President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday accused politicians of using the various clashes between herdsmen and farmers across the country to blackmail him.
He, however, promised that the federal government was putting in place measures that would bring a lasting solution to the clashes.
The president made this comment yesterday at the All Progressives Congress grand rally held in Ado Ekiti ahead of Saturday's gubernatorial election in Ekiti State. He said, "On the herders/farmers' clashes, many people have been blackmailing me about it. But I can tell you that measures are being taken to ensure lasting solution."
The president also expressed delight to be in the midst of Ekiti people. "Ekiti people are dear to me. My interaction with Ekiti State dates back to decades ago and I have always known them to be people of discipline and integrity," he said. President Buhari, who described Ekiti people as honourable and intelligent, urged them to embrace the change agenda of APC.
He said the APC-led federal government under his leadership had executed many projects in the state to generate employment and put food on the table of the residents of the state.
He declared that the federal government had initiated and almost completed 13 projects in Ekiti State, valued at about N766 billion, including the Ikere-Ekiti road, the Ifaki-Ikole-Omuo road, the Ifaki-Ido road and the rehabilitation of the Ifaki-Otun Ekiti road, adding that the contract for a federal secretariat in Ekiti State had been awarded to accommodate federal workers in the state.
He said, "Several other roads, including Ado-Ifaki, Efon Alaaye-Erinmo-Iwaraja were rehabilitated. The federal secretariat complex, national housing programmes of the federal government are ongoing. These have provided gainful employment for the people of the state.
"Our social intervention schemes, like N-Power, the school feeding programmes and micro credit are also in place; this we do without putting into consideration the political affiliation of the state." President Buhari restated the commitment of his administration to the security of lives and property of all Nigerians. While urging Ekiti people to vote for APC and its governorship candidate, Dr Kayode Fayemi in next Saturday's election, the president said with him (Fayemi), "a meaningful development is guaranteed." Buhari continued: "Despite that the government in Ekiti and the federal government belong to different parties, the APC administration has ensured that Ekiti got its fair share of allocation from the federation account. Don't allow yourselves to be bought over by stomach infrastructure.
"Your future and the future of the generation yet unborn is in your hand; you must vote aright and not get carried away by the stomach infrastructure they are offering you. Don't waste your votes on Saturday, vote for Fayemi." The grand rally, which was the first major national assignment undertaken by the APC new national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, was witnessed by the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Chief Bisi Akande, 11 APC governors, among who were the governors of Zamfara, Adamawa, Niger, Kogi, Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Kebbi, Borno and Nasarawa states, Atiku Bagudu, Jibrilla Bindow, Yahaya Bello, Abiola Ajimobi, Ibikunle Amosun, Rauf Aregbesola, Rotimi Akeredolu, Atiku Bagudu, Kashim Shettima and Tanko Al-Makura respectively. The governors of Bauchi and Edo states were represented by their deputies, Audu Sule Katagum and Phillips Shuaibu, respectively. Ministers in attendance include those of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige; Transport, Rotimi Amaechi; Mining and Steel Development, Bawa Bwari; Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu; Interior, Abdulrahaman Danbazzau; Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, and Communications, Adebayo Shittu.
Members of the National Working Committee of the APC and other party stalwarts were also present at the rally. In his welcome address, the director-general of the Fayemi Campaign Organisation, Hon Opeyemi Bamidele, said that he felt pained that Ekiti is going through the pain of hunger and want in the midst of plenty He appealed to all Ekiti people to "trust his sense of judgement and accept his recommendation of Fayemi as the better option for the governorship of Ekiti and vote for him massively on July 14. Dr Fayemi of 2018 has a greater understanding of what it takes to take Ekiti State to greater heights."
Earlier in his address, Oshiomhole who urged the mammoth crowd to vote for Fayemi said the APC was out to deepen and sustain the change, which the party represents in Ekiti State.
He said, "Fayemi has come to bring finesse to governance. He was cheated out in 2014 despite getting the vote of Ekiti people. He is following the footsteps of PMB who believes that democracy is for those who can endure and turn things around.
"I am aware civil servants, local government workers, pensioners have not been paid for almost one year despite the over N20 billion Governor Fayose received from the federal government as bailout fund. He refused to pay and the workers have been pauperised. "We are here to bring a message of hope to the people. Fayemi will make a difference by paying the owed salaries and entitlement when elected." The APC candidate, Fayemi, told the people that the APC in the state was more united than ever before, saying that people should expect more developmental projects than before when elected into office.
He said, "All of us in APC are united and determined to send the PDP away. The election will be free, fair, credible, transparent, authentic, genuine and acceptable. "I am running on a track record. There is no community, hamlet in Ekiti that we did not touch in terms of developmental projects during my first tenure. Nothing of such is happening in this present government. "President Buhari did not sack me. I told him that my people really need me now. I am here to reclaim our land and restore our values." It's Unfair To Link President To Killings - Gowon
Meanwhile, former head of state, Yakubu Gowon, has said that those pointing fingers of blame at President Muhammadu Buhari for the incessant killings in the conflict between farmers and herders in some parts of Nigeria are unfair to him.
Gowon, who was Nigeria's military ruler between 1966 and 1974, said he believed the president has no hand in the killings. "The Buhari I know will not be involved in such things. Certainly, no leader will encourage his people to be killed," he said. The former military ruler spoke yesterday at the Plateau State Government House when he paid a condolence visit to Governor Simon Lalong over the resurgence of violence in the state. LEADERSHIP recalls that at least 200 persons were said to have been killed in violence across three local government areas in the state.
Gowon condemned social media reports linking the president to killings in Nigeria, describing the reports as unfortunate.
According to a statement by the state commissioner for Information and communications, Yakubu Dati, Gowon decried the past practice of releasing arrested suspects without trial.
"People arrested should be investigated and prosecuted in Jos where the crime was committed," the former leader said. Thanking him for the visit, Lalong told him that the state government had reviewed the state laws in order to prosecute perpetrators of killings, saying the bills would soon be signed into law. "We have reviewed adequate laws to prosecute offenders in Jos," he said.