A former Governor of Ogun State, Chief Segun Osoba, Wednesday cautioned against undermining Southern governors’ decision banning open grazing.
He also called on members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) not to constitute themselves into opposition to the party.
Osoba who spoke as a guest on The Morning Show, a breakfast programme on ARISE NEWS Channel, said the members of APC should respect the call for the ban on open grazing.
He was reacting to the statement of presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, in which the presidency queried the legality of the ban on open grazing by Southern governors.
Osoba said the APC elders were already discussing the issue but regretted a situation where members of the party in government were singing discordant tunes over national issues like open grazing.
He said: “We are one party yet we speak from different views about national issues. Garba Shehu should be careful in his responses to national issues in order not to create division among party members.
“The constitution vested power about Land Use Decree in the governors and the governors are saying they are in control of the land in their states and that they must listen to the people who voted them into power and should be able to protect the people and listen to their complaints.”
He gave instances where Northern governors were the first to recommend ranching, adding that he has travelled to countries that control herds of cattle for commercial purpose like Argentina and did not see cattle movements on the streets of Argentina, including Kenya.
He explained: “So, if Kano governor and other Northern governors have embraced ranching and are willing to donate land for ranching, I do not know why Garba Shehu will be talking contrary to the ban on open grazing.
“If Garba Shehu takes the trouble to study the system in Yoruba land, he will know that we have been co-habiting and we have been keeping each other’s little area. As I said, the situation in Nigeria is going beyond the issue of herders and cattle grazing. He should understand and I insist that terrorists are infiltrating this country, and this is clear when herdsmen start carrying AK-47 rifle instead of the usual stick.
“So the likes of Garba Shehu needs to reflect seriously on the critical challenges of the people of Nigerian. Those who discuss national issues must be careful not to trigger a more dangerous development that the country cannot handle.”
On the clamour for restructuring, he said the APC-led federal government delayed the report submitted in 2018 by the committee headed by Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, on the state of the nation. Osoba said the implementation of the report would not have come so fast because of the national issues involved.
He said: “I will agree with you that some people delayed implementation of that report, but restructuring is not something that can be done overnight. Take, for example, the United Kingdom, as a young man, I thought the UK was just one group, I didn’t know they were more tribalistic than we are in Nigeria. It was in my later days that I realised that the English people dominating the UK are a minority tribe within the United Kingdom, and it took them a long time to organise themselves as the United Kingdom.”
He dismissed claims of factions in the APC, saying that what gave people such an impression are the discordant voices coming from different people because the party has not organised a major event to engage party members since the outbreak of COVID-19.
“All the zoom meetings are not really the kind of meetings that can be used to engage and unite party members. Unfortunately, for a whole year, we have not had the chance to meet,” he said.
He advised the federal government to take a cue from the 1963 Constitution, where provinces were virtually independent of the federal government.
Osoba added that the leaders and elders of the APC in South-west, who produced a nine-point communiqué on the state of the nation will present the document to the National Assembly next week.
He said the document contained all the issues raised at the meeting, which bordered on national issues.
He listed the issues to include devolution of power, true federalism and recommendation for state police, which would be presented to the National Assembly for deliberations and consideration during its planned sitting for a public hearing to discuss the state of the nation.
According to Osoba, “We the leaders and founders of APC went to see President Muhammadu Buhari after our extraordinary meeting and we had serious discussions with him. Our position from the extraordinary meeting, which formed the APC South-west Document was discussed with the president, which includes devolution of power and true federalism among others.
“The document also contains the recommendation for state police and better forms of revenue allocation. We are going to present the document as APC party leaders to the committee of the National Assembly who will be visiting the South-west next week. The document covers every aspect of the concerns of Nigerians.
“One of the concerns of Nigerians, which is about the rotational presidency, which the elders did not see anything wrong in it, is also contained in the document. Also contained in the APC document are all the negotiations of the elders of the party and the National Executive Council, during the formation stage of APC. We intend to have a document that will represent the interest of the South-west when the Senate public hearing begins.”
Emma Okonji and Nosa Alekhuogie