Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has lashed out against Presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, over his scathing qcriticism of the recent announcement by southern states members of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) banning open grazing in their domains.
On May 11, the governors of 17 states in the southern part of the country resolved during a meeting in Asaba, Delta state to ban open grazing of cattle in their states.
The decision was part of the 12-point resolutions reached by the governors during the meeting.
Open grazing of cattle has been a sore point among Nigerians most of see it as the caused od the incessant conflicts and killkngs and communal crisis between communities and migrant herders.
Some of the herders have also been accused of committing other crimes, like armed robbery, kidnappings, and murder.
In the communique read by its Chairman, Akeredolu, the meeting agreed to ban open grazing in their States.
The governors however “affirmed that the people 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.”
The governors said the incursion of armed herders, criminals, and bandits into the Southern part of the country has presented a severe security challenge, such that citizens are not able to live their normal lives.
Also, the governors said development and population growth
have put enormous pressure on available land, such that allowing open grazing is likely to increase the prospects of conflict between migrating herders and local populations in the South.
Given the above situation, Akeredolu said it became imperative for the 17 southern states to enforce the ban on open grazing in the region announced since February this year, including cattle movement to the South by foot.”
In his reaction to the decision by the governors, President Muhammadu Buhari, through his spokesperson, Garba Shehu, expressed strong opposition to the ban.
He described the Southern Governors action as “an attempt and other acts of politicking intended to demonstrate their power.”
The presidential aide said the president is determined to address the conflicts of herders and farmers in a sustained and lasting manner. This, he said, should lead to the emergence of a permanent solution to the frequent clashes between the states and associated problem of the gun-wielding “killer herdsmen.”
The President criticized the governors for issuing the ban, saying as elected leaders and representatives of the people, they are expected to find answers to challenges of governance and rights of citizens citizens and not wash their hands off hard choices by, instead, issuing bans that say: “not in my state.”
Buhaei described the ban order by the governors as “of questionable legality, given the Constitutional right of all Nigerians to enjoy the same rights and freedoms within every one of our 36 states (and FCT) -regardless of the state of their birth or residence.”
Reacting to the Shehu’s statement, Akeredolu said the unilateral decisions attributed to the President as permanent solution to the frequent clashes and herdsmen attacks” only “clears the way for ranching and revival of forest reserves.”
“Anyone who has been following the utterances of this man (Shehu), as well as his fellow travelers on the self-deluding, mendacious, but potentially dangerous itinerary to anarchy, cannot but conclude that he works, assiduously, for extraneous interests whose game plan stands at variance with the expectations of genuine lovers of peaceful coexistence among all the peoples whose ethnic extractions are indigenous to Nigeria,” Akeredolu said through his spokesperson, Doyin Odebowale.
“Garba must disclose, this day, the real motive(s) of those he serves, definitely not the President. He cannot continue to hide under some opaque, omnibus and dubious directives to create confusion in the polity.
“The easy recourse to mendacious uppity in pushing a barely disguised pernicious agendum is well understood.
“The declaration that the recommendations of the Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, a mere political appointee like Garba Shehu, are now the “lasting solutions” which eluded all the elected representatives of the people of the Southern part of the country, exposes this man as a pitiable messenger who does not seem to understand the limits of his relevance and charge.”
On the issue of the governors* announcement being “of questionable legality”, Akeredolu questioned the legality of the unilateral decision of the president proposed as a solution ro the problem without involvement of tge people or their representatives.
The president proposed rehabilitation od the country’s dorest reserves for herdsmen, including the provision of “veterinary clinics, water points for animals, and facilities for herders and their families, including schooling through these rehabilitated reserves.”
“No inch of the space delineated and known, currently, as South West, and indeed the whole South, will be ceded to a band of invaders masquerading as herdsmen under any guise,” the governor insisted.