The collective ban on open grazing by Southern Governors is a landmark decision. Although belated, we commend the Governors for meeting, discussing and uniting, for the first time, on an issue. They dared to take a stand on a matter that has ridiculed Nigeria before the nations.
It is important to note that the 17 Governors met, not along ethnic, religious, or political lines but socio-economic, to take decisions without fear of intimidation by the godfathers. This shows that a better society is possible. That is, a society where the common good overrides other considerations.
However, we note with concern the reaction of President Muhammadu Buhari or the Presidency, as the office is addressed, when Malam Garba Shehu , the President’s spokesman on media and publicity, is seemingly reading his own script. His position is strange and laughable. Rather than commend the Governors and respect their unanimous view, Mallam Shehu angrily told them their decision is illegal and violated the rights of every Nigerian to live and do business in any part of the country. Mallam Shehu could not hide his surprise that Governors spoke with one voice. He spoke as if the problem with open grazing was that of the right of every Nigerian to “do business in another part” rather than some Nigerians and their foreign kinsmen wanting to destroy others and take over their land.
Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami also told the governors that their decision was unconstitutional. He advised them to seek a review of the 1999 constitution if they want to ban open grazing. One may conclude that Malami is suggesting that things should be left as they are until the 1999 constitution is amended.
We take solace in Governor Akeredolu’s, his fellow SAN’s response that the Governors decision is irreversible.
It is clear that much of the insecurity plaguing Nigeria is as a result of the Fulani killer herdsmen attempting to take over farmlands, forests and sections of the South-South , South West and South-East.
For several years now, people have been crying out over activities of these herdsmen, wreaking havoc on other people’s means of livelihood. Hundreds have lost their lives in the hands of these killers and neither Garba nor Malami has reminded anyone that all Nigerians are equal under the constitution and that each life is important. Instead, Shehu is telling us that the presidency will commence partial implementation of its plan to set up grazing reserves, starting from June in so-called willing states.
We know that no Southern state will be willing to share its land with killer Fulani herders, local and foreign, whose game plan is to slaughter and settle.