Okorocha absent as South-east governors meet, oppose ranching

South-East Governors [Photo: twitter.com]
South-East Governors [Photo: twitter.com]

Governors of the South-eastern states on Sunday night in Enugu, announced that no state in the region will donate any land for the federal government’s proposed establishment of cattle ranches in the zone.

The governors of Enugu (Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi), Ebonyi (David Umahi) were in attendance, while Abia and Anambra were represented by their deputy governors.

However, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo did not attend. His deputy, Ezeakonobi Madumere, with whom who he has been having a running battle, was also absent. Mr Okorocha is the only governor from the South-east who is a member of Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress.

Briefing journalists after the meeting, the chairman of the forum, David Umahi, said the governors agreed that ranching would not be allowed in the zone.

Mr Umahi said no state in the South-east has agreed to provide land for the establishment of ranches, contrary to the federal government’s explanation.

PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported how the National Economic Council (NEC) announced that 10 states across the country had agreed to provide land for ranching, to permanently solve the herders and farmers violence. Ebonyi was the only state in the South-east among the 10 states mentioned at the event attended by the agriculture minister, Audu Ogbeh, and Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.

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Although all state governors are members of the NEC which reportedly took the decision, the South-east governors said they were not party to it.

While noting that the the federal government had not asked for any land for ranches, Mr Umahi said the South-east governors would not accede to such a request, should it be made.

“No land in the South-east has been donated for ranching. We have not donated any land; we have not been asked to donate and we are not going to donate.

“Ranching is not approved by the South-east governors in the South-east,” he said

The governors, while condemning the recent killings in Plateau State, raised alarm over what they termed as challenges posed by the movement of herdsmen in the South-east.

They agreed to meet with heads of federal security agencies over the development.

“The South-east governors forum commiserates with the governor of Plateau State and the people of the state for the recent killings.

“We condemn the killings and join other regions to demand justice for the Plateau people.

“South-east governors have noticed increased challenges in the movement of herdsmen from one state and region to another with the resultant effect of massive destruction of farmlands with attendant clashes with farmers.

“South-east governors have been spending huge funds in settling farmers whose farms and crops are destroyed – we, therefore, request an emergency meeting in the South-east with federal security chiefs, farmers and herdsmen to stop the movements and prevent clashes.”, they said

The President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Nnia Nwodo, presented the association’s ‘template on restructuring’ to the governors at the meeting, which ended late on Sunday evening.

The South-east governors, in a reaction on the presentation, re-affirmed their demand for restructuring.

“Ndigbo’s stand on restructuring of Nigeria was presented to the South-east Governors Forum by the Ohanaeze President, based on the resolutions arising from the Awka enlarged Igbo meeting.

“He (Ohanaeze President) also laid down the template for the governors. The Forum thanked Ohanaeze on a job well done and reiterated its earlier stand that restructuring is the only way forward for Nigeria.

“The Forum also decided that the governors should take a studied look at the template of restructuring and will make its final stand clear by the next meeting of the Forum,” the communiqué said.

The governors, at the meeting, observed that the ‘dispute’ between the governments of Anambra and Ebonyi states over the recent renaming of Abakiliki Street in Awka, Anambra State, was due to “communication gap which is already being closed.”

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