Ondo and Delta state governments on Wednesday chided Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai for accusing Southern governors of politicising farmer-herder clashes with the enactment of anti-open grazing laws.
They accused El-Rufai of “playing to the gallery” and “encouraging anarchy” with his opposition to the collective decision of his 17 colleagues in the South.
El-Rufai had on Tuesday wondered why the southern governors were rushing to enact laws prohibiting open grazing in their respective states after their colleagues in the North had resolved that ranching was the way out of the clashes between herders and farmers.
He said: “What is unhelpful is politicising the situation and passing legislation that you know that you cannot implement. The Northern State Governors’ Forum has already taken a position that open grazing is not a sustainable way of livestock production. And we must move towards ranching.”
But Ondo and Delta state governments said there was “no wisdom” in the comment of the governor, who is known for ”talking out of turn.”
Also, Osun State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola defended the state’s anti-open grazing law, saying it was meant to safeguard the lives of residents.
Ondo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation Donald Ojogo said going by the comment, El-Rufai, was plotting to externalise banditry.
He said: “It is apt to state clearly that the likes of Governor El-Rufai are already in a hysteric ‘mode’ of escalating and indeed, externalising banditry, especially as the military onslaught against criminal elements and other terror variants suffice in the North.
“For emphasis, any such comment like that of the Kaduna Governor merely seeks to encourage anarchy under the guise “of resentment of a law” by affected stakeholders.
“In other words, it is a cleverly crafted path towards replicating in the South, the most despicable situation in the North that Nigerians of goodwill daily pray to overcome. It’s a ploy beyond the ordinary.
“It must be noted that the anti-open grazing law, especially in Ondo State, has come to stay. It shall be zealously guarded and conscionably deployed to protect all residents, notwithstanding their ethnic and religious biases. Those who have nothing evil to perpetrate have nothing to fear as regards the law.”
Olisa Ifeajika, Chief Press Secretary to Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, said it was uncharitable for El Rufai to criticise his colleagues for enacting laws for the public good.
Ifeajika said: “It is most uncharitable for El Rufai to make such comments about what his colleagues are doing. Unfortunately, El Rufai is known for talking out of turn. It is hogwash. He is playing to the gallery.
“Anyone that infringes on the law when it becomes operational, will face the music. I wonder whether El-Rufai can come all the way from Kaduna State to stop its enforcement. It is wrong for him to dare his colleagues. As far as Delta is concerned, that is El Rufai talking in Kaduna. It is of no consequence in Delta State.”
In Osogbo, the Osun State capital, Oyetola told stakeholders, including herders, that the anti-open grazing law was not meant to witch hunt them.
Oyetola who was represented by his Special Adviser on Civic Engagement, Olatunbosun Oyintiloye, said: “The law banning open grazing is not to witch hunt the Fulani, Bororo, and herders, but to protect all the residents of the state. The law will help the already existing harmonious relationship that we are enjoying in the state.
“It will make it very easy to identify intruding herders coming into the state who may be fomenting troubles and tagging the leadership of the herders and the Fulani.”
At the Anambra State House of Assembly, the Anti-Open Grazing Bill passed its first reading yesterday. The second reading is expected to come up on Tuesday
Ohanaeze Ndigbo also criticised El-Rufai, saying his comment was intended to demean the position of the Southern governors.
The organisation said the only reason El-Rufai could make such remarks was that almost all the commissioners of police in Southern Nigeria were of Northern extraction.
“We call it (El-Rufai’s remark) arrogance because the position of the 17 governors should be taken very seriously. We didn’t expect that a governor would rise and make a remark that tends to demean the position of his colleagues,” the group’s spokesman, Alex Ogbonnia, said.
Ogbonnia added: “El-Rufai’s outburst is one of the reasons we are calling for a decentralised security architecture and also the need for such regional security outfits like Ebube Agu and Amotekun.
“Governor El-Rufai knows that most of these commissioners of police are from the north and sometimes they may not be willing to cooperate in the implementation of the law against open grazing. That’s why I said his comment smacks of arrogance.”