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By Dan Ibezim
The Southern Governor’s Forum was on Friday urged to tread with caution and guard their utterances in the interest of the unity of Nigeria.
This advice was given by a coalition under the aegis of Yoruba Appraisal Forum (YAF) while addressing the press in Lagos.
The group said that the tension generated by the forum’s resolutions had become a cause for concern amongst all Nigerians.
The 17 Southern Governors, it will be recalled, rose from their meeting on Monday in Lagos and resolved, among other things, that the next president of the country should come from the south.
The Southern Governors also resolved to outrightly ban open grazing in their states and rejected the three per cent equity share allocated to oil bearing host communities, as well as the 30 per cent set aside for frontier states in the Petroleum Industry Bill recently passed by the Senate.
However, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and a former governor of Zamfara, Alhaji Ahmed Sani Yerima, had faulted the position of the Southern Governors, arguing that the presidency remained a democratic office and not a rotatory position.
The former Secretary General of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Elder Anthony Sani, also said that outright ban on open grazing without provision of alternative measures for herders would spell doom for the country.
But, Chief Adesina Animashaun, National Coordinator of YAF, who addressed the media on behalf of the group, said that rather than create tension ahead of 2023, the southern politicians should follow due process in their demands.
Said he: “We have observed a flurry of activities and desperate attempts by some powerful politicians and individuals to further aggravate the ongoing debate and eventually create tension in the polity ahead of the 2023 general elections.
“There are processes leading up to general elections from party congresses to conventions and the election itself. The southern governors should put their house in order and find ways to market their candidacy to their parties and other parts of the country for acceptance.
“Diplomacy is the watchword in democratic settings. There is no constitutional backing for rotatory presidency in Nigeria. Therefore in taking such stand, there is need for diplomacy so as not to be seen as declaration of force”.
Animashaun said the most important thing in Nigeria now as a nation, remained its peace and unity which must be upheld by all leaders irrespective of their interests and personal desires.
Noted Animashaun: “Already, Northern governors and elders, youths as well as various groups have rejected the position of the Southern governors, particularly on power shift and other demands made by them”.
He further noted that certain actions by some powerful politicians and individuals in the various Southern states since the Lagos meeting could spark off “serious tension” amongst the different ethnic groups in Nigeria.
He opined that the utterances of some civil society groups already recruited by these powerful politicians left much to be desired.
Added he: ” We wish to state that the existing peaceful atmosphere prevailing in the country in recent past should not be disturbed or threatened by issues that can be amicably resolved.
“We appeal to Nigerians from all sections of the country to be calm and allow peace to continue to reign even in the face of the various vexing national issues some individuals and groups have been exploring to further their own selfish interests”.