I Have No Axe To Grind Against The Fulanis Or Any Tribe In Nigeria
In what has been described as efforts to find a lasting solution to the menace of herdsmen and safeguard the lives and properties of residents of Ekiti State, Governor Ayodele Fayose, Thursday, met with leaders and members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association in the state.
Governor Fayose said he has no axe to grind against the Fulanis or any tribe in Nigeria, but noted that he has taken certain actions as a governor and custodian of the popular mandate of Ekiti State, to protect the lives and properties of all residents of the State, irrespective of their tribe, religion and political party.
Fayose said: “This meeting Is in furtherance to our quest to find a lasting solution to the menace of herdsmen and safeguard the lives and properties of all residents of Ekiti State. Interestingly, I am wearing two caps today because I am addressing you both as the governor and also as a cattle farmer. Many of you might be unaware that I also rear cattle like you. I have 83 cows too and I have told the person taking care of them that if he goes against the law and any of them is seized, he will be responsible.
“Like I have maintained, I do not have anything against the Fulanis or any tribe in Nigeria. It is on record that during my first term, I appointed a man from Malunfashi as a Special Adviser. This term too, I appointed Musa Kanga into the Pilgrims Welfare Board, an Igboman is a Councillor in Ward 10 and Ado Local Government.
“Rather, my concern as a governor and custodian of the popular mandate of Ekiti State is to protect the lives and properties of all residents of the State, irrespective of their tribe, religion and political party.
“It is in pursuit of this vital responsibility of government that we have chosen to control cattle grazing in Ekiti State and it is being done in other civilised countries of the world. Or are cattle breeders leading their cattle across city centres and major roads, with the cows defecating everywhere in cities like London, New York, Paris, or even Accra in Ghana and Mecca in Saudi Arabia?
“Let me therefore reiterate that there is no going back on the total enforcement of the Prohibition of Cattle and other Ruminants Grazing in Ekiti State Law, 2016, which came into force on August 29, 2016. It is a law that all residents of Ekiti State must obey. A situation where herdsmen go about with arms is not acceptable to us here in Ekiti and herdsmen found with arms will be arrested and charged with terrorism.
“If we are encouraging our people to embrace farming by giving lands to them to farm through the creation of Land Banks in the 16 Local Councils, and many of them have borrowed money to invest in farming, when these farmlands being cultivated with borrowed funds are destroyed by herdsmen, who are also engaged in their own form of farming, how do we get others to embrace farming?”
Speaking further, the governor said: “In Oke Ako-Ekiti last May, two persons were killed, people’s wives raped by those hiding under the guise of rearing cattle and I expected then that leaders of the Miyetti Allah will show greater concern, but that never happened.
“I was therefore miffed when I read in the newspapers that the Miyetti Allah threatened a reprisal attack on the government and people of Ekiti State and I, as the one the people elected to provide them must not shy away from that responsibility of protecting the people against any aggressor.
“When I heard that you were coming to invade our land, we were also prepared for you people because I am not one of the governors that are afraid of anyone. Some people, because of politics took leaders of Miyetti Allah in Abuja to the Presidential Villa and I ask them, is Ekiti the same as Abuja? Is Senator Babafemi Ojudu who met Miyetti Allah in the Villa in Abuja the governor of Ekiti State? Did he take any step when his own people were attacked and killed?
“As I speak to you today, I am reiterating that Ekiti people and all residents of the State will be protected with everything within my power. That is my duty as a governor and I will perform it without fear or favour.
“I however appreciate the fact that you have now seen reasons that you should cooperate with the government to enforce the anti-grazing law. I am glad that you have now realised that strict compliance with the law is in the interest of all of us.
On the claim that the Ekiti Grazing Enforcement Marshals were shooting cows, Fayose said: “let me state here that it is a white lie from those whose interest is bitter politics. As cattle farmers, which I am one, we must realise that we are not different from other farmers. We are not also different from other businessmen who own business premises where they transact their businesses. If fish farmers are providing their own ponds and poultry farmers building their own pens, while also buying feed for their animals, there is no reason we as cattle farmers should not also provide our own ranch and feed our cows without encroaching on other people’s farmlands and properties.
“Therefore, you have a duty to join in the crusade to free our State from the menace of herdsmen. You must expose those hiding under cattle grazing to perpetrate crimes like armed robbery, murder, rape and willful destruction of people’s properties.
“It was in view of this new approach that I directed the suspension of activities of the Ekiti Grazing Enforcement Marshals (EGEM) till today, so as to enable the free movement of your cattle to designated ranches in the State and I am sure that must have been done.
“Today, I am giving cattle farmers in the State 14 days to register with traditional rulers in the communities where they are operating while the traditional rulers will forward the registered herdsmen to the State government.
“Once again, I thank you for your support and as your governor, I make bold to say expressly that even as cattle farmers, it is my duty to protect your lives and properties and no matter the situation, I will never shy away from this responsibility.”