May 26, 2021

Open grazing ban: Southern govs, Ortom, MBF, Clark blast Garba Shehu


Garba Shehu

Garba Shehu

…He lacks authority to make policy statements for Presidency

…His pronouncement betrays dubiety, mischief

…No inch of southern space will be ceded to invaders masquerading as herdsmen

…Presidency’s insistence on grazing reserves/cattle routes smacks of hidden agenda — Ortom

…Don’t impose Fulani from across Africa on Nigeria, MBF cautions Presidency

…We’re not against open grazing ban —Miyetti Allah

…Presidency’s position uncharitable, asking for chaos —E.K. Clark

By Dayo Johnson, Dapo Akinrefon, Henry Umoru &  Peter Duru

THE 17 Southern Governors  have lambasted Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, for saying that their ban on pen grazing in the region ”is of questionable legality.”

Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Chairman of the Southern Governors Forum, and South-West Governors Forum, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State accused Garba Shehu of creating confusion in the polity by his utterances and working “assiduously, for extraneous interests whose game plan stands at variance with the expectations of genuine lovers of peaceful coexistence among all the people whose ethnic extractions are indigenous to Nigeria.

Shehu’s beration came as Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State and the Middle-Belt Forum, MBF, picked holes in the Presidency’s attack on southern governors and insistence on funding grazing reserves and cattle routes across the country.

While Ortom said Benue State would not be part of the cattle reserves/routes because the presidency’s insistence on it smacks of hidden agenda, the MBF cautioned the presidency against imposing foreign Fulani on Nigeria because Nigeria is not a Fulani colony.

Also, the Afenifere Renewal Group, ARG, disagreed with funding of cattle routes saying that the country is not for President Muhammadu Buhari to do as he wished.

Shehu is not serving President Buhari’s interest

Akeredolu in the statement by his Senior Special Adviser on Special Duties and Strategy, Dr Doyin Odebowale, entitled: “Mr Garba Shehu; On the Trail of An Agent Provocateur,” said: ”Garba Shehu 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, 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.”

The statement continued: “Mr Garba Shehu just released a press statement purporting to represent the position of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, on the farmer-herder ‘clashes’ and what he termed as ‘Deep Rooted Solutions to the herdsmen attacks.’

“He also attributed a unilateral decision to the President who ‘clears way for ranching and revival of forest reserves ‘as part of the ‘permanent solution’ to the frequent clashes between them, as well as the associated problem of the gun-wielding ‘killer-herdsmen.’

“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 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.

“lt 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.

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“It is our duty to continually nudge him off his current state of cognitive dissonance. His pronouncement betrays dubiety and mischief.

“May we warn Mr Garba Shehu and his cohorts to desist from hurling insults at the elected representatives of the people.

“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.”

Akeredolu therefore 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.”

Presidency’s insistence on grazing reserves smacks of hidden agenda —Ortom

Also, Governor Ortom said the Federal Government’s insistence on re-introducing grazing reserves and cattle routes in the country is indicative of a hidden agenda.

Ortom insisted that Benue State would not be part of any policy that is short of the resort to ranching, which he said remains best global practice in animal husbandry, to check the killings of farmers by armed Fulani terrorists invading communities across the country.

The governor in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase,  was reacting to a statement by Mallam Garba Shehu in which he flayed the decision of Southern Governors to ban open grazing adding that the Federal Government would commence rehabilitation work on grazing reserves in the country, next month.

Taking a swipe at the position of the presidency, Governor Ortom said:  “We find the move not only shocking and curious but also as a misplaced priority. At a time the country is worried about the worsening security situation and many Nigerians are calling for national dialogue to address the fundamental issues that have led to the present state of affairs, the Federal Government considers the reopening of cattle grazing routes as the only solution available to it.

“It is now clear that there is a hidden agenda which only the Presidency knows. Otherwise, all the regions of the country have accepted the fact that open grazing of animals is no longer fashionable and should be banned to pave way for ranching, yet, the government at the centre is insistent that grazing reserves/cattle routes must be created across the country.

“On February 9, this year, the Northern States Governors’ Forum, NSGF, met and agreed that the current system of herding mainly by open grazing is no longer sustainable, in view of growing urbanisation and population of the country. The Forum consequently resolved to sensitize herders on the need to adopt ranching as the new method of animal husbandry.

“The 17 Governors of Southern Nigeria rose from their meeting in Asaba on May 11 also this year, with a ban on open grazing in the entire region. The Southern Governors equally adopted ranching as the alternative method of rearing animals.

“As it stands, the Presidency is the lone hand pushing for the continuation of open grazing and the return of cattle routes of 1950s and 60s. The Presidency has, by its endorsement of open grazing, emboldened armed herders who lay claim to all lands in Nigeria as belonging to Fulani, hence their invasion of farming communities and killing of original owners of such lands.

“While we may not stop the Federal Government’s plan to rehabilitate grazing reserves or create cattle routes in other states, we wish to make it clear that no land in Benue State has been gazetted for grazing routes, grazing reserves, cattle colonies and Ruga settlements. Benue is therefore not part of the grazing reserves rehabilitation programme of the Federal Government.”

Don’t impose Fulani from across Africa on Nigeria, MBF cautions Presidency

Reacting to presidency’s position, the MBF has cautioned the President Buhari-led Administration to desist from imposing Fulani from all parts of Africa on Nigeria because Nigeria is not a Fulani colony.

“National President of MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, who sounded the warning yesterday in Makurdi urged all Nigerians to join forces with southern governors to resist and stop the evil plot.“He said:  “We have a government that is so distant from reality. We have never had this kind of government. A government that is living in the 50s while we are now in the 21st century. It is just unfortunate.“

We’re not against ban on open grazing, says S-East Miyetti Allah leader

Meantime, the South-East chapter of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, has said it is not against the ban on open grazing of cattle in the southern part of the country.

In a statement, South-East Zonal Chairman of MACBAN, Gidado Siddiki,, said the southern governors may have taken the decision due to the exigencies of the time, adding that no one should vilify them.

Siddiki, however, requested that a middle course be negotiated to avoid the abrupt stoppage of open grazing, preparatory to the commencement of better and modern methods of cattle rearing.

The MACBAN chairman said such a move would douse the tension that has been generated by the decision across the country.

Presidency’s position uncharitable, asking for chaos —EK Clark

Former Federal Commissioner for Information and South-South Leader,  Chief Edwin Clark who turned 94 years, yesterday, also lampooned the presidency over its stance on banning of open grazing by southern governors.

He described the statement as bad, uncharitable, unfortunate, uncalled for and capable of causing chaos, even as he said that he was totally against secession or break-up of the country.

Speaking at his Asokoro residence, Abuja where he marked his 94th birthday with family members, friends and associates with a Communion mass conducted by the Vicar of St. James’ Anglican, Asokoro, Abuja, Venerable Festus Nwafili, the elder statesman noted that he has no regrets as he clocked 94, said that if there was anything he should regret about is the failure on the part of Nigeria as a country to progress from this present position.

Clark said: ”You asked me whether I support secession, break up of Nigeria. I said if I’m to secede where do I go to? We own this country more than myself? We either succeed or fail together. Nigeria will remain one country. My only regret is the number of killings that is happening in Nigeria every day.“Taking a swipe at Buhari on the position against the collective decision of the Southern Governors especially on ban of open grazing of cattle by herdsmen in the South, Chief Clark accused the President of always promoting the affairs of herdsmen over time even as the head of state of the country.

“However, I advised Mr. President, he is the  President of Nigeria, he is not the President of the North. We all voted for him and under the Constitution. Section two, I think, he has a duty to protect all Nigerians and at the same time, to provide for their welfare.

“But a situation now where we have herdsmen carrying AK 47…First of all, he said they were not Nigerians, that they were coming from Tripoli after Gaddafi’s fall, he allowed them to come in killing our people, they are in the South, they are everywhere, they are even killing our people including people in the North. I do not understand.

“I think that is a very bad statement, uncharitable, very unfortunate. Because, the constitution which his attorney general, is quoting from time to time provides only for freedom of human beings, freedom of Nigerian citizens to move from place to place. Not freedom of cattle or goats or sheep. Open grazing is very archaic. These were the practice 80 years ago in this country.”

Vanguard News Nigeria