Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Afe Babalola

Legal icon and founder Afe Babalola University Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), Aare Afe Babalola, has urged the 17 southern governors to take a step further by setting up an implementation committee for various resolutions reached their last meeting held in Asaba, Delta State capital.

Though Babalola hailed the various brilliant ideas and suggestions offered by the states chief executives at the meeting, he, however, expressed worry that such efforts would come to nothing except concrete efforts were taken to implement them.

The founder, in an open letter, entitled: “Open Letter to Governors of Southern Nigeria: Presidency foreclosed National Conference: “Summit of Hope” a viable option, therefore, charged the governors to walk their talks in order to save the country from needless crisis.

“I am surprised that the respected Governors did not refer in their May 12, 2021 Communique to the May 4, 2021 resolution which was enthusiastically accepted by the Ooni of Ife.

“Furthermore, the decision to hold the “Summit of Hope” was widely published in the media. Moreover, I had briefed the Ekiti State Governor and the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, about the proposed “Summit of Hope” before the May 4, 2021 resolution.”

The legal luminary also commended the governors for rising above party politics to address germaine issues affecting the well-being of the nation.

Babalola said: “It seems to me that the Governors have overlooked the fact that President Buhari has long foreclosed the issue of the convocation of a National Conference/ Dialogue.

“This was confirmed in a statement by Mallam Shehu Garba, the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, at an interactive session with Reporters, organized by the All Progressives Congress (APC) Professional Forum in Abuja, as published in The Guardian on May 14, 2021.

“For ease of reference, I quote verbatim what was reported: “(Garba) Shehu who foreclosed the convocation of a National Conference, called on the agitators to take their grievances to the National Assembly for amicable resolution”.

Offering workable suggestions Babalola urged “The Governors should set up a Committee of Governors to deliberate on how to implement the lofty resolutions in their communique.

“The Governors should hold either a Physical of Virtual meeting to discuss the implementation strategy of their resolutions.

“For instance, the Governors should direct their respective Houses of Assembly to enact laws banning Open Grazing. After all, under the Land Use Decree, the land is vested in the Governors.”

He said: “On the crucially important issue of Dialogue/Conference, which the Presidency had foreclosed, as a viable option, I urge the Governors to support the “Summit of Hope” which was hailed by over 21 Obas and over 500 people present at the Bar Lecture on May 4, 2021.

“The highly respected Ooni of Ife openly accepted the offer and has undertaken to contact past Presidents, past and present Governors on the project. Arrangements are in progress by the Implementation Committee of the “Summit of Hope” to actualize the resolutions which have been commended by well-meaning Nigerians and non-Nigerians from Nigeria and outside Nigeria,” Babalola noted.

“I call on the Governors to support this initiative to which I have committed the sum of N50 million in addition to my provision of Venue, Accommodation and Feeding.

“I congratulate the 17 Governors from different political parties in the Southern part of the country for rising above partisan politics and for the 12-point resolution published after their meeting in Asaba, the Delta State Capital on Tuesday 12th May, 2021.

“If Nigerian politicians have been rising above party politics the way the 17 Governors did, the country would not have been plunged into the problems afflicting the country today.

“If the 12-point resolution are properly managed and executed, the unity of Nigeria as a nation is assured and the drift towards anarchy and another civil war would come to an end.

Briefly, the 12 resolutions contained the Governors’ observations (ii & iii), expression of concerns (ix, x, xii), recommendations (vi, vii & viii), declaration of support and gratitude for host governor (i & xii).

Convocation of a National Dialogue/ Conference:

I observed that the Governors recommended that President Muhammadu Buhari should convene a National Conference/Dialogue as a matter of urgency.

Reinforcing his interest in convoking a summit of Hope , the founder said “In fact, I was aware of the pre-determined position of the Presidency on National Conference/Dialogue.”

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