A former Minister of Information, Edwin Clark, has described as provocative the statement credited to President Muhammadu Buhari on the ban on open grazing by the Southern Governors’ Forum.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, had in a statement on Monday said the governors’ resolution at their May 11 meeting in Asaba, Delta State, was illegal.
He added that the governors’ ban on open grazing offered no solution to the frequent crisis between farmers and herdsmen in the country.
However, in a chat with journalists at a forum marking his 94th birthday on Tuesday in Abuja, Clark said the government did not criticize the northern governors when they passed a similar resolution.
He urged the President to withdraw the statement and make peace with Nigerians.
The elder statesman said: “Well, I said today is a special day for me. I didn’t want to comment on such issues that will make me speak in a provocative way.
“However, I will advise Mr. President, as I said this morning, on Arise, he is the President of Nigeria, is not the President of the North. We all voted for him and under the Constitution Section two, I think, he has a duty to protect all Nigerians and at the same time, to provide for their welfare.
“But a situation now where we have herdsmen carrying AK 47, first of all, he said they were not Nigerians, that they were coming from Tripoli after Gaddafi’s fall. He allowed them to come in killing our people, they are in the south, they are everywhere, they are even killing our people including people in the north. I do not understand.
“I remember in those days, I think in 2002, when he led a delegation to Ibadan to meet the governor of Western Nigeria at that time, and told him that the Westerners killed about 65 Fulanis whereas only about two of them were really killed. And so, he has been promoting the affairs of cattle herdsmen over the years and he said he’s a farmer, he has a cattle ranch.
“But being the President of Nigeria, it is very unfair and provocative for him to say that what the 17 Southern governors declared was illegal or does not carry the weight of law.”