Akeredolu, Afenifere, others knock presidency over comments on open grazing

The presidency on Tuesday received more knocks from stakeholders and people of Southern Nigeria over its condemnation of the recent ban of open grazing of cattle in southern Nigeria by the Southern Governors’ Forum.

Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, who doubles as chairman of Southern Governors’ Forum, faulted the reaction of senior special assistant, media and publicity to the President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu, on the decision of the Southern Governors’ Forum on open grazing, saying Garba Shehu and the presidency lack the authority to make such a policy statement, having failed to provide solution to farmer-herder crises, bedevilling the nation for years.

The presidency via a statement issued by Shehu had questioned the legality of southern governors to ban the movement of herders in the south, saying it was a show of power and no solution to the herders’ crisis engulfing the country.

But Akeredolu, who spoke through his senior special assistant on special duties, Doyin Odebowale, warned Shehu and his cohorts in the presidency to desist from hurling insults at the elected representatives of the people.

“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.

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“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.”

Also, the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere described the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration as being unorganised following its reaction to the ban on open grazing by southern governors.

Sola Ebiseeni, secretary-general of the group, while reacting on behalf of the group to the presidency’s comments, which trivialised the efforts of the southern governors, said the statement credited to the president’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, showed that the administration is unorganised.

“Having reacted to the statement of the attorney general, I consider it infradignitatem to still countenance Garba Shehu, whose statement, claiming the president’s authority, on the same ban on open grazing, shows how unorganised the Buhari’s government is,” he said.

Also reacting to the president’s media aide statement, Adams Aliu, a Benin-based constitutional lawyer, told Businessday that from the constitutional point of view, the Federal Government distancing itself from the southern governors and their resolve on open grazing was in “bad faith”.