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The Chairperson of the Southern Governors Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu has slammed the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu over a Monday statement challenging the legality of the open grazing ban by the southern governors.
Mr Akeredolu who is the Ondo State governor also accused Shehu of working for “extraneous interests.”
The disagreement is over the resolution of the southern regions to ban open grazing in their states as a means to end herders-farmers clashes and the presidency’s opposing statements to the ban.
In a statement on Monday, Garba Shehu accused the southern leaders of politicking with the ban on open grazing and claimed the resolution did not proffer practicable solution to the herders-farmers conflict that has caused deaths and wrecked properties.
Shehu further claimed that the President had earlier approved measures to bring an end to the insurgency as advised by Sabo Nanono, the Minister of Agriculture in April.
“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,” Shehu had said in the statement.
“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.”
Reacting to the presidency’s statement on Tuesday, Akeredolu accused Garba Shehu of creating confusion in the polity by his utterances.
The statement titled “Mr Garba Shehu; On the Trail of An Agent Provocateur” was issued by his Senior Special Adviser on Special Duties and Strategy, Dr Doyin Odebowale in Akure, Ondo State.
The statement partly read, “Anyone who has been following the utterances of this man, as well as his fellow travelers 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 statement further lambasted the reference to Nanono’s recommendation and the Minister Nanono like Shehu is a political appointee and he doesn’t have the weight of elected governors.
Akeredolu said, “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.” The statement read.