From Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has declared that the intention of Ondo Governor Rotimi Akeredolu regarding the quit order given to unregistered Fulani herdsmen in the state is not to cause ethnic crisis but to prevent crime.
Rising from a meeting held with the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in Akure, the Ondo State capital, the NGF said Governor Akeredolu did not send Fulani herdsmen away from the state but only asked them to leave government farm settlements and also register for proper recognition.
The Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, in his remarks at the meeting, said Governor Akeredolu did not order Fulanis or cattle herdsmen living in the state to vacate but to register for proper government recognition.
He said the intention of the governor was to have all herdsmen in the state properly registered with the state government, adding that the governor was misconstrued in the media.
Governor Fayemi said the NGF meeting was called to resolve the issue of insecurity in the South-West and to ensure peaceful coexistence among the people of the region and those from other tribes living there.
He noted that Governor Akeredolu had not ordered the Fulani to leave Ondo, saying that the governor has nothing against Fulani herdsmen who abide by the laws of the state.
‘Many members of MACBAN were born in the South-West. So, Akeredolu cannot ask Fulani to vacate Ondo State. The area concerned is the forest reserves and it is about registration and also to work in line with the law,’ Governor Fayemi said.
‘What we are after is the criminals, not Fulani herdsmen, criminals are criminals irrespective of their ethnic group,’ he added.
Governor Fayemi noted that the statement generated controversy which eventually led to what he described as unfortunate development in Oyo State.
He said Governor Akeredolu didn’t talk about herdsmen vacating the state but about registration of herdsmen who want to operate within the reserves.
‘The security and welfare of the people of Nigeria are the primary purposes of government as enshrined in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended),’ he said.
‘Insecurity is a national challenge and not peculiar to any tribe or region but must be addressed by the cooperation of all. The order of the Ondo State Governor was misconstrued and misrepresented by a section of the media. He only ordered those occupying the Forest Reserves in Ondo State illegally to quit.
‘Criminals should be apprehended and punished, no matter their origin, class or status. Security agencies have been trying to stem the tide of criminality in the country but must step up their efforts in the fight.
‘There is the need to build a partnership for peace and security with MACBAN and jointly wage war against criminality. No one had sent anyone away from any state or region but all hands must be on deck to fight crime.
‘MACBAN is a peace loving, law abiding organization which does not habour or condone criminals and members of the association have all agreed that night grazing should be banned henceforth. Underage herding is inimical to security and hence be banned as well.
‘We have also collectively condemned the occupation of State Forest Reserves illegally. MACBAN also suffers insecurity and kidnapping and thus desire peaceful coexistence. MACBAN is ready for any peaceful move by the states to engender security.
‘Fake news is another issue that makes our security worse than solving it. There must be an enduring framework with MACBAN in a way that will help address security issues.
‘Standing Committee comprising of farmers, MACBAN and the government should be set up in each state (where they don’t exist) to ensure synergy and result. We must create economic opportunities for our people and reduce opportunities for criminalities in our country,’ he added.
In his remarks, the National President of MACBAN, Muhammadu Kirowa, said his members are peaceful and democratic.
Represented by the National Secretary of the association, Baba Uthman Ngelzama, the Miyetti Allah leader sued for peace and stressed that dialogue is key to ensuring peaceful coexistence.
He noted that poor management of the relationship between herders and farmers led to clashes recently recorded in some parts of the country.