South-west Leaders Tell Region’s Separatist Agitators to Back Off

Secessionist agitators yesterday got a call from leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-west to pull the break on their advocacy.
The APC leaders, who rose from a meeting in Lagos, expressed their opposition to separatist agitations and hate speeches.

They urged separatist advocates to desist forthwith, and renewed their belief in the unity, stability and sustainability of the country.

The call came against the backdrop of the ongoing agitation in the South-west for a Yoruba nation.
Despite warnings by the federal government and some personalities in the zone, the promoters of the secessionist agenda have been rallying support for their cause.

So far, they’ve held rallies in Abeokuta, Ibadan, Osogbo with the latest at the weekend in Akure.
They APC South-west leaders also called on the federal government to devolve more powers to states by ensuring true federalism in order to strengthen democratic governance.

The leaders, at the meeting summoned by a former Interim National Chairman of the ruling party, Chief Adebisi Akande, and attended by the National Leader of the APC, Senator Bola Tinubu and the five governors of the party in the zone, among others, also called for reallocation of resources to tame the economic hardship driving the deteriorating security situation in the country.

In a nine-point communiqué read by Akande, the leaders also endorsed the ban on open grazing by Southern governors, saying the measure will reduce the tension between herders and farmers and minimise the friction in the country.
He said: “We hold to the view that true federalism where more power and resources are allocated to the states will be an essential part in strengthening society and improving democratic governance so that we beat the present challenges but also engender durable peace and security.

“True federalism and the reallocation of resources and authority that comes with it will empower the states to solve localised issues before they spread and transform into national ones. In addition to mitigating political competition for control of the national government, greater federalism will empower grassroots economic development and political reforms that will stand as bulwarks against the terrorism and criminality now experienced in too many parts of the nation. A hallmark of this enhanced federalism will be the establishment of state police forces.”

On the ban on open grazing by Southern governors, the APC leaders said: “We endorse the position of the Southern governors, taken at their May 11, 2021 summit in Asaba, Delta State, regarding ranching. We do so because such a decision will lessen tensions between farmers and herders while also helping the long-term economic viability of both the farming and herding communities.

“We are mindful of the short-term dislocation this might cause but are also mindful that this position is in the best interests of all parties concerned. We, therefore, recommend that the federal and state governments cooperate fully with each other to enact the necessary measures to encourage this more effective and modern method of cattle-rearing so that both farmers and herders can pursue their livelihoods with greater productivity and in a more cooperative relationship that minimises the friction between these two important pillars of our agricultural economy.”

While commiserating with President Muhammadu Buhari on the death of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, the APC leaders expressed concern “about the state of the nation, particularly the serious security challenges that faced the country.”
They also condemned separatist agitations and hate speeches and urged those indulging in such activities to desist forthwith.

The leaders also renewed their belief in the unity, stability and sustainability of the country.
“We note with significant concern the security situation in the country. Terrorism and violent criminality threaten many areas, adversely affecting the lives and livelihoods of too many innocent and peace-loving Nigerians.
“While mindful of the resource and other constraints facing the nation, we urge the federal government to continue to make the necessary expenditures and allocate sufficient resources to enable the military and security agencies to tackle the difficult security challenges confronting us.

“For Nigeria to overcome these challenges, we must do so with unity of purpose and action. The desire for peace and the chance for a prosperous and just society is universal and transcends all regional, religious or ethnic divisions. Sadly, many public figures have made statements that spark division and undermine the needed unity of purpose,” they added.

They also urged government at all levels, security agencies, and public leaders to do everything possible to prevent tension so that the country would sustain the unity to defeat the challenges to national security.
The South-west APC leaders also called on Nigerians to speak and act in a manner that strengthens the common cause against common threats to the collective peace, justice and development.

“We restate our abhorrence of violence as a means to achieve political or economic power and influence. We strongly condemn violence of any form in any part of the country, regardless of ethnic or regional identity of the perpetrators of the violence or of the victims. Government must do all it can to protect potential victims and to assist those who have previously been victimized by terrorism or widespread banditry,” they stated.

The leaders thanked traditional rulers for their important role in the polity and appealed to them to keep intervening to maintain peace and stability, even as they used “the opportunity of the meeting to urge the federal government to provide, through the CBN, short, medium and long term financing for states and those who may wish to set up ranches as part of the agricultural sustainability policy.”

Besides Akande, Tinubu, Governors Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Gboyega Oyetola of (Osun) and the host, Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), others at the meeting included the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; former Governor of Ogun State, Chief Segun Osoba; the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Niyi Adebayo and former Vice Chairman, APC South-west, Chief Pius Akinyelure and former Chief of Defence Staff, General Alani Akinrinade (rtd).