Editorial: On The Akeredolu Quit Notice To Herders

Editorial: On The Akeredolu Quit Notice To Herders

The presidency and the Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, are locked in a fierce disagreement over his ordering all herders to vacate forest reserves in the state within seven days.

Garba Shehu, the senior special assistant to the President Muhammadu Buhari on media and publicity in a statement he signed recently encouraged the state government to tackle all forms of criminality but not breach the rights of herders in the state.

 Mr Akeredolu had given an ultimatum to herders to vacate all forests while meeting with leaders of Hausa/Fulani and Ebira communities at his office in Alagabaka, Akure; the state capital.

He cited how the activities of the herders have long been threatening the security of the state.

The state then mandated those who wish to carry on with their cattle-rearing business to register with appropriate authorities within the next seven days or risk evacuation from the state.

In reaction to this, Mr Shehu said; “Rather the ultimatum and contradiction that may follow the order, the state governmentand the leadership of the Fulani communities in Ondo state should dialogue for a good understanding that will bring to an urgent end, the nightmarish security challenges facing the state”.

He said, Gov Akeredolu will be the least expected to unilaterally oust thousands of herders who have lived all their lives in the state on account of the infiltration of the forests by criminals.

The presidency argued that; “Insecurity is not alien to any group, the language they speak, their geographical location or their faith”.

“The Fulani community in Ondo State should stay put where they are and continue to be law-abiding. We call on Governor Akeredolu to rescind his order on the Fulani, or clarify his position in the event that he is misunderstood. For the avoidance of doubt, no Fulani anywhere in Nigeria will accept unfair and illegal treatment just for being Fulani”, the statement read.

While the position of the Arewa Elders Forum, AEF, on the raging controversy does not differ from that of the Presidency, it took its own a step further by urging the herders to remain obstinate against Governor Akeredolu’s orders.

However, the Ondo State Government has made certain clarifications on its purported quit notice to the herders. One of the governor’s aides on national television had blamed the failure of the herders to heed to a registration process that would involve all bonafide businessmen resident in the state had been rebuffed by them, prompting the essence for the quit order by the governor.

Since the quit order saga began, there have been a plethora of reactions on both sides of the divide, sparking very dangerous and tendentious reactions. Some of these, smacking of tantrums, bear ominous consequences and could throw up unpleasant backlashes. A few have assumed religious and ethnic colourations, thus negating the spirit of the nation’s constitution which spells out how the basic rights of individuals in our heterogeneous settings where a mix of ethnicity and religion are of high stakes.

AljazirahNigeria, however, would not get involved in the fray to but there are salient deductions from the imbroglio that need to be revisited.

We align our thoughts with the position that the Federal Government was too reactionary and hasty in castigating Governor Akeredolu without first addressing the concerns raised by him, which spurred his order in the first place.     

As the Chief Security Officer of the state, the FG ought to have consulted with him to seek a better option to his order or otherwise, rather than engage in an undue diatribe that could escalate and further heat the polity.

While we acquiesce to the constitutionally guaranteed rights for Nigerians of all hues and ethnic background to live and engage in profitable ventures in any part of the country, this does not sweep away the caveat that this must be done within the confines of extant laws governing the respective states and those of the nation at large.

We counsel all states to take a cue from the Bayelsa State experience where a ranch has been established for all herders who are no longer itinerant. Such a project would also earn revenue for the states as proper taxes would be judiciously collected; destruction of live and property as a result of herders trespassing on farms has been averted. We advise the Federal Government to advocate for modern cattle rearing for robust economic gains instead of encouraging the herders not to be law abiding and the governor should reconsider some of his stance but carry out his constitutional duties as the chief security officer of the state.

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