Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu yesterday warned agitators for secession and disintegration to stay away from the Sunshine State.
He said the people of Ondo State were not prepared to embrace the clamour for a sovereign Yoruba State being championed by activist Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Igboho.
Akeredolu said Ondo people had elected to cohabit as a federating unit in the country as it is presently constituted.
He emphasised that no part of the state would permit any gathering or agitation, which may suggest, however remotely, that the people are in support of what he termed “unthinking rabble rousing.”
Also yesterday, the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) said those hiding under the sentiment of insecurity to hatch the plot to balkanise Nigeria were projecting a misplaced priority.
Akeredolu, who spoke while swearing in Princess Oladunni Odu as Secretary to the Government (SSG) and other special advisers, also said the state would neither condone banditry nor recklessness in the process of interest articulation.
Akeredolu said the right of residents to discuss, agitate and seek redress for perceived wrongs, and the call for self-determination, must be done within known and acceptable parameters.
He said the people must agree to pursue the same objectives to achieve a desirable goal.
Akeredolu said the declaration of hostilities by aggrieved activists should not be a product of disaffection triggered by perceived politics of exclusion for personal benefits.
He added: “We will not be led to assured annihilation by anyone or a group of people, still smarting from the electoral defeats of recent times and presumed exclusion from the process of decision-making.
“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. That is why we are different. That is why we are who we are.”
Akeredolu vowed to continue to eject and punish trespassers occupying the forest reserves in a bid to rid the state of undesirable elements.
He said anyone wishing to engage in a private business of animal husbandry in the state must be ready to abide with the modern methods or quit the state.
Akeredolu said his administration would continue to arrest the under-age herders and prosecute the mindless handlers of “these unfortunate kids.’
He explained that the state opted to participate in the Federal Government’s National Livestock Transformation Programme because it aimed at encouraging private businessman who took interest in breeding cattle to participate in the modern methods for profit making.
Eminent politician and Afenifere chieftain Senator Biyi Durojaye canvassed against a rush of emotion, saying that the solutions to the burning national issues are not elusive.
He said he had written a nine-page memorandum to the Senate, encompassing how the problems can be resolved, his passionate pleas to the youths and suggestions to the government.
Urging Yoruba to unite, he recalled that Yoruba had resolved many knotty challenges in Nigeria in the past, stressing that the wisdom that enabled them to wittingly strategicaly come up with workable solutions had not disappeared from the race.
NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy. Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said certain elements were capitalising on “weak and ineffective governance” to attack the country from its foundation.
He said these elements included “persons who have public standing, political adventurers and upstarts.”
Baba-Ahmed alleged that these individuals and groups were also questioning the legitimacy of the Nigerian State, its ability to fight against subversion and other acts of hostility, and its commitment to uphold the rule of law.
He said:” “The only voices being heard are those which demand the balkanization of the country, or encourage dangerous politics and other acts that pitch some communities against others.
“The disturbing silence from responsible Nigerians and the capitulation of hitherto influential groups to politics of the gutter is creating a dangerous space which further erodes the chances that a rational approach to the triggers to these provocations can be found”.
NEF urged credible leaders, elders and other responsible Nigerians to rise up and avert an imminent disaster.
The group said the provocations and threats are directly related to maneuvers for 2023, as well as attempts to hurt and weaken the North by making it the culprit behind all manner of grievances.
Baba-Ahmed said the people who believe they can intimidate or threaten the North into submitting to their demands are grossly mistaken.
He added: “There is a long way to go before 2023. Our democratic process must not be made the hostage to dangerous and shortsighted politics. There are politicians who think weakening the country is their best guarantee for achieving their goals.
On March 17, Igboho in a viral video declaration of ‘Yoruba Nation’ elicited reactions.
He said: “The Yoruba that are everywhere are larger than most countries, therefore we call on the global community and United Nations to come and separate us.
”We are no longer interested in being part of Nigeria before this becomes war, they need to intervene because we want to go.
”As it stands now, we are no longer under Nigeria. If they don’t intervene, it will go beyond control. We have gone beyond the point where we keep quiet; we are no longer scared to voice out.
“My advice to the Yorubas in the North is to find your way back home.