As the seven-day ultimatum issued by Ondo State governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, to Fulani herdsmen to vacate the state’s forest reserves ended on Sunday, the leadership of the Miyetti Allah are set to meet with the South West Governors Forum on Monday in Akure, the state capital.
The meeting is expected to find lasting solutions to the incessant killings, kidnapping and crises between herdsmen and farmers in the region.
One of the media aides to one of the South West governors who confirmed that his principal would be in Akure today to attend the meeting between the leadership of Miyetti Allah and other governors from the region.
According to him, the presidency has been disturbed with the turn of events in the South-West and has secretly directed the leadership of Miyetti Allah to hold an urgent meeting with governors of the region.
He explained that the presidency noticed the determination and insistence of Ondo State government and Akeredolu to carry out the order to the letter and had to design a way to appeal to Ondo governor and the South-West governors before the ultimatum ends.
He, however, said the meeting was organized between the South-West governors and the Miyetti Allah in a bid to stave off a major conflict between herders occupying the South-West region.
Akeredolu had ordered that all illegal occupants, especially herders on the government reserved forests must register with the state government or vacate from such areas.
The ultimatum ended on Sunday and enforcement was expected to commence following the insistence of the state government and stakeholders that the decision is carried out to the letter.
However, there have been alterations between the Ondo State Government and presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, on the propriety or otherwise of the governor’s directive since it was issued last week Monday.
But the top media aide said “the whole thing was about a misconception. We all know the presidency misinterpreted the Ondo State government’s directive. They took it to mean a total action which intended to clear the state of all herders.
“And while admitting that the spokesman to Mr President acted hastily and without proper authorization, the presidency has reached out to other governors to facilitate a meeting where the leadership of Miyetti Allah would likely plead for time to comply with the directive.
“My principal is involved and very concerned too because this is a Yoruba matter and not a personal issue between Akeredolu and the herders. So we are coming to Akure for the meeting tomorrow at 12.
“We need to give the honour to our chairman, the governor of Ondo State who is even leading the fight against insecurity in the region.”
Confirming the meeting, the Ondo State Chairman of Miyetti Allah, Alhaji Bello Garba said the national leadership of the body has arrived in Akure in preparation for the peace meeting.
He said “the national chairman of Miyetti Allah is in town now and I cannot talk about what we want to discuss at the meeting now but I can assure you that we are going to address you tomorrow after the meeting.
“The meeting is to find peace and lasting solution and I am optimistic that the interface between the South-West governors and Miyetti Allah would engender the restoration of the most desired peaceful co-existence, unity and development in the region.
“We intend to work closely with the governors in this region to unmask criminals who masquerade as cattle breeders to inflict mayhem on innocent citizens. That is why we have decided to embark on a peaceful approach by meeting with the governors.”
Attempts to speak with the officials of the Ondo State government to confirm the meeting failed as no official was prepared to give details about the meeting.
The Commissioner for Information and Orientation in the state, Mr Donald Ojogo, who did not confirm or deny the development said meetings are not unusual.
He said: “Well, meetings of that nature, if true, are not unusual. We are all in it together.
“No ethnic group or a particular trade is the target of the government order. So it will be a welcome development if the meeting is holding. There is nothing too unusual about it.”