Following the expiration of the seven- day ultimatum given by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for herdsmen to vacate forests reserves across Ondo State, there are indications that the Presidency has intervened in the matter.
The quit notice to the herders expired yesterday. Sources told our correspondent that Presidency officials have brokered a parley between South-West governors and the leadership of Miyetti Allah, the umbrella body of herdsmen.
The governors and the leadership of herdsmen are meeting today in Akure to resolve the quit notice order and find ways of addressing the general insecurity in the zone.
A top media aide to one of the governors confirmed that his principal would attend the meeting, which will be held today in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
It was learnt that the Presidency, which had been disturbed by the turn of events in the South- West since the ultimatum was handed to herders, had “secretly” directed the leadership of Miyetti Allah to hold a meeting with governors of the region.
He added that the move was in a bid to stave off a major conflict between herders occupying Ondo State Government Forest Reserves and officials of the state who are poised to enforce the seven-day ultimatum issued by Akeredolu that all illegal occupants of the government reserved forestse, specially herders, must exit such areas.
The source said: “The whole thing was about misconception. We all know the Presidency misinterpreted the Ondo State government’s directive. They took it to mean a total action, which intended to clear the state of all herders.
“And while admitting that the spokesman to Mr. President acted hastily and without proper authorization, they (Presidency) have reached out to other governors to facilitate a meeting where the leadership of Miyetti Allah would likely plead for time to comply with the directive.
“My principal is involved and very concerned too because this is a Yoruba matter and not a personal issue between Akeredolu and the herders. So, we are coming to Akure for the meeting on Monday.” No official of Ondo State Government was prepared to give details about the meeting.
When contacted, the state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Donald Ojogo, merely said meetings are not unusual. Ojogo said: “Well, meetings of that nature, if true, are not unusual.
We are all in it together. No ethnic group or a particular trade is the target of the government order. So, it will be a welcome development if the meeting is holding. There is nothing too unusual about it,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN), Alhaji Bello Garba, when contacted by New Telegraph, disclosed that the group will be meeting with some governors today in Akure. Bello, who failed to dis closed what the agenda of the meeting will be, said that the national leadership of MACBAN had already arrived Akure since yesterday for the meeting.
He said: “The national chairman of Miyetti Allah is in town now and I cannot talk about what we want to discuss at the meeting now, but I can assure you that we are going to address you after the meeting.
“The meeting is to find peace and lasting solution. I am optimistic that the interface between the South-West governors and Miyetti Allah would engender the restoration of the most desired peaceful co-existence, unity and development in the region.
“We intend to work closely with the governors in this region to unmask criminals who masquerade as cattle breeders to inflict mayhem on innocent citizens.
That is why we have decided to embark on peaceful approach by meeting with the governors.”
As the ultimatum expired yesterday, enforcement was expected to commence following the insistence of the state government and stakeholders that the decision be carried out to the letters. Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, had kicked against the ultimatum to the herders, cautioning the governor on the order.