The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has lambasted the Ondo state Governor Rotimi Akeredolu for disrespecting the President’s office in his response to measures approved by President Muhammadu Buhari to end the recurring herdsmen-farmers’ crisis in the country.

It said in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiji and Secretary Cassidy Madueke that the governor’s position was an intemperate, reckless and spiteful outburst on the President’s well-thought-out decision to revive forest reserves as a more realistic and acceptable alternative to open grazing, which the Southern Governors Forum was averse to without proffering a better solution.

The group said: “It is unfortunate that Governor Akeredolu could sign off on a vitriolic press statement by one Doyin Odebowale that not only calls to question President Buhari’s right to proffer an alternative to open grazing but was also a barely disguised attack on the Presidential Spokesman Garba Shehu who a few days ago informed Nigerians of his principal’s approval of an ‘actionable plan of rehabilitating grazing reserves’.

“We find it strange that a governor elected on the same platform as the President and whose rise to the position he presently occupies owes to President Buhari’s goodwill at a time the governor was not in the good books of the party’s influential leaders could hide behind an uncouth aide to throw subtle shade at his benefactor.

“Aside from name-calling and outright insults directed at the President’s spokesman, Akeredolu through his rude aide accused Mallam Garba Shehu of attributing what he described as a unilateral decision to President Buhari and also gave the impression that he was not speaking the President’s mind on the matter even though there was a reference to a commissioned report that was the outcome of consultation with farmers and herders.

“Yes, the Presidential spokesman alluded to the revival of forest reserves and added that it would be in states that are ‘committed to it as a solution as well as those that are compliant with stated requirements’, but surprisingly the governor’s aide went ballistic, apparently without adequately comprehending the message, and proceeded on a rant that was not different from the inflammatory rhetoric Sunday Igboho and his co-travellers have been pushing out.

“We know that this is not the first time that Governor Akeredolu would be attacking the Presidential spokesman for doing his work as we recall that when Mallam Garba called him out in January this year for issuing an eviction notice to herdsmen in Ondo state, there was a similar response from certain Ondo government officials who claimed he was supporting criminals even after the governor claimed he was quoted out of context.”

The group noted that the type of messages from the camp of the Ondo state governor indicate that the self-styled Yoruba activist Sunday Igboho may have been right when he claimed recently that he enjoyed the support of Governor Akeredolu for his secessionist agitation.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that Akeredolu has a partner in the political thug that is at the forefront of demands for a Yoruba nation despite his half-hearted attempt to dissociate himself from Igboho. Otherwise, why would his aide pretend not to know the difference between peaceful and law-abiding herdsmen who the ranches would be available to and those he called ‘denizens of the forests’?

“We are constrained to say that the statement by the governor’s aide reeks of malice, and the references therein are outright falsehood by someone out to misrepresent an innocuous statement from the Presidency that outlined how President Buhari intends to institutionalise ranching as opposed to governors who are keen on banning open grazing but have no alternative plans. 

“We make bold to say that President Buhari authorised the statement issued and signed by Mallam Garba Shehu on the Federal government’s plan to rehabilitate forest reserve for cattle ranching and if Governor Akeredolu has any problem with it, he should publicly take on the President and not hide behind the naked finger of an uncivilized aide.

“We also urge him, as a matter of decency, to call his attack dog to order for going beyond his bounds by making unverified allegations against a Presidential spokesman whom he irresponsibly described as a major supporter of the current pervasive anarchy in the land’ as well as his resort to ethnic profiling to drive home his warped position”, it added.

BMO reassured Nigerians that the President’s position on reviving forest reserves does not amount to land grab or handing over land to “a band of invaders masquerading as herdsmen’ contrary to the misinformation endorsed by Governor Akeredolu.