Rivers Won’t be Part of Settlement for Herdsmen, Vows Wike

  • NEF wants harassment of Fulani, cattle checked

By Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, has vowed that the state would not participate in any settlement scheme for herdsmen just as he declared that Nigeria required divine intervention to overcome her present developmental and security challenges under the current dispensation.

This is as the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has called on the federal and state governments to adopt policies and positions that would address the harassment of Fulani and their cattle, and also de-escalation of inciting rhetoric and actions.

Wike also reiterated the state’s rejection of any settlement scheme for herdsmen in the state, saying that Rivers lands could not be used for such ventures at any time.

Speaking during a courtesy visit by Founder and President of Throne-Room Trust Ministries, Apostle Nuhu Kure, at the Government House Port Harcourt yesterday, Wike emphasised that Rivers State remained a Christian State and would continue  to seek the face of God at all  times.

He said: “God loves Nigeria.  If not for God, there will be no Nigeria.  With what we are seeing, we need God’s serious intervention. We need men of God to continue to pray for this country.

“Like I said, Rivers State will not participate in any settlement programme for herdsmen by whatever name it is called. I speak as the governor of Rivers State.

“If they want water for the cattle, they can lay pipes from the Bonny Ocean to the far North for the cattle. That is what we can contribute. We don’t have lands for any settlement scheme. Our land is for commercial agriculture.”

He explained his popular declaration that Rivers State is a Christian State.

“As a governor of the state, this is a Christian state. When you take a population count, 99 per cent of our people are Christians. We have other people here, but we are predominantly Christians.  I have no apologies to anyone, Rivers State is a Christian state,” he insisted.

Earlier, Kure, said the ministry was holding an emergency Prayer Summit to pray for the survival of the country.

He called on the federal government to immediately arrest the Northern youths who gave other Nigerians ultimatum over the Fulani herdsmen settlements programme.

“I want to use this opportunity to say that whatever is coming from those youths in the North is not a representation of the North. I want to take advantage of my visit to appeal to the federal government through you that people who are going to this extreme should be arrested. If government cannot call these people to order, it means we have a lawless society. It means we don’t have a government.

“I want to congratulate you not just for your fight for justice, but for the developmental strides that we see that you do. It is like you are holding the sword with one hand and holding the hoe with the other hand.  You are busy tilling the land and growing up things and at the same time stopping the enemies at the gate.”

The Northern Elders Forum which spoke through its Deputy Convener, Alhaji Yahaya Kwande, added that it would equally engage with the Northern Governors Forum (NGF) and the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) and  any Nigerian who seeks genuine solutions to the problems being faced by Northern communities and the livestock industry.

The federal government had suspended the Ruga Scheme following public outcry and the seeming misconception about the Ruga Settlement Projects, an idea designed to stem the tide of herdsmen/farmers clashes across the country.

Kwande said NEF had taken note of the steps taken by the federal government as well as diverse positions adduced by groups and interests from the South and those from Northern Nigeria. The northern elders said that in particular, it had taken note of the presentations made at a press conference held by the CNG on the latest developments in the worrying failure to find solutions to the problems related to management of the livestock assets of Nigerians.

He said the leadership of the NEF has also received the decent and statesmanlike reaction of the Chairman of Northern Governors Forum, Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, in which he disclosed the Forum’s move to reach out to stakeholders in the matter including  CNG.

The forum cautioned CNG to exercise responsible restraint and take no further action in view of the potentially productive involvement of Northern governors and other respected Nigerians.

Kwande stated: “Most Nigerians recognise the genuine grounds for raising serious grievances in the light of provocations and apparent lack of sensitivity to a matter that affects the North and indeed the rest of Nigeria in a most critical manner. “Northern Governors’ concerns and commitment to find solutions to a problem which is

not being adequately addressed and one which has the potential to create additional security and economic problems for the nation is welcome. “NEF will engage with the Forum and the Coalition and any Nigerian who seeks genuine solutions to the problems being faced by Northern communities and the livestock industry.

“Federal and state governments must adopt policies and positions which address the

harassment of Fulani and their cattle, de-escalation of inciting rhetoric and actions and short and long-term solutions to the problems which could damage the livestock industry, worsen community relations and threaten national security.

“The nation should remain sensitive to its rising deficits in security of lives and economic

assets and must do everything possible not to escalate tensions and distrust among Nigerians.

“Finally, as we urge the Northerners to heed the call for restraint made by the Coalition earlier pending the outcome of the meetings with the Northern Governors when NEF shall come out with a definite position on the matter,” he added.