Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has lampooned President Muhammadu Buhari’s senior media assistant, Garba Shehu, over a statement he issued on Monday attacking southern governors for jointly approving the ban on open grazing in the region.
In a caustic statement issued by one of his media aides, Dr Doyin Odebowale, Akeredolu described Shehu as a “pitiable messenger” who lacked proper understanding of his office and responsibilities.
Shehu had rebuked governors of the 17 southern states after they passed the resolution to ban open grazing and movement of cattle by foot in the region
The presidential aide had also accused the governors of attempting to “demonstrate their power” by engaging in “other acts of politicking”.
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But responding, Akeredolu, who is the chairman of the South West Governors’ Forum, said Shehu’s past utterances had already exposed him as someone working “assiduously for extraneous interests whose game plan stands at variance with the expectations of genuine lovers of peaceful coexistence” in the country.
The governor declared that no part of the South West and the entire southern part of the country would be ceded to invaders who he said were masquerading as herdsmen.
Akeredolu also asked Shehu to desist from making policy statements on behalf of the Nigerian Government as he “lacks the authority” to do so.
The statement read, “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”.
“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.
“Mr Shehu and his cohorts should desist from hurling insults at the elected representatives of the people. He acks the authority to make policy statements for the Federal Government, unless directed, expressly. 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.”