The Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission has cautioned the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) against criticising Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) for his efforts at resolving farmer-herder crisis in the state.
In a statement yesterday in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, the commission condemned NEF for criticizing the governor’s efforts to make Ondo State safe for all residents, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion or political leanings.
A statement by the commission’s Director General, Mr. Seye Oyeleye, read: “The Development Agenda for Western Nigeria Commission observed with concern the highly orchestrated campaign of calumny mounted by some individuals and groups over the recent action of Arakunrin Akeredolu (SAN) in finding a lasting solution to the attack on farmers and their farmlands by herdsmen in Ondo State.
“The orchestrated campaign, which started as a market place rumour, is now assuming a dangerous dimension, especially with the recent press release by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF).
“An attempt to equate the adoption of the state anthem as an assault on the integrity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is tantamount to reducing germane state matters to the level of the mundane.
“The crudity of the allegation against the Ondo State governor and Chairman of Southwest Governors’ Forum, Akeredolu, by the NEF over the adoption of the state anthem in public engagements and schools in Ondo State, has become quite worrisome, especially with the tendency for unsuspecting members of the public to believe the falsehood. This lie is being peddled by the NEF and their backers; before it takes roots, it is better we nip it in the bud.
“The commission will no longer keep quiet and watch the peace and progress that the region is noted for to be threatened by unfounded allegations of political jobbers and ethnic jingoists.
“It is important to state with every sense of responsibility that the allegation that Governor Akeredolu is supporting the agitators of the Yoruba nation is not only spurious, but smacks of a poorly scripted plot aimed at painting him in a scurrilous light.
“The NEF, by its statement, is also attempting to frustrate the good intention of Akeredolu in protecting the farmers and farmlands that are being attacked by armed herders, leading to a threat to food supply and general security in his state and Western Nigeria at large.
“It is rather unfortunate that at this critical stage of our democratic development, when all efforts should be geared towards finding a lasting solution to the frequent attacks on the farmers by the herdsmen, all that interests the NEF is political posturing and grandstanding, which has consistently heated up the polity in the past few weeks.”
“Governor Akeredolu has demonstrated on several occasions that as a responsible governor, his main duty is to protect lives and property of the people living in Ondo State, irrespective of their ethnic or religious background.
“He has also made it clear that he is not in support of any individual or group agitating for Yoruba or Oduduwa nation. By his actions, he has demonstrated that he stands on a virile, united and indivisible Federal Nigeria.
“He does not have to be ‘politically correct’ when it comes to policy formulation in his state with the likes of those whose concern is the wellbeing of the cattle and the armed herders and not the host communities who are predominantly farmers.
“The future of Nigeria must be on mutually agreeable terms and not on the terms of a few privileged who will stop at nothing to maintain this defective status quo that is now violently rocking the boat of the country. For so long, issues have been swept under the carpet, so much so that the carpet is now undulating and tripping everyone who walks on it.
“Governor Akeredolu is clearly guided by the Constitution in trying to address the issues that have buffeted our nationhood and we at the DAWN Commission believe it is in our collective interest, if the likes of NEF join hands with him and others, to steady this ship that is clearly listing.
“As a matter of fact, every state in Southwest has its own anthem with each identifying with Yoruba culture and moral values. That Arakunrin Akeredolu introduced a state anthem that clearly espouses the Omoluabi values of hard work, honesty and integrity in Ondo State should indeed be the least of anyone’s worries, particularly in these perilous times that we are in.”