Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), has appealed to all flitchers in the State to suspend all forms of flitching activities for two weeks.
He made the appeal, during a meeting with all members of Flitchers Association in Ondo State held at the Cocoa Conference Hall of the Governor's office in Akure yesterday.
He said the directive became necessary in order to proffer solutions to the various suggestions brought up during the meeting to regulate flitching activities in Ondo State.
"I want to beg you all and your members to give us two weeks. You have made several suggestions and from tomorrow, we will constitute a five man committee and have guidelines.
"Decisions will be taken and communicated to you all. We are prepared to allow you in this free area to have whatever planks and timber you may want in this area.
"I also know that you are aware that timber in the reserved area belongs to government," he said.
Akeredolu further enjoined the association to work with the present administration to improve the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and legitimise all forms of flitching in Ondo State.
"No one will tell you not to do legitimate business, but you cannot carry out that business illegitimately, we will not allow it.
"We know what is happening everyday. There are forest laws guiding all this, there are areas where this business can be done, it's not just anywhere.
I am pleading with you, let us find ways to be more patriotic, let's work together so that we can all move forward together.
"We want to work with you and put in place ways that the revenue realised will be paid into government cofers instead of the wrong hands," he said.
Responding, one of the flitchers, Dr. Vincent Omotayo commended the Governor for the meeting which he described as first of its kind in the history of the association.
He blamed previous administrations for not acceding to the request of the association for a meeting, which is aimed at working together with government for the betterment of both parties.
"The previous administration was only bent on banning flitching, but I can assure you Sir, that the business flourishes more when it is banned.
"It is when you ban flitching activities that you create rooms for unscrupulous individuals to enrich themselves and that is where the issue of funds going into private pockets arise", he said.
He appealed to the Governor, to provide a dedicated account strictly for flitching, promising that within few months, the State would have generated much revenue adding that the financial status of the state would tremendously be alleviated.
On the issue of proposals, he noted that there are some that are meant to enrich the private pockets of individuals which has always been the case.
"Since 1993 that the association came on board, we have written numerous proposals to past administration, but none was approved.
"But since the inception of this present administration, we have written only three realistic proposals that are not meant to deceive the government, nor enrich private pockets which are already bearing good fruits", he stated.
Omotayo however, appealed to the Governor, to initiate an enabling law that would empower them to assist the government to increase its revenue base.
"Right now, we would love to assist the government, but we are handicapped. If we have an enabling environment to operate and backed up by law, our business will serve as a revenue generation for the government and we would stop paying money meant for our State into other state government's purse", he assured.
Omotayo who noted that government alone can not monitor its forest reserves, urged the state government collaborate with them for effective monitoring and to ensure that flitching activities are not carried out in government reserves.