… As Tinubu, Gbaja, Osoba, Akande, others meet
By Clifford Ndujihe, Politics Editor & Dayo Johnson
CHAIRMAN of the South-West Governors’ Forum, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, yesterday, insisted that governors from the region will not support any secessionist agenda, just as he disowned Yoruba nation agitators, saying they were on their own.
This came on a day leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the zone, opposed separatist agitations in the country, and restated their belief in one Nigeria.
A Yoruba rights activist, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, who held a rally in Akure, Ondo State, weekend, had claimed that they have the support of the Ondo governor for the rally.
But reacting to Igboho’s remarks, Akeredolu, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Richard Olatunde, vowed not to support any secessionist agenda.
The statement read: “It has come to the knowledge of Ondo State Governor, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, that some group of persons who held a rally under the cover of what they term ‘secessionist agitations’ in Akure, on Saturday, May 22, 2021, erroneously claimed to have had his support for the rally.
“Governor Akeredolu wishes to state clearly that while he acknowledges the right of individuals and groups to hold peaceful rallies, it must not be misconstrued to mean support for secessionist agenda or balkanization of the nation; far from it.
“Unequivocally, the governor’s opinion on the Akure rally or any other of its ilk, is only to the effect that he is not opposed to any civil protest which is not in breach of the extant laws of the nation.
“He neither believes nor supports the quest for the Yoruba Nation outside of Nigeria in the manner canvassed.
“Governor Akeredolu stands by a virile, united and indivisible Nigeria as demanded by the Southern Governors’ Forum.
“Therefore, the vigour, zeal, leadership and candour displayed by Governor Akeredolu for a just and fair Nigeria is altruistic, and borne out of patriotism for the nation as well as love for his people, the Yoruba ethnic nationality.
“It is important, therefore, to state without any equivocation that the Yoruba Nation secessionist promoters do not enjoy any lending hand in Governor Akeredolu.”
S-West APC leaders oppose separatist agitations
Similarly, the APC leaders in the South West urged those agitating for separate countries to desist while calling on the Federal Government to ensure devolution of powers to the federating units to address Nigeria’s instability.
They spoke after a four-hour meeting on the state of the nation held at the Lagos State House, Marina.
Party leaders at the meeting were APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; former APC Interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande; former Ogun State Governor, Chief Segun Osoba; House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila; Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun); Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Niyi Adebayo; former APC South-West Vice Chairman, Pius Akinyelure; and elder statesman, General Alani Akinrinade (retd).
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Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State and his Ekiti State counterpart, Dr. Kayode Fayemi were, however, absent at the meeting.
The leaders endorsed the S0outhern governors’ Asaba resolution banning open grazing in the South and asked the Federal Government to make loans available to farmers for ranching in the states.
The communiqué read: “Concerned about the state of the nation, particularly the serious security challenges facing the country, APC leaders in the South-west met in Lagos on Sunday, May 24, 2021.
“The meeting was characterized by open and frank discussions of the difficulties now facing Nigeria.
“Based on these deliberations, the following points of agreement were reached:
“The Leaders commiserate with and console the President and Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari, the military authorities, families of the Chief of Army Staff and other officers who died, and indeed the entire nation over last Friday’s tragic plane crash in Kaduna.”
They expressed their strong opposition to separatist agitations and hate speeches. While urging those indulging in such to desist forthwith, they renew their belief in the unity, stability and sustainability of the country.
“We note with significant concern the security situation in the country. Terrorism and violent criminality threaten many areas, adversely affecting the lives and livelihoods of too many innocent and peace-loving Nigerians. While mindful of the resource and other constraints facing the nation, we urge the federal government to continue to make the necessary expenditures and allocate sufficient resources to enable the military and security agencies tackle the difficult security challenges confronting us.
“For Nigeria to overcome these challenges, we must do so with unity of purpose and action. The desire for peace and the chance for a prosperous and just society are universal and transcend all regional, religious or ethnic divisions. Sadly, many public figures have made statements that spark division and undermine the needed unity of purpose. We urge the government at all levels, security agencies, and public leaders across the country to do everything possible to prevent tension so that we sustain the necessary unity to defeat these challenges to our national security. All responsible Nigerians must speak and act in a manner that strengthens our common cause against these common threats to our collective peace, justice and development.
“We restate our abhorrence of violence as a means to achieve either political or economic power or influence. We strongly condemn the violence of any form in any part of the country, regardless of the ethnic or regional identity of the perpetrators of the violence or of the victims. Government must do all it can to protect potential victims and assist those who have previously been victimized by terrorism or widespread banditry.
“We hold the view that true federalism where more power and resources are allocated to the states will be an essential part in strengthening society and improving democratic governance so that we beat the present challenges but also engender durable peace and security. True federalism and the reallocation of resources and authority that comes with it will empower the states to solve localized issues before they spread and transform into national ones. In addition to mitigating political competition for control of the national government, greater federalism will empower grassroots economic development and political reforms that will stand as bulwarks against the terrorism and criminality now experienced in too many parts of the nation. A hallmark of this enhanced federalism will be the establishment of state police forces.
“We endorse the position of the Southern Governors taken at their May 11, 2021 summit in Asaba, Delta State, regarding ranching. We do so because such a decision will lessen tensions between farmers and herders while also helping the long-term economic viability of both the farming and herding communities.
“We are mindful of the short-term dislocation this might cause but are also mindful that this position is in the best interests of all parties concerned. We, therefore, recommend that the federal and state governments cooperate fully with each other to enact the necessary measures to encourage this more effective and modern method of cattle-rearing so that both farmers and herders can pursue their livelihoods with greater productivity and in a more cooperative relationship that minimizes the friction between these two important pillars of our agricultural economy.
“And finally, we use the opportunity of the meeting to urge the Federal Government to provide, through the CBN, short, medium and long term financing for states and those who may wish to set up ranches as part of the agricultural sustainability policy.”