By Adekola Afolabi
The Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, his counterpart in Ogun state, Prince Dapo Abiodun and four other Northern Governors, yesterday took their advocacy of peaceful coexistence among all ethnic nationalities in Nigeria to Ogun State.
Speaking at a Stakeholders’ parley on farmers/herders conflict held in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital, governor Akeredolu and all other Governors at the meeting unanimously agreed that criminals in whatever guise should be severely dealt with and treated as such without giving it ethnic colouration.
The four Northern Governors at the parley included Abdulahi Ganduje of Kano; Chairman, Progressives Forum, Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi; Abubakar Bello of Niger and Muhammed Matawalle of Zamfara States.
The parley was organised by the Ogun state government to find a lasting solution to the incessant herders/farmers clashes which many people believed is now taking ethnic dimension across the country also had in attendance traditional rulers, leadership and members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Farmers Association, heads of security agencies and religious leaders.
Addressing the gathering on behalf of the South-West Governors’ Forum, Governor Akeredolu, explained that the Governors of the region would not allow criminals to breed banditry and insurgency in the government’s forest reserves, hence criminal herders would be flushed out of the reserves.
Akeredolu disclosed that South-West is learning from the festering cases of insurgency in other parts of the country insisted that government would not allow criminality to fester in the reserves, hence all hands must be on deck to fight criminals and put an end to the ongoing crises in the interest of all.
The Chairman, South-West Governors’ Forum, who explained that no one should defend criminals in whatever guise, also said open grazing which has continued to create crisis among farmers and herders was no longer sustainable.
According to Akeredolu, the herders need not to bother moving their cows from distant areas to any part of the country as buyers could locate them anywhere they are and buy the cows.
The Governor who described as unfortunate and disturbing the current spate of insecurity in the country assured the people of the untainted resolve of government to do everything within its power to guarantee the security of lives and property,
He said the incessant attacks and counter attacks heightening insecurity in the country at the moment and do not reflect the ways of life of Nigerians who are peace loving people, having cohabited for long irrespective of socio- cultural and ethnic differences.
Akeredolu noted that the current situation would not last long as efforts are being intensified by governments, security agencies and other relevant stakeholders to stem the tide of insecurity in whatever form in the land.
The Governor used the parsley to highlight the commercial benefits of keeping cows in designated areas instead of moving them around from one region to another, urging them to reflect on the business opportunity that the situation was offering.
Earlier, the host Governor, Dapo Abiodun, appreciated governor Akeredolu and his counterparts from the North for identifying with the government and people of Ogun State at this very trying times foisted on the state by some criminal elements.
He revealed that the outcome of the parley would foster peace and development in the country as it would find a lasting solution to the incessant herders/farmers clashes
In separate remarks, the four Northern Governors unanimously agreed that there is need to stop open grazing and check the influx of foreign herders into the country without proper identification and records.
Kano State Governor, Ganduje called said the northern Governors have also agreed to stop the movement of cattle from the North to the South as one of the ways of providing lasting solutions to farmers/herders clashes in the country.
The Governors also called on the Federal Government to provide incentives and other palliatives for herders and also encourage animal husbandry to proffer lasting solutions to the incessant crises.