From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa

Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State has defended the decision by Southern Governors’ Forum to ban open grazing in their various states.

The governor’s defence of the policy comes on the heels of opposition by Fulani pastoralist advocacy group Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) which has decided to legally challenge the decision of the Forum.

Governor Diri, who had assented to the open grazing law as early as March, defended the policy at the one-day zonal prayer summit organised by the South-South Zone of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) at Saint Patrick Catholic Church, Ovom, Yenagoa on Wednesday.

According to him, herders operating anywhere should not be allowed to use their business to destroy that of the farmers.

The Bayelsa governor also disagreed with those trying to draw an equivalence between Boko Haram terror in the North and militancy in the Niger Delta.

On politics in the South-South, Governor Diri stressed the need for the region to shun violence, adding that politics should be seen as a means to develop people and not to kill or disunite.

According to him, Christians should not avoid politics, citing that Jesus was concerned about the welfare of the people.

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He noted that democracy does not require the use of arms but the building of consensus for development and urged the people of the region to embrace a politics of development.

Governor Diri noted that the South-South is blessed with the potential to be great but that greatness can only be achieved if the people are united.

While commending the South-South CAN for the prayer summit and urging the church not to relent in praying for the region and the country, Governor Diri thanked National President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Bishop Wale Oke, and others for being steadfast in prayers and fasting to ensure that Bayelsa did not go into the wrong hands.

‘Politics is about the welfare of people, which Jesus did. So we should not fight ourselves. There is no difference between the church and government.

‘The South-South is a blessed region. Let us pray that God will give us leaders that will see the potential and develop the region.

‘If we cooperate, it will be difficult for any other region to beat us. It is not all about oil. The South-South is rich in agric and other resources. But we need peace for investors to come in.

‘If we are united as southerners, there are a lot of benefits. Our economy will boom as we have the potential. Ultimate power belongs to the people. Always look for alternative ways to call government to order rather than resort to protest as the first step to resolve issues.’

Bishop Oke in his sermon said the nation was passing through challenges that God alone can solve, stressing that nothing was impossible for God.