By James Sowole
Ondo State Governor and Chairman of the South-west Governors’ Forum, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, yesterday declared that the state is not part of the mode of agitation for a sovereign Yoruba nation being canvassed by activists allegedly led by Chief Sunday Igboho.
The governor made the declaration in Akure, the state capital, at the swearing -of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Princess Oladunni Odu, and four Special Advisers.
He stated that no part of the state shall permit any gathering or agitation which may suggest, however, remotely, that “we are in support of unthinking rabble rousing.”
According to Akeredolu, “I state unequivocally as the governor of Ondo State, who was elected by the people to serve them and protect their interests that our people have elected to stay in the Federal Republic of Nigeria as constituted presently.”
He, however, noted that the growing disaffection was generated by seeming inaction or passive indifference on the part of elected and appointed representatives of the government at all levels.
The governor added: “Why some have been measured in their reactions to these problems, others have been less diplomatic. It is not uncommon to find groups and individuals purporting to act or speak on behalf of the rest of us.
“While it is the right of citizens to discuss, agitate and even fight to right perceived wrongs, which might culminate in self-determination, this must be done within known and acceptable parameters.
“All concerned must be identified, that is, agreed to pursue the same objectives to achieve a desirable or desired end. There must be a common platform through which the demands, from the most mundane to the sublime, must be presented.
“The reasons for the declaration of hostilities must not be fleeting fancies of disaffection engendered by perceived politics of exclusion for personal benefits. Self-determination must be a collective programme of action.
“We will continue to encourage dialogue as an effective tool in resolving disputes. We will also not shy away from joining others to insist on socio-economic justice.
“We will, however, not subscribe to banditry and recklessness in putting forth our demands.
“Our people are knowledgeable enough to determine their interest at any point. If and when they consider self-determination as an option, they will not depend on external promptings to act, and that is why we are different. That is why we are who we are.”
Akeredolu vowed to continue to eject and punish all trespassers occupying forests reserves with a view to ridding the state of undesirable elements.
He said his administration would continue to arrest any under-age herder as well as prosecute the mindless handlers of “these unfortunate kids.”
He explained that his administration opted to participate in the Federal Government National Livestock Transformation Programme because it’s aimed at encouraging any private businessman who took interest in breeding cattle to participate in the modern methods for profit.
The Ondo State governor said it was not about a settlement of an ethnic group but a programme to be funded by the federal government in which they must be active participants.
Meanwhile, Akeredolu, who condemned the attack on the convoy of the Benue State Governor, Mr. Samuel Ortom, urged security agencies to unmask the ‘agents of darkness’ bent on throwing the country into a state of anarchy.