Governors of South-West states and traditional rulers in the region have agreed to adopt the National Economic Council (NEC) resolution on forest management, which will put the governors in the position to manage forest reserves in their respective states.
The decision was taken during the over three-hour closed-door meeting held in Ibadan yesterday.
In attendance at the meeting were Governor Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo) and Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti).
On the traditional rulers’ side were the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi; Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi; Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji; Akarigbo of Remo, Oba Babatunde Ajayi and Olugbo of Ugbo Kingdom, Oba Fredrick Obateru Akinruntan.
The Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, who had convened the meeting, was absent.
Also billed to attend the parley but absent were the Inspector General of Police and the Director General of the Department of State Service and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State.
Gambari, IGP, DSS DG and Sanwo-Olu’s absence was blamed on bad weather which affected their flights.
According to a communique, the meeting supported the NEC decision on forest management, that the nation’s borders need to be fully secured and protected, open grazing must be checked and that the media must assist to end fake news.
Miffed by the menace of open grazing of cattle which was recognised as one of the flashpoints for insecurity in Nigeria over the past few years, the Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ondo State, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, who read the communiqué, noted that the adoption of the NEC resolution became imperative owing to conflicts between herders and farmers caused by open grazing.
The NEC had, during its meeting, last Thursday, resolved that federal and state governments should recommit to “the protection of all residents of all states including non-indigenous communities and religious and ethnic minorities within state jurisdictions”.
It also recommitted to the arrest and prosecution of all perpetrators of crime.
Similarly, it was resolved that in collaboration with federal authorities, there should be the commencement of “the reconstruction of destroyed homes and payment of compensation where appropriate by State authorities for damage to property and livelihoods sustained during targeted attacks on communities within their jurisdictions.”
Akeredolu said: “This meeting was called by the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, but, unfortunately, the Chief of Staff and the security heads could not make it here due to bad weather in Abuja. They had to cancel their flights. They called in to tender their apologies.
“From the discussion, we had with our Obas here and the security teams are that are present, we agreed that the time is now to support the descision of NEC, that is National Economic Council about forest management. And that we believe that all the states should be in position to manage their forests.
“By that, it will give enough room for you to determine who and who are there, what purpose have they signed, and where we have people who are there illegally, the state will have to take some steps so that we can preserve our forests. All of us believe that we support that decision of NEC. So all of us here are in support of NEC decision in forest management.
“We also debated on a few other things. Our borders have become too porous and that we need to do something urgently to prevent foreigners or foreign herdsmen from coming into this country without any form of caution, because a number of them are coming with their herds or cows and what they do is something of concern to all of us and we belive that our borders need to be checked and that we need to tighten our borders so that all these foreigners won’t come with there herds here and destroy our farms.
“We also discussed the fact that the time is now for us to support cattle breeding. There is need for government to support cattle breeding as we are supporting other areas of farming.
“We also zeroed in on fake news. You journalists need to assist the country that fake news is played down. You have the duty on responsible journalism. You know what fake news did for us during EndSars. We must work at it. We must not allow fake news.”