For the second time in 24 hours, Ondo State governor, Arakunrin Olurotimi Akeredolu has reiterated the stand of the governors of the Southern States governors in the Nigerian federation on the ban on open cattle grazing in Southern Nigeria.
Governor Akeredolu who is the Chairman of the Southern States governors forum first spoke in Ibadan Oyo State on Monday at the ongoing Nigerian Bar Association’s Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL).
The governor, a lawyer, former President of the NBA, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) maintained that the ban on open cattle grazing across the South has come to stay. “We are elected for the security of our people. The security of my house is in my hands. The security of our village is in our hands”, he said.
On the same day however, a statement signed by Garba Shehu, a media aide to President Muhammadu Buhari had condemned the stand of the governors, claiming their position impugn on the rights of the violent Fulani herdsmen freedom of movement.
He said: “President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed a strong resolve to address the conflicts of herders and farmers in a sustained and lasting manner that should lead to the emergence of a permanent solution to the frequent clashes between them, as well as the associated problem of the gun-wielding “killer herdsmen.”
The President had approved a number of specific measures to bring a permanent end to the frequent skirmishes as recommended by Alhaji Sabo Nanono, the Minister of Agriculture in a report he submitted and the President signed off on it back in April, well before the actions of the Southern Governors Forum which attempts to place a ban on open grazing and other acts of politicking intended by its signatories to demonstrate their power.
It is very clear that there was no solution offered from their resolutions to the herder-farmer clashes that have been continuing in our country for generations.
But the citizens of the southern states – indeed citizens of all states of Nigeria – have a right to expect their elected leaders and representatives to find answers to challenges of governance and rights, and not to wash their hands off hard choices by, instead, issuing bans that say: “not in my state.”
It is equally true that their announcement is 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.
Fortunately, this declaration has been preempted, for whatever it is intended to achieve and Mr. President, who has rightly been worried about these problems more than any other citizen in consultation with farmers and herders alike, commissioned and approved an actionable plan of rehabilitating grazing reserves in the states, starting with those that are truly committed to the solution and compliant with stated requirements”.
However in a reply to Garba Shehu’s statement, Gov Akeredolu demanded that he should declare the motive of his masters, as it is clear that his statement does not represent President Buhari.
“Mr Garba Shehu just released a press statement purporting to represent the position of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, on the farmer-herder ‘clashes’ and what he termed as ‘Deep Rooted Solutions’ to the herdsmen attacks.
He also attributed a unilateral decision to the President who clears the way for ranching and revival of forest reserves as part of the permanent solution to the frequent clashes between them, as well as the associated problem of the gun-wielding killer-herdsmen.
Anyone who has been following the utterances of this man, as well as his fellow travellers 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.
Mr 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.
Mr Garba contends that ‘their announcement is of questionable legality,’ referring to the 17 Governors of the Southern States, but the decision of certain elements to take the ancestral lands of other people to settle their kinsmen, including the ‘gun-wielding’ ‘killer herdsmen’ and their families, and provide ‘veterinary clinics, water points for animals, and facilities for herders and their families including schooling through these rehabilitated reserves’ for which ‘the Federal Government is making far-reaching and practical changes allowing for different communities to co-exist side-by-side,’ does not appear to him as a comprehensive plan for land grabbing, a precursor to internal colonialism.
He wants to ‘revive forest reserves but seems particularly uninterested in the current position of the same law, that he and his cohorts often misinterpret to serve parochialism and greed. Governors no longer have powers over the lands in their territories. They must take instructions from appointees of the Federal Government on such matters.
It is superfluous, and that is being charitable, for anyone to remind us of the constitutional right of bona fide citizens ‘to enjoy rights and freedoms within every one of our 36 states (and FCT)-regardless of their state of birth and residence.’
He said further that there has never been any contention on this provision. It is clear that Mr Garba seems to have issues understanding the difference between licentious criminality and qualified rights under our law. It is our duty to continually nudge him off his current state of cognitive dissonance. His pronouncement betrays dubiety and mischief.
Most traditional families in Nigeria have occupations. Pastoralism is not an exception. Any ethnic group still trapped in anachronism may be assisted to embrace modernity. Dispossessing communities of their ancestral lands, encouraging denizens of the forests to overrun lands belonging to other people and forcing alien bands of migrants on the local populace to live ‘side-by-side’ with other communities cannot be for the purpose of animal husbandry. It raises suspicion on a grand, deliberate, persistent and insidious design to use naked force to subjugate the real owners of the land. Mr Garba Shehu is a major supporter of the current pervasive anarchy in the land.
His acts are clearly those of an agent provocateur. Other closet dreamers, aspirers to colonial fantasies, must be weaned off their delusion. 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.”