Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu has lashed out at the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr Garba Shehu over his recent comments on open grazing.
Akeredolu described Shehu as an ‘agent provocateur’ over his position on the resolutions of the 17 southern governors which banned open grazing after their meeting in Asaba, Delta State.
According to the Governor, Shehu is not speaking for the Presidency or President Buhari over his recent submission which negated the ban on open grazing policy as adopted by the Southern Governors.
It will be recalled that the Southern Governors banned open grazing and called on the President to address Nigerians on the security situation in Nigeria.
However, in a statement on Monday by the Presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu, the Presidency said the plan by the governors to ban open grazing in the Southern part of the country is of “questionable legality”.
According to the presidency, the resolution reached in Asaba, Delta state capital, will not solve the farmer-herder clashes.
Shehu asserted that Buhari had earlier approved the rehabilitation of grazing reserves, adding that the clashes between the farmer and herders will be addressed with the President’s approval.
The Presidential aide said despite the negative effects of COVID-19 on the economy, federal funding for the project, which had been delayed, is now being partly unlocked.
Shehu noted that the governors’ action during the recent meeting in Asaba, Delta state is a violation of the constitutional right of Nigerians to live and do business in any part of the country, irrespective of such citizen’s state of origin.
The full statement in response to Shehu was contained in a statement on Tuesday by Akeredolu’s Senior Special Assistant on Special Duties and Strategy, Dr Doyin Odebowale titled ‘Mr Garba Shehu: On the trail of an agent provocateur’.
It reads: “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.”
The statement warned Shehu “and his cohorts” to desist from hurling insults at the elected representatives of the people, saying he “lacks 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. ”
He also declared that “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.”