By John Campbell, Guest Columnist and Blogger
In another sign of elite alarm over the deterioration of security in Nigeria, representatives from fifteen of the seventeen southern states—hailing from the South West, South South, and South East geopolitical zones—met virtually on May 4 and again on May 11 for an in-person meeting in Asaba, Delta State to “harmonise their positions.” (Representatives from Osun and Cross River states were absent from the in-person meeting, though Osun State’s governor was present at the virtual meeting.) Representatives included governors—a large majority—and deputy governors. They met under the auspices of the Southern Nigerian Governors’ Forum (SNGF), which has long been moribund but is now revived.
At the end of the most recent meeting, SNGF chairman Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, the governor of Ondo State, read out a communique issued by the group. The group called on President Muhammadu Buhari to convene a “national dialogue,” insisted on the banning of open grazing in southern Nigeria, and “affirmed that the peoples of Southern Nigeria remain committed to the unity of Nigeria on the basis of justice, fairness, equity and oneness and peaceful co-existence between and among its peoples, with a focus on the attainment of shared goals for economic development and prosperity.” Southern senators threw their weight behind the proposals put forward by the SNGF.
Security issues, incursions by Muslim “Fulani” cattle herders, and frustration with the federal government’s inability to provide security appears to have brought together governors from Yoruba, Igbo, and minority-ethnic group states. Most, but not all, are Christian. It remains to be seen whether the SNGF, after years of irrelevance, becomes an important political entity.
This publication is part of the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Project on the Future of Democracy.
John Campbell is the Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa policy studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC. He was a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria. He writes the blog Africa in Transition. This article first appeared in CFR.
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