Ondo Forest: Disagreement Between Akeredolu And Presidency Good For Democracy – Lukman

The Director-General of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governors Forum, Salihu Lukman has submitted that the recent exchange of words between the Ondo State government and the presidency shouldn’t be seen as a bad occurrence.

The Progressive Governors’ Forum DG stated that it is a pointer to the liberal nature of the All Progressives Congress (APC) but where important issues won’t be swept under the carpet as a family affair.

Calling attention to the fact that both the Ondo government and the federal government belong to the same party and they have openly disagreed on an issue points to the beauty of democracy where all stakeholders can have a say towards developmental efforts without fear, favour, or intimidation, he submitted.

He however agreed that the matter could have been better handled by both parties, rather than trading words, statements, and media tussles.

Lukman noted that the issue is about solving national challenges and not pitching tents behind any of the parties involved.

“While it is possible that initiatives are already taking place to resolve the issue between Ondo State government and federal government, to the extent that rather than announcements of resolutions of how initiatives to prevent and arrest crimes are hardly the case, confirms high degree of weakness in addressing national challenges. Instead, most of the public debate is about which group we want to support.

“Luckily, on this matter, both Ondo State and the federal government are controlled by the APC. This simply confirms the liberal atmosphere in APC.

“On a matter as grave as the issue of kidnapping, banditry and other criminal activities, it will not be treated in APC as a family affair when it affects APC controlled state government but differently with state governments controlled by other parties.

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“The issue is about responding to a national challenge. It is about Nigeria, which is why our leaders must exercise restraint when making public statements.

“At all times, our leaders and all of us, must carry the burden of national unity such that statements and proposals for reforms should inspire Nigerians to respect each other and recognise the incontestability of supporting initiatives from every part of the country in order to prevent or arrest crime, no matter its strength. As our party manifesto rightly emphasized, ‘It is no longer a question of choice but of will and courage!’, Lukman noted in the statement.

The Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu had ordered herdsmen in the state to vacate the forest reserves within a period of seven days counting from Monday, 18th January.

The Governor also banned night grazing as well as highway and under-age grazing in the state.

According to Akeredolu in a statement issued on his official Twitter handle, the actions are part of efforts by the government to combat cases of kidnappings and other security challenges in the state.

He noted further that public debate about the issue is drifting away from the matter addressed by the Governor when he announced the ban as well as the note of caution sounded by Garba Shehu in response to the ultimatum issued.

Reacting to the declaration by the Ondo state governor, President Muhammadu Buhari in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, described what is emerging as a lack of consistency in messaging which in turn leads to various contradictions regarding the accuracy and the intent behind the message.

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Buhari urged the state government and the leadership of the Fulani communities to continue their dialogue for a good understanding that will bring to an urgent end the nightmarish security challenges.

The matter has continued to generate mixed reactions from individuals, politicians, groups, regional and tribal leaders who are pitching tents for and against the declaration by the Ondo State government.

Lukman however submitted that rather than pitch tents, all parties must work together to find a lasting and permanent solution.

“No Nigerian, or indeed any rational person, irrespective of nationality, can oppose this laudable objective of the Ondo State government. Mallam Garba Shehu wouldn’t have disagreed with the objectives as expressed in the statement of Governor Akeredolu. But somehow, from all the media debate going on, this is hardly the case.

“The response to the statement of Governor Akeredolu by Mallam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity), on January 19, 2021, is generating all manner of debate, which is completely at variance with the intended objective announced by Governor Akeredolu. “The debate also completely departs from Mallam Garba Shehu’s ‘call for restraint on both sides and urge the state government and the leadership of Fulani communities to continue their dialogue for a good understanding that will bring an urgent end, the nightmarish security challenges facing the state,” the statement added.

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