As the discussion rages on, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has vehemently remonstrated the assertion by the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, that it would be better for those that were opposed to cattle ranching to surrender their lands than to die in the herdsmen’s attacks.
Adesina, while speaking on an African Independent Television (AIT) programme on Tuesday, had told the anti-ranching protesters that they would only lay claim to ancestral attachment when they were still alive.
Reacting to Adesina’s comments in a statement signed by Mr. Yinka Odumakin (South-west), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-south), Prof Chigozie Ogbu (South-east) and Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt), the forum described Adesina’s position as “scandalous, reckless, insensitive and vexatious.”
“The attention of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has been drawn to the scandalous, reckless, insensitive and vexatious statement credited to Mr. Femi Adesina, Special Adviser, Media to the President that all communities opposed to Federal Cattle Territories (FCT) misnamed ranches should choose between their lands and their lives.
“Ancestral attachment? You can only have ancestral attachment when you are alive. If you are taking about ancestral attachment, if you are dead how does the attachment matter?” said Adesina.
“We take this ludicrous declaration as a death sentence on all those who oppose the imperialist agenda of the federal government to grab lands from communities in Nigeria and hand over to herdsmen for their private business.
“Adesina is close to the heart of presidency to know why it has treated killer Fulani herdsmen with kid gloves in the last three years and the arrogance with which he spoke showed they now assume their foot soldiers have terrorised us into submission .
“This death threat is coming after the president told the governor of Benue State in January to learn how to live with murderers, the Inspector General of Police saying the killers are Nigerians, the Defence Minister claiming that blockage of cattle routes is the reason the herdsmen are killing and the same Adesina telling us the killings done under Buhari in three years have not equalled the number of deaths that occurred under PDP,” the leaders stated.
According to the forum, Adesina’s statement is a confirmation of their earlier charge that the role of the president and the duty the president owes to the terror herdsmen are in conflict, adding that there is greater allegiance to the cows than the country.
“If Adesina keeps his job in the next 24 hours, all doubt would be removed over the statement Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd) made that there is a working relationship between the killers and the security forces,” they said.