…. “Statement is capable of causing the country’s breakup. Being the President of Nigeria, it is very unfair and provocative for him to say that what the 17 Southern governors declared was illegal or does not carry the weight of the law.’’
“Because the constitution which his Attorney-General is quoting from time to time provides only for freedom of human beings, freedom of Nigerian citizens to move from place to place, not freedom of cattle or goats or sheep that they can come into your house’’
Elder statesman and Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, has jabbed at President Muhammadu Buhari over a statement credited to him that the position of the 17 Southern governors banning open grazing was illegal and does not carry the weight of law.
“I think that is a very bad statement, uncharitable, very unfortunate,’’ Clark, who turned 94 on Tuesday, told newsmen after the celebration service in his Abuja home by the Anglican Church.
He, therefore, urged Buhari to withdraw the statement as it was capable of causing the country’s breakup.
“But being the President of Nigeria, it is very unfair and provocative for him to say that what the 17 Southern governors declared was illegal or does not carry the weight of law. Because the constitution which his Attorney- General is quoting from time to time provides only for freedom of human beings, freedom of Nigerian citizens to move from place to place.
“Not freedom of cattle or goats or sheep that they can come into your house, they can do whatever think they like, No. When I was young, over 80 years ago, we lived with the Fulani herdsmen at home, nothing happened, we all lived together.
“But what governors are saying is that herdsmen that carry guns, that rape our women, kill our people, kidnap our people must leave, should not be allowed. Open grazing is very archaic. These were the practice 80 years ago in this country,’’ Clark said.
Persecondnews recalls that the Southern governors had at their meeting last week in Asaba, Delta State, banned open grazing in their states and called for restructuring including establishment of state police.
The one-time Information Minister, who was asked by reporters to comment on Buhari’s statement on ban of open grazing, said: “Well, I said today is a special day for me. I didn’t want to comment on such issues that will make me speak in a provocative way.
“However, I will advise Mr. President, as I said this morning on Arise, he is the President of Nigeria,
he is not the President of the North. We all voted for him and under the Constitution, Section two, I think he has a duty to protect all Nigerians and at the same time to provide for their welfare.
“But a situation now where we have herdsmen carrying AK 47. First of all, he said they were not Nigerians that they were coming from Tripoli after Gaddafi’s fall. He allowed them to come in to be killing our people.
They are in the South, they are everywhere and they are even killing our people including people in the North. I do not understand.
“I remember in those days I think in 2002, when he led a delegation to Ibadan to meet the governor of Oyo State at that time (Alhaji Lam Adesina) and told him that the Westerners killed about 65 Fulanis whereas only about two of them were really killed. And so, he has been promoting the affairs of cattle herdsmen over the years and he said is a farmer, he has cattle ranch.’’
Clark pointed out that open grazing had been outlawed in all other parts of the world like Malaysia as they have embraced modern ranching.
He stressed: “So Mr. President’s statement is very uncalled for. And as I said, I remember the Vice-President of Nigeria, who is the number two to him, is the leader of the Economic Council that is provided for in the Constitution.
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All governors are members, the Minister of Finance is a member, the Attorney General is a member.
“They met some time ago I don’t know the date now and passed a resolution that open grazing is archaic, dangerous and should be set aside and let us embrace ranching, modern ranching. The 19 governors of the North also met and took similar decisions, particularly the Governor of Kano state.
“He said that he has enough land for ranching for all the herdsmen. So for him (Buhari) not to condemn any of those ones, for him now to say for the first time Southern governors met and that he is worried. When the 19 Northern governors meet from time to time, he is not worried. He has never criticized them.’’
On calls for secession in the South, Clark restated that he was against such calls, saying “we have no other country to go to. I do not believe in secession. I do not believe in the breakup of Nigeria. But these are huge issues that may break up this country. You can’t force your will on people.
“The governors were elected in the same way he was elected. And they are the chief security officers of their states, they control the Land Use Act, which is embedded in the Constitution.
“The federal government cannot go to any state to acquire land. So if he issued such a statement what does it mean?
He is asking that they should be chaos in the country. People to react and nobody will obey the other person.’’