By KODILINYE Obiagwu
THE governors of the South East states have dismissed speculations that parts of the zone have been mapped out for and donated ranchers.
At the end of a meeting by the South East Governors Forum, SEGF, Sunday, in the Enugu Government House, the governors also called for an emergency security meeting in the zone with federal security agencies to halt the movement of herdsmen and prevent the clashes with farmers.
While noting that the zone does not have sufficient land for ranching business, the governors bemoaned the massive destruction of farmlands and clashes with farmers arising from the increased movement of herdsmen.
He admitted that the development was raising challenges as governors “have been spending huge funds to settle the farmers.”
In the nine point communiqué read by the chairman of the SEGF and Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, at the enlarged meeting, attended by the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, traditional rulers from the zone, major stakeholders in the business sector, the governors condemned the recent killings in Plateau State and condoled with the people and government of Plateau.
According to Umahi: “We wish to let our detractors and mischief makers to know that no land in the South East has been donated for ranching as we don’t have land for ranching.
“The Federal Government has never requested because the Federal Government is aware that South East land mass is not big enough for ranching. So we have not donated, we have not been asked to donate and we have no intention to donate. So ranching is not approved by the governors of the South East.”
The governors showed support for and admitted for further examination a template Ohanaeze Ndigbo proposed for restructuring of the country. While promising to make their stand known on the template at their next meeting, the governors encouraged the apex socio cultural association of Ndigbo to sell its template on restructuring to other zones in the country.
Meanwhile, Umahi, announced that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) depot in Emene, Enugu, which had been abandoned for over 20 years would soon resume operations.
The assurance followed briefings by the NNPC Manager on Security, Sam Otobeze on the repair of the vandalized pipelines. The governors assumed the responsibility for safeguarding the pipelines.
The meeting approved the setting up of an Industrial and Infrastructural Development Bank to fast track capital flow for rapid development of the region, as a private initiative. It also announced a partnership with e-Health Africa for health interventions and establishment of world class health facilities in the zone.
In attendance at the meeting were Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, the deputy governors of Abia, Ude Okochukwu and Nkem Okeke (Anambra), the President General of Ohanaeze, Nnia Nwodo, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, Prof Barth Nnaji among several others.