Chido Nwangwu accentuates the great depth of insight conveyed by recent statements credited to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State
For good reasons of being a courageous and reasonable articulator of the diversity of the embattled democracy project in Nigeria, my contacts in Washington DC and the U.S Department of State, indicate a rising profile for the Ondo State Governor and legal scholar, Rotimi Akeredolu. He appears in the eyes of the Diaspora Nigerians a leader who speaks to the facts and realities of the rapidly dangerous twists of insecurity and violence. Insecurity and terrorism, incrementally and installmentally, are destroying the fabric of Nigeria.
Leadership, most of the time, emerges in times of crises and conflicts and challenges. Evidently, in some ways, Akeredolu’s clarity and specificity on burning national issues sets him far apart from the unclear, double-speak and tangled statements of the complicated aspirant for the 2023 presidential elections, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Tinubu, being the former Governor of Lagos.
There’s a challenge and opportunity to lead from the front — in today’s Nigeria. Back-to-back since the past 10 days, while Tinubu and other Buhari-cannot-be-wrong (BCBW) political journey men and partisan travelers bounce from the Sokoto caliphate to the Kano Emirate, on Tuesday, May 25, 2021, Akeredolu raised the weight and pointedness of the language of engagement regarding the political economy and power.
Akeredolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, responded to the statement from the Buhari presidency, which attacked the recent resolutions and recommendations of the 17 Southern governors of Nigeria to ban open grazing by cattle in the region, their call for Nigeria’s president, retired Major General Mohammadu Buhari to hold a national dialogue and seek effective solutions to the escalating issues of insecurity across the country.
In the statement by Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, the resolutions and suggestions issued by the governors were belittled as “acts of politicking intended by its signatories to demonstrate power.” Shehu added that it was an attempt to violate the rights of some Nigerians.
Then, came Akeredolu’s thunderous take down of Shehu Garba in a news release titled, ‘Mr Garba Shehu: On the Trail of an Agent Provocateur’. For valuable context, let me an extended excerpt from that explosive news release which has since gone viral. Akeredolu threw the equivalent of a credibility bomb at the presidential spokesman, asking that “Mr. Garba must disclose, this day, the real motive(s) of those he serves, definitely not the President. He can’t continue to hide under some opaque, omnibus, and dubious directives to create confusion in the polity. Mr. Garba contends that ‘their announcement is of questionable legality’, referring to the 17 Governors of the Southern states, but the decision of certain elements to take the ancestral lands of other people to settle their kinsmen, including the “gun-wielding “killer herdsmen” and their families, and provide “veterinary clinics, water points for animals, and facilities for herders and their families including schooling through these rehabilitated reserves” for which “the Federal Government is making far-reaching and practical changes allowing for different communities to co-exist side-by-side”, does not appear to him as a comprehensive plan for land grabbing, a precursor to internal colonialism.”
“Governors no longer have powers over the lands in their territories. They must take instructions from appointees of the Federal Government on such matters.”
“It is clear that Mr. Garba seems to have issues understanding the difference between licentious criminality and qualified rights under our law. It’s our duty to continually nudge him off his current state of cognitive dissonance. His pronouncement betrays dubiety and mischief. It raises suspicion on a grand, deliberate, persistent, and insidious design to use naked force to subjugate the real owners of the land. Mr Garba Shehu is a major supporter of the current pervasive anarchy in the land.”
A few days before the Shehu showdown, Akeredolu had countered the criticism made on Channels TV by Nigeria’s Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Shehu Malami, on the decision of the Southern governors banning open grazing of cattle by anyone in their own states. “…it is as good as saying, perhaps, maybe, the Northern governors coming together to say they prohibit spare parts trading in the north…. Does it hold water? Does it hold water for a Northern governor to come and state expressly that he now prohibits spare parts trading in the north?” Malami’s description of the sellers of auto parts is a veiled reference to the Igbo business persons who are, by far, the nationwide leaders of the auto parts business. The herds of cattle are led, predominantly, by Fulani herdsmen from the Northern sections of Nigeria and parts of the Sahel. Malami is Fulani.
Akeredolu’s precise counterpoint came like a Texas tornado: “Comparing this anachronism, which has led to loss of lives, farmlands and property, and engendered untold hardship on the host communities, with buying and selling of auto parts is not only strange. It, annoyingly, betrays a terrible mindset.”
Clearly, the diplomatic circuits of the world are asking: who is the silver-bearded, straight-talking leader?
- Credit: THIS DAY