Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Ali Ndume, on Wednesday, opposed the Southern Governors Forum’s ban on open grazing in the South-West, South-East and the South-South geopolitical zones of the country.
Ndume, who is the senator representing Borno South Senatorial District, spoke at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday.
The lawmaker insisted open grazing had been causing insecurity only in the North-Central geopolitical zone and some parts of the South- West.
Earlier on Wednesday, Senators from southern Nigeria had backed the decisions of the governors from their various geopolitical zones, who also demanded the restructuring of the country and the immediate ban on open grazing in all Southern states.
On Tuesday, the governors had at the end of their meeting in Asaba, Delta State capital, announced a ban on open grazing in all the 17 Southern states.
The Southern governors also urged the Federal Government to support states willing to develop alternative and modern livestock management systems.
They enjoined President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently address Nigerians on the escalating insecurity across the country and convene a national dialogue.
Commending the decisions and resolutions of the governors, Senators under the banner of the Southern Senators Forum, in a statement on Wednesday, pledged to work with them for actualisation.
They urged the state governors to immediately approach the leadership of the National Assembly for necessary legislative input to give their decisions, the required legal backing.
The statement titled, “Insecurity: Southern senators commend and endorse the resolutions of the southern governors; urging them to work with the National Assembly for optimal results” was jointly signed by the SSF Chairman, Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti); Secretary General,
Mathew Urhoghide (Edo) and Publicity Secretary, Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu).
The lawmakers contended that said the governors’ engagement with the leadership of the National Assembly would enable them to work with both Chambers of the National Assembly to ensure that their well articulated positions on the state of the nation would be articulated through the ongoing review of the 1999 constitution being undertaken by both chambers of the federal parliament.
They also praised the governors for being emphatic on the issues of restructuring, state police and the jettisoning of archaic traditional grazing methods, ‘which fall short of global best practice standard and a potential threat to our national cohesion and peace.”
But Ndume warned the governors to rise to the occasion of protecting their citizens instead of engaging in blame games.
He said, “As far as I am concerned, this blame game will not solve the problem.
“Governors are the Chief security officers of their states, so, why are they talking about the President without talking about themselves?
“The governors are deviating from the matter. The problem is not about open grazing. The problem is security. Most of the insecurity problems confronting Nigeria is not in the bush.
“We have four different types of security challenges. We have the insurgency in the North-East, IPOB through the Eastern Security Network is creating insecurity in the South-East, and there is banditry in the North-West.
“It is only in the North Central that we have issues of farmers-herders clashes. There is less problem in the South-West except for the clashes between the herdsmen and the farmers and the agitators for the Yoruba nation.
“Similarly, in the South-South, they are trying to instigate the avengers but so far the area is peaceful. The issue of insecurity is unique to each zone.
“President Buhari has taken charge of the security personally now. It used to be the Chief of Staff or the Minister of Defence who was having meetings with the service chiefs but today, the President has taken charge of the problem.
“That is a good development and I hope we would start seeing results but the most important thing is for them to be provided with necessary equipment to prosecute the war and their allowances should be paid in time.”
Buhari should spend workers, public officers’ salaries on security
Ndume advocated the suspension of salary payment to workers and other political office holders so that the money could be used to tackle the security challenges in the country.
He said, “The president should make the issue of security, a priority. He should leave every other things and concentrate on security.
“That means even if they will stop paying us and use the money to tackle security. Is it not when you are secured that you talk of other things? It is not only the politicians but everybody.
“If you know that you cannot move out of your house and they say sacrifice your salary, won’t you do it?
“Many people are working from home, yet they are being paid. They should stop paying salaries and address the whole issue of insecurity.
“If you don’t have money, stop paying salaries and allowances and use the money to provide security,.
“If you are borrowing money to provide infrastructure, why can’t we borrow money to protect our people.”
Ndume commended the armed forces operating in Maiduguri for their gallant response to the attack by the Boko Haram on Tuesday evening around 6pm.
He said, “a group of Boko Haram insurgents wanted to infiltrate Maiduguri but the armed forces responded swiftly, neutralised and repelled the insurgents.
“I understand that most of the insurgents were killed. The Army, Airforce, police and the civilian JTF, played a very significant role in repelling the insurgents.
“If such reaction from the armed forces is sustained, the insurgents would be repelled whenever they surface anywhere in the North-East.”
The Senator prayed that the month of Ramadan would bring peace to the country.