South-east Governors Vow Not to Donate Land for Ranching

  •  Insist on restructuring

By Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu

Governors of the South-east zone yesterday declared that the zone would not donate any land for the purpose of cattle ranching, and decried the incessant clashes between farmers and herdsmen in the zone.

The governors also reiterated their earlier stand that restructuring remained the only way forward for Nigeria.

Rising from a four-hour closed door meeting at the Government House in Enugu, the Enugu State capital, the governors stated that they had noted the increased challenges in the movement of herdsmen from one state and region to another with the attendant clashes with farmers.

In a nine-point communique read to journalists at the end of the meeting by the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief Dave Umahi, the governors expressed dismay over the huge sum of money they spend in paying farmers whose crops are destroyed by herdsmen.

The governors called for an emergency meeting in the zone with heads of the federal security agencies,  farmers and herdsmen in order to stop the movement and prevent the clashes.

“Let’s make it clear that no land in the South-east has been donated for ranching and the federal government has not asked us to do so either. We have not approved any land for ranching and we will never do so because we don’t even have enough land in our zone for our use, let alone for ranching,” Umahi said.

While condemning the recent gruesome murder of innocent citizens in Plateau State, the governors joined other zones in demanding justice for Plateau people and also commiserated with the governor of the state over the unfortunate development.

Umahi said the meeting which also had in attendance some other major stakeholders, including the President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo; chairmen of traditional rulers from the five states of the zone as well as former Minister of Power, Prof. Bart Nnaji, among others, received presentations from the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation on the vexed issue of restructuring.

While reiterating its earlier stand that restructuring remains the only way forward for Nigeria, the governors resolved to take a studied look at the template of restructuring  and will make its final stand clear by its next meeting.

The governors also resolved the crisis in the Traditional Rulers’ Council as it approved that the leadership would henceforth operate on a two-year rotational principle. Based on the arrangement, the forum declared that the incumbent Chairman, Eze Eberechi Dick from Abia State will hand over to the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, with effect from August 1, 2018.

They also approved a partnership between the governors  and E-Health Africa for health interventions and establishment of world-class health facilities in all the states of the zone, and accordingly, set up a health consultative committee comprising the Commissioners for Health in the various states of the zone, health experts and development partners to pursue health interventions in the area.

The governors also approved to support the setting up of an Industrial and Infrastructural Development Bank to fast track capital flow for rapid development of the region as a private initiative.

The forum also offered to take responsibility for safeguarding the NNPC pipelines if they are engaged to do so in view of the briefing it received that repair works were ongoing at the Emene depot.

Apart of Governor Umahi and Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Deputy Governors of Abia, Ude Oko-Chukwu and Anambra, Nkem Okeke, stood in for their states. Governor Rochas Okorocha was absent.