Governors in the Southwest states on Friday reacted to a statement credited to the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), asking persons of Fulani extraction resident in Southern parts to return to the north.
They described the claim as most unfortunate, divisive and retrogressive.
A statement personally signed by the Forum’s Chairman and Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, said: “With no intention to engage anyone, it is incumbent on us, as elected representatives of our people in the South West Region of the country, to denounce this divisive and retrogressive statement in the strongest terms possible.
“The Southwest Governors viewed the report with palpable trepidation and outrage, the sustained attempts to fan the ember of discord, seizing every opportunity offered by the current security challenge to undermine the unity and peaceful co-existence among Nigerians.”
Akeredolu added: “It is appalling, to assert the least, that the tragic incident, which claimed the life of Mrs. Funke Olakunrin, the daughter of Pa Fasoranti, the leader of Afenifere, would be used by certain persons to advance the cause of parochial and prebendal politics.
“We intend to get to the root of the sad occurrence as we await the findings of security agencies on the unfortunate incident.”
The chairman said the governors and the people of the South West are working, assiduously, at the current security challenges with a view to finding lasting solutions to curtail the nefarious activities of undesirable elements bent on wrecking our collective peace.
He said:” We are not unaware of the antics of certain elements, who hope to garner political mileage from the contrived crises in virtually all parts of the country.
“We are equally convinced that this confusion serves the narrow interests of some persons.
“The country has a rich history; she has had to encounter adversities in the course of her transition to nationhood.
“She has overcome them all. This distraction will also pass. We look up to the security agencies to take cohesive steps to curtail this major challenge of insecurity which engenders hopelessness.
“We can only enjoin all citizens, on our part, to be patient and continue to cooperate with them as they combat the festering crises.
“We on our part have taken great strides with the hope that great success will be achieved.
“We however note, with discomfiture, the unpatriotic acts of some Nigerians, who will stop at nothing in their bid to undermine the Federal Government.”
The forum reiterated the commitment of the Governors and the people of the South West to the nationhood project, as they continue to address the challenges, saying “we will promote, with renewed vigour, all activities which encourage amity among our people”.
The Southwest Governors called on all persons of Fulani extraction and indeed all Nigerians from other parts of the country, resident in the South West Region, to discountenance the unpatriotic outburst of the Northern Elders Forum and other self-serving organisations of opportunists.
The Forum welcomed all Nigerians, who have legitimate reasons to be in the region, stressing the Governments and the people of the South West would protect all persons regardless of their ethnic and/or religious backgrounds.
It emphasised that only criminals would find the region not hospitable.