Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State has described Malam Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, as a pitiable messenger who does not know the limits of his relevance.
Akeredolu, who is chairman of the South-West Governors Forum, said this while responding to Shehu’s statement on the Southern Governors decision to ban open grazing.
In a statement on Monday, Shehu had questioned the legality of the Southern Governors’ action, saying Nigerians ought to enjoy the same rights and freedoms across the country, regardless of the state of their birth or residence.
Shehu said the declaration of the Southern Governors had been preempted as Buhari, who had been worried about the problems between farmers and herders, commissioned and approved an actionable plan of rehabilitating grazing reserves across states.
But Akeredolu, who described Shehu as an agent provocateur, said the presidential media aide did not speak for Buhari.
“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 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, Alhaji 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.
“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.”
Akeredolu, a lawyer, said Shehu seems to have issues understanding the difference between “licentious criminality and qualified rights under our law”.
The governor alleged that Shehu is a major supporter of the current “pervasive anarchy” in the land.
“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.
“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.”