The Ogun government on Tuesday held a stakeholders’ meeting aimed at resolving the recent farmers/herders clashes in parts of the state.
The meeting, which was held at the Obas Complex in Abeokuta, was also attended by Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo and four governors from states in the North.
The governors were Abubakar Bello (Niger); Abubakar Bagudu (Kebbi); Bello Matawalle (Zamfara) and Abdulahi Ganduje (Kano)
The Yewa-axis of Ogun had in the recent past recorded series of clashes between cattle herders and local farmers leading to loss of lives and property.
Prince Dapo Abiodun of Ogun had on Thursday, set up a special task force comprising of top government officials, security agencies and local vigilante group to embark on fact-finding mission to the area.
Abiodun, speaking at the forum, said that the meeting had become necessary because the clashes were assuming a dangerous dimension.
The governor, who noted that herders and farmers had peacefully cohabited from time immemorial in Ogun, expressed worry over the development.
“I find it worrisome that farmers and herders who have been living for many years in our state and have continued to find joint solutions to their mutual challenges are suddenly at each other’s throat on account of sources of livelihood.
“We have noted that the misapprehensions had taken a violent dimension in the last couple of weeks with cases of arson, maiming and killings in extreme instances.
” The question is; what could have turned issues that hitherto had easy and workable templates for resolutions to suddenly become seemingly intractable,” he wondered.
Abiodun insisted that as a responsible government, the state could not fold its arms concerning a problem which was fast taking on an ethnic coloration.
The governor noted that his administration had always been methodical, inclusive, responsible and responsive in its approach to governance including security.
“We have set up a Fact- Finding Team headed by a Special Adviser to the Governor who is a Retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG);
” We have deployed a special security task force comprising of the Military, Nigerian Police, Department of State Services (DSS), local Vigilante groups, representatives of farmers, and representatives of other ethnic groups resident in our dear State.
” Already they are stationed in the hot spots of the conflict and we are sending them technical and logistic support, including vehicles and communication equipment.
” Additional vehicles and communication gadget have been procured and will be given out today after this event.
“Just on Monday, we held a Security Council meeting where this issue was extensively discussed and thereafter we relocated to the hotspots of crisis for an on-the-spot assessment of situation,” he recalled among other initiatives.
The governor stressed that the first priority of his administration was the safety of lives and property of everyone irrespective of the circumstances of their birth, ethnic or religious leanings.
He said it had become evident from the interim report of the fact- finding team that “some elements are bent on setting our people against one another by whipping up ethnic sentiments”.
Abiodun assured that the government would deal ruthlessly with anybody or group involved in such divisive tendencies.
He said that Ogun would continue to be home to its citizens and all those who had legitimate business and had made the state their home.
The governors, who spoke in turns, condemned the system of open grazing, saying that ” it is not sustainable”.
They all stressed the need for Nigeria to transform from the traditional ways of moving cattle to the modern methods.
The governors therefore called on the federal government to assist herders through increased investment to practice ranching.
Mr. Segun Dasaolu, the Chairman of the Ogun chapter of the All Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (AFAN), in his remarks called for the profiling and enumeration of herders in the state for proper identification of genuine Fulani herders in the state.
Alhaji Muhammadu Kirowa, National President, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), in his remarks, called for joint efforts at identify the bandits perpetrating the violence, whom he described as “foreign herders”