Ondo state governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, has said the state will eject and punish anyone, either herders or farmers illegally occupying the state’s forest reserves.
The governor said this at the swearing-in ceremony of the new secretary to the state government, Princess Oladunni Odu and four special advisers at the Cocoa conference Hall, Governor’s Office, Akure.
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He said his administration will not relent on its decision to rid the state of undesirable elements.
“We owe no one any further explanation or apology on this resolve to ensure peace other than our people. Anyone who intends to engage in a private business of animal husbandry, in this age, must be ready to abide with the modern methods or quit.
“We, therefore, reiterate our stance on the prohibition of open grazing by cattle rearers in any part of Ondo State. On this, there shall be no compromise. In a similar vein, we will continue to arrest any under-age herders in the state.
“The Government will prosecute the mindless handlers of these unfortunate kids. We will insist on punishing any errant herdsman and exact compensation commensurate to the level of destruction of farms and businesses in any part of the State.
“Anyone who commits a crime under the guise of outmoded pastoralism shall be sanctioned severely. We will proceed to mobilize the people against this menace. The people of Ondo State will not accept any aberrant incursion into our space.
“This Administration, under our leadership will not shirk its responsibilities in any manner. We will not mortgage the future of the coming generations for political expediency. We do not want to be seen as politically correct when our people are dying and/or losing their legitimate means of livelihood.
Peoples welfare remains priority
“We shall not embrace the counsel of the treacherous and wicked. The welfare of the people shall remain the primary focus of governance. No one will be allowed to trample on the rights of our people. The people of Ondo State shall not become underlings in their own space.
“We will also not be afraid to take decisions considered beneficial to our people. We shall be encouraging all those interested in animal husbandry to embrace new methods. ”
Governor Akeredolu also said that the government will encourage indigenes of the state who wish to take to that aspect of agriculture to do so as they shall enjoy the support of the government.
Non-indigenes with verifiable identities, he said shall be allowed to bring in cattle to designated Ranches and deed lots and they would be permitted to graze on the ranches for a fee.
‘We won’t cede the land of our ancestors to anyone’
“We will not cede the land of our ancestors to any person under any guise. All legitimate endeavours shall be supported by the Government for as long as they are of direct benefit to the people of Ondo State.
“It is in the light of this that this Administration reiterates its intention to participate in the Federal Government National Livestock Transformation Programme.
“This programme aims at encouraging any private businessman who takes interest in breeding cattle to participate in the modern methods for profit. It is not about sustaining the antiquated cultural practice which allows cattle to move from the remotest parts of the Sahel region to the savannah. It is not about a settlement of an ethnic group foreign to Ondo State on our land. It is to be funded by the Federal Government, our people must be active participants on our soil. The State shall generate revenue from cattle feeding in ranches, slaughtering of cows, among others.
“The proposed ranches shall not be for human habitation in Ondo State. All those who bring in cattle and the herds shall be registered. Nobody will be allowed to form new settlements on our ancestral lands. Cattle rearing shall be for business, strictly, in Ondo State.