In pursuant to the state of our Nation, Ibom Patriots – a socio-political organisation of the people of Akwa Ibom State nay Nigeria, wishes to state that representations and resolutions cogently taken by the Forum of Governors of Southern Nigeria on crucial regional and national issues are fundamentally right and applaudable.
In doing so unambiguously, we acknowledge the renaissance in the southern region vis-à-vis the pursuits of shared interests by our Governors and commend them for being brave, responsive and sensitive to the pervading threats of insecurity which are causing trepidations among the various peoples of the region and the nation as a whole.
For purposes of clarity, we further state that the resolutions of the Forum, as highlighted during its respective meetings, particularly that of Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at Asaba, Delta State and Thursday, September 16, 2021 at Enugu State, rightly asserted our feelings and viewpoints, to wit, do enjoy our endorsement accordingly. Some of the resolutions and our candid positions are as listed hereunder:
(a) ANTI – OPEN GRAZING LAWS AND DEVELOPMENT OF ALTERNATIVE MODERN LIVESTOCK MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS.
As obviously widespread, the southern region has experienced incursion of armed herders, criminals and bandits with its severe security challenges such that citizens are not able to live their normal lives nor pursue their various productive activities. Such regular influx has incensed population challenges, thereby putting pressures on available land and causing conflicts between the migrating herders and local inhabitants in the region. Conversely, there are threats to food production and supply, peace and general security. Accordingly, we align with the Anti- open grazing laws being enacted by states in the region and equally back the need for the development of alternative modern livestock management systems by those in the business.
(b) RESTRUCTURING OF THE NIGERIAN FEDERATION
We support the evolution of state police, review of revenue allocation formula in favour of sub-national governments and creation of other institutions which will legitimately advance our commitment to the practice of true federalism.
(c) ENTHRONEMENT OF JUSTICE, FAIRNESS AND EQUITY
We wholly align with the Governors of Southern Nigeria on the need for the enthronement of unity in Nigeria on the basis of justice, fairness and equity as the indispensable elements for genuine peaceful co-existence as a people. We warn that the audacious promotion of dominance on the basis of ethno-religious flavour is antithetical to a virile democracy.
(d) REVIEW OF FEDERAL APPOINTMENTS TO REFLECT FEDERAL CHARACTER
In deference to the sensitivities of our various peoples, we also back the call for urgent review of appointments into Federal Government Agencies, including Security outfits; to reflect federal character in acknowledgement of the fact that the country’s overall population is heterogeneous.
(e) ESTABLISHMENT OF REGIONAL SECURITY OUTFITS
We support the full operationalization of regional security outfits as put forward by the Governors; which would meet, share intelligence and collaborate to ensure the security and safety of the region. Such additional apparati will aid the federal government security architecture effectively.
(f) COLLECTION OF VAT BY STATES
In furtherance to the commitment towards the practice of fiscal federalism; we align totally with the Southern Governors on their position that VAT collection falls within the powers of the States and should be exercised accordingly through appropriate legislations. This development will promote the drive for self-actualization by the states rather than wholly dependent on revenue from the Federation Account.
(g) PETROLEUM INDUSTRY ACT (PIA)
We equally align with the Southern States on the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) in seeking best practices in its management in order to guarantee optimal operations and due benefits to the region.
Ibom Patriots commends Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and States, that have so far implemented the joint decision to outlaw open cattle grazing in their respective states through formal legislation. We see the policy as the right way to go and the right thing to do. It is time we embrace alternative modern livestock management systems in the country. At this age, it is archaic to keep demanding for the opening of grazing routes and movement of cattle on foot, a phenomenon that has created persistent herders and farmers’ conflicts with grave implications for national unity and stability.
Such bold steps by the Governors of Sothern Nigeria on anti- open grazing and the emergent quests for VAT collections by States are good indicators for the gradual enthronement of true federalism. Oppositions to the policies should be ignored. That Nigeria has been operating faulty cattle breading system overtime, cannot be presumed as the best to be practiced forever. Cattle rearers have to discard it and come to terms with modernity. Ibom Patriots therefore urges all states in the Southern Nigeria to make real the Anti-grazing laws by ensuring full implementation and punishment of offenders.
FATALITY OF THE PAST THAT A REPEAT SHOULD BE AVOIDED
As leaders at all levels, we owe ourselves a duty to guide and guard this nation to truly achieve the slogan of “one nation, one people, one destiny’ as often commonly espoused.
We further make bold to say that it is rather sad and reprehensible that since Nigeria’s independence, unsavoury ethno-religious infused lop-sidedness, maladministration, nepotism, insensitivity in the distribution of national amenities and services, abysmal federal character implementation on appointments and positions, et al, have rocked the nation unabatedly.
Despite surviving a monstrous Nigeria/Biafra Civil War – July 6, 1967 –January 15, 1970; the lessons of that terrible era seem not learnt or have been easily forgotten going by the utter duplicitousness in the management of security concerns, socio-economic and political issues within the last six years of the present federal administration.
Today, insecurity has been so foisted on the nation to the extent that the most recurring news across the land are killings, kidnappings, arson and destruction of communities and farmlands as well as forceful occupation of communities by armed invaders under the umbrella of Boko Haram and ISWAP, among others. These invidious activities have to be urgently halted to avoid disastrous consequences in the country.
THE WAY FORWARD
It is good to note that the Armed Forces have of recent intensified several operations against bandits, Boko Haram, ISWAP and other insurgents. Such efforts must be holistic to restore security, peace and stability in all parts of the country. The Federal Government must not relent in equipping the Armed Forces as it should be. We offer our prayers for the members of the Armed Forces for their gallantry in the prosecution of this daunting task.
Our leaders must be truthful in their actions and governance of the country. A society can only make progress if our consciences are right. As posited by Usman Dan Fodiyo (1754-1816), “Conscience is an open wound, only truth can heal it.” Adherence to truth not sentiments, the prevalence of justice, equity and fairness not nepotism, are the incontrovertible ingredients for an ideal society.
For Ibom Patriots:
Obong Bassey Inuaeyen
Rt. Hon. Barr. Usenobong Akpabio
Dr Okon Emah
Uyo Senatorial District Chairman
Arc Okon Obot
Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District Chairman
Sir Adasi Ubulom
Eket Senatorial District Chairman