Seeks solution to growing agitation for restructuring
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) is not happy with the federal government for its alleged silence on intermittent clashes between herdsmen and farmers in different parts of the country.
It blamed the federal government for failing to evolve a nationwide transition programme for herdsmen to embrace ranching as a solution to the persistent clashes.
It therefore wants government to step in immediately and address the problem for peace to reign.
The group, at an extraordinary session with Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State in Markurdi, also advised government to accept the socio-economic advocacy from southern Nigeria as a solution to the growing agitation for restructuring.
The Southern Leaders Forum (SLF) at its last meeting in Lagos last week disagreed with President Muhammadu Buhari’s position on agitations for restructuring insisting that only restructuring will ensure the unity, peace and development of the country.
Buhari in his last Monday’s national broadcast had said Nigeria’s unity is settled and non-negotiable.
Emerging from the NEF’s session with Ortom yesterday, its spokesperson, Mr. Mustapha Wali, told reporters that the federal government “has failed in intervening in sorting out these matters nationwide, all you hear are conferences and seminars of academics but the practical applicable and interventionist stage as it is happening now, is what should have been the case.
“Now that Benue has taken the bull by the horn as they say, we have to put a proposition for capital intensive possibilities for this transitional situations where the herdsmen are taught to ranch and to know that they are bitter times during transition and therefore, the federal government cannot avoid the responsibility of coming in to assist all the states and harmonize all these problems.
“It is in this respect as the convener (Dr. Paul Unongo) has stated, that we now intend to set-up a special intervention committee for the purposes of intervening in these kinds of situations, the transitional and legal situations to ensure there are no problems that will arise which are fully avoidable”. Governor Ortom in an attempt to mobilize support for the open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment bill 2017, urged leaders in the region to speak up and find solution to the raging herdsmen/farmers conflict.
He said: “Our leaders have chosen to keep quiet and it is something that is to me a keg of gun-powder and we need to arise to our responsibilities as leaders to check this problem, the problem of herdsmen and farmers.
“Benue State in particular, was under siege since 2012, 13 local governments were completely displaced out of 23 local government, including my own local government.
“While serving as minister, my ancestral home was attacked and destroyed and that day alone, 53 of my people were murdered in cold blood, my farm was razed and destroyed.”