By Ayo Kehinde
The pan -Yoruba social and political organisation, Afenifere, has praised the southern governors for their decision to ban open grazing and movement of cattle across the region and the restructuring of the country.
The group the took the stand at a meeting held on Friday at the Ijebu Ode, Ogun State country home of the acting leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo.
According to the National Publicity of the organisation, Comrade Jare Ajayi, the meeting deliberated on matters affecting the Yoruba peoples and the country including the resolutions reached by the Southern Governors Forum at their meeting they held at Asaba, capital of Delta State, ban on open grazing and herdsmen’s attacks restructuring and threats of secession, calls for national dialogue and the plan by the National Assembly to hold public hearings on Constitutional Amendment.
He said that after exhaustive deliberations on these issues, Afenifere resolved to give total support to the decision of governors of the 17 states in Nigeria banning open grazing of livestock in any of the states under their control.
“Afenifere felt that although the declaration by the governors ought to have come long before now, given the atrocities that have arisen from open grazing, it is better late than never. Despite the various steps taken and appeals made by state governments and communities, herders have continued to graze their cattle on farms of our people. When the farmers tried to protest, they (the farmers) are harassed, maimed and sometimes killed. Our female folks are raped. This is a very important reason for the need to completely outlaw open grazing with severe penalties for any violator.
“Afenifere is delighted to note that restructuring as a workable recipe for stopping Nigeria from falling apart, is becoming more popular and winning converts on a daily basis. We are delighted because Restructuring is something we have been advocating for a long time. From around 1953, Afenifere had been advocating for Federal System of Government for Nigeria.
“A Constitution based on Federalism was operating in the country until 1966 when the military consigned the Constitution into the dust bin. Since then, Nigeria has not been enjoying true federalism.
“We in Afenifere believe very strongly that failure to practise federalism and increasing Unitarisation of the country were largely responsible for the travails Nigeria is suffering today – and will continue to suffer – unless Nigeria is restructured! We have no doubt about this at all. We are happy to note that some who were either opposed to Restructuring or hesitant of it are now embracing it. We therefore demand that Restructuring should be effected NOW!
“When the 8th National Assembly called for Memoranda on Constitutional Review, we submitted a Memorandum. Of course, the 1999 Constitution meant to be reviewed and which we are insisting should be jettisoned. But since we don’t have any other document other than this 1999 Constitution with which the affairs of the country is being run, we feel that it is sensible to submit a Memorandum that clearly states our own position.
He expressed the hope is that the National Assembly “will be sincere in its effort at reviewing the Constitution.”