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Nigeria: Northern Group Backs Southern Governors on Open Grazing, National Dialogue

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By Iliya Kure

A coalition of groups from northern Nigeria, Northern Youth Leaders Forum (NYLF) has expressed support on position of Southern Governors’ Forum, banning open grazing in the southern region.

“We want to state clearly that open grazing has been the greatest threat to the environment of the Northern region and also a major threat to security of lives and property in the entire country,” said National Chairman of the Forum, Elliot Afiyo, while addressing journalists, shortly after the Forum’s 27th Annual Delegates Conference in Yola, northeast Nigeria.

He also said that having extensively studied the communique issued by the Southern Governors, national dialogue was also a necessity, considering the clamour and demands for restructuring and secessions.

“But we are totally opposed to the use of 2014 Constitutional Conference Report because to us generally in the North, the Report lacks credibility due to the fact that the Delegates especially from the northern part of the country, were hand-picked based on agreements of loyalty.

“To this end, the NYLF during our special delegates conference resolved to totally support the call for national dialogue and ban on open grazing,” Afiyo said.

The group called on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency and national interest consider these calls and act on them.

“In order to enforce completely the ban on open grazing, we call for the establishment of Herder’s Commission or Agency to cater for the needs of the herders through selective programmes so as to effectively Kick-Start the ranching system.

“We also condemn the statement credited to the Attorney General of the Federation on the ban on open grazing and also appeal to the President to caution his Ministers and Aides, who despite being in government for either four to six years, are still having the opposition mentality,” he added.

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Afiyo explained that the conference was expected to announce its Presidential choice for 2023, but has shelved that for a later date, following the tragic plane crash that killed the Chief of Army Staff alongside other top officers on Friday.

“The death of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru who happened to be a brother to our first National Chairman, which also claimed the lives of two of our members, Major Hamza and Major Hayat coupled with the security report at our disposal on the plans by two other presidential hopefuls to cause crisis if peradventure we eventually endorse and announce our own candidate for 2023 presidential elections, we decided for the sake of peace and in honour of our departed elders and colleagues, to shift the endorsement to the 5th of June, 2021, at Abuja,” he said.

On the Ill-fated plane crash, “We received with disbelief and astonishment the news of a plane crash which claimed the lives of officers of the Nigerian Army and Airforce including that of the Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru.

“We sincerely and honestly frowned at the manner and rate of these plane crashes,” the group lamented.

The group called for the immediate composition of an independent investigative panel, to ascertain the remote cause(s) of the plane crash and the Report be made public.

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