be handed over to the police.
“As experiences have shown, once this is done, hardly do such cases go beyond the police. And the state security body has no control anymore since the police is a federal agency that does not take orders from the governor.
“This must change. State police, down to the level of local government, must become operational immediately,” Afenifere said.
It called on President Buhari, the national and state assemblies “and all other concerned authorities to ensure that restructuring takes place within the remaining part of this year”.
“Its implementation in terms of true federalism in finance, security, social welfare etc must begin before the middle of next year,” the apex Yoruba organisation said.
Among those at the meeting were the Deputy Leader Oba Oladipo Olaitan; Secretary-General Chief Sola Ebiseni; Treasurer Chief Supo Sonibare and National Organising Secretary Abagun Kole Omololu.
Others are Publicity Secretary Comrade Jare Ajayi; Secretary for the Diaspora Adebayo Adenekan, an engineer; Director of Research Dr. Akin Fapohunda and Mogaji Gboyega Adejumo.