Elders in the South West under the aegis of Coalition of Oduduwa Elders have thrown their weight behind the governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu’s quit notice order to herders in the state.
The elders, who also took swipe at the Presidency over the latter’s statement cautioning the governor against his directive, accused the Presidency of undue meddlesomeness in issues within the purview of the state.
“We strongly believe that as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, the governor knows the position of law regarding the action he has taken to protect the Ondo people,” the coalition side.
Akeredolu had given herdsmen a seven-day ultimatum to vacate the forest reserve areas to curb kidnappings in Ondo State, allegedly committed by criminals hiding in forests.
After the Fulani leadership under the aegis of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) cried out over the governor’s action, the Presidency in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, cautioned the governor against his action, saying the herders cannot leave the forests for any reason.
The development has drawn the attention of some Yoruba elders who accused the federal government of abandoning its core responsibilities to meddle in issues within the purview of state governors.
The Yoruba elders, however, warned the Presidency to steer clear of governance issues in Ondo or any other state in the country, saying the governor’s action was the best in protecting the lives of Ondo citizens.
According to them, the federal government which has exclusive control of conventional security architecture in the country has failed to protect the people.
The group, in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Dr Tunde Aremu and National Secretary, Folake Ajasin, respectively, asked the governor not to be distracted by actions of those it noted “have failed to safeguard the lives of Nigerians” but be firm and decisive in his actions aimed at giving Ondo people safety.
Regretting that Ondo forests have become launching pads for herdsmen, the elders noted that the “herdsmen coming into the state are doing so not for the purpose of grazing, but killing and destroying property.
“The marauders, who usually come without cattle, engage in kidnappings, attacking communities in guerrilla style of warfare, killings, burn houses and destroying other property! Should the governor fold his hands and look the other way while his people are being massively kidnapped, killed and their property destroyed? No, these have to stop now. And the only way to stop it is what Chief Akeredolu has done.”
While commending Akeredolu for what it described as his “bold steps” in safeguarding the lives and property of citizens, the group wondered why the Presidency had only stepped in at a time the governor asked alleged
“perpetrators” to quit the places of their nefarious activities.
“The quit notice to herders to leave Ondo forests is one of those steps he has taken to protect the citizenry. So, we ask the Presidency to leave him alone.
“We are surprised that the Presidency which has not reacted to the cries of the people of Ondo or South West, leaving the region to form Ametokun security outfit to protect its people, would be so concerned to issue a rushed statement over the governor’s action!”
The group reminded the Presidency that “Akeredolu is a governor of a state and one of his major responsibilities is the protection of lives and property besides the welfare of his people.”