A delegation from the Federal Government led by the Minister of Defence, Retired Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi; governors of the five states of the South East and other leaders of political, religious and traditional institutions in the zone rose from a closed-door meeting on the security challenges confronting the region in particular and Nigeria in general, at the Government House, Enugu, reiterating their commitment to peace, unity and stability of the country.
Addressing newsmen after the meeting, the Defence Minister, Magashi, disclosed that the delegation would relay the commitment reached at the parley and other outcomes of the consultation to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Accompanied by his Interior Ministry counterpart and the Service Chiefs, the defence minister explained that they were in Enugu for a consultative meeting with leaders of the South East zone on the issues of instability and criminality, at the instance of President Buhari.
He added that the meeting agreed that there were fundamental issues that need to be addressed in the South East region.
One of such issues, he said, is the farmers/ herders conflict.
Magashi revealed that the second issue they discussed was “the problem of marginalization”, stressing it “is well accepted and further discussion will continue after we have met with Mr. President to see their grievances and after the governors will articulate the grievances so that we can have further discussion on them”.
The minister further disclosed that the delegation endorsed the Community Policing model of the South East governors, adding that it “should be encouraged because we have set precedence in the Amotekun in the Western part of the country.”
In an address at the meeting, the governor of Ebonyi State and chairman of South East Governors Forum, David Umahi, on behalf of the leaders of the zone, restated their commitment to national unity, saying that “this sincere commitment is a new dawn not only to South East but to entire Nigeria.”
Commenting on the ban on open grazing, Umahi said: “We discussed the issue of ban on open grazing and of course this delegation is in support of this ban on open grazing, and we also informed the delegation that each of the South East states has laws in this respect.”
The South East Governors Forum chairman noted that the commitment of the federal government towards addressing all the issues pertaining to herdsmen in the South East is very important.
He stated that the governors have agreed to articulate all the grievances and concerns of the people of the South East “as spelt out by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo.”
Earlier in his opening remark, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State described the Town Hall meeting as timely and apt, expressing optimism that the outcome of the meeting would address the security challenges in the South East zone.
The Enugu State governor thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for sending the federal government delegation to the South East to consult with the leaders of the zone.