At Awo’s memorial: Rise, defend Yoruba nation from kidnapping, terrorism ― Anglican Bishop, Afenifere tell Gani Adams
With growing insecurity in the country evidenced by banditry and kidnappings from the North to the South, some religious and socio-cultural leaders, on Thursday, said it had become imperative for leaders of traditional institutions, ethnic groups, communities to begin to evolve ways to defend their people and territories from incursions.
Gathered for the 32nd Memorial Anniversary and Patronal day of former premier of the defunct Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, they hinged their call on Nigerians to be prepped to personally defend themselves on the continued failure of the federal government to address insecurity headlong, such that herdsmen, kidnappers, terrorists, marauders have become emboldened commanders of the nation’s affairs.
In particular, Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Lagos (Anglican Communion), Most Reverend Olusina Fape; who delivered the sermon at Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Anglican Church, Ikenne-Remo, Ogun state, called on the Aare Onakakanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams not to belittle recent incidences of kidnappings and other crimes in the South West but get ready a plan of action to tackle the threats.
Retorting Gani Adams’ role as defender of the Yoruba race, Fape urged Adams to have the foresight to face the looming danger and prepare to exterminate any obstacle to the peaceful coexistence of the race.
He warned that should Yoruba elders and leaders to rise and come together to defend the region from threatening ruin due to pecuniary gains, they would face divine judgment.
Especially, Fape described as insulting those equating Afenifere, Ndigbo or other ethnic groups with the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association.
“Obafemi Awolowo died 32 years ago and the echoes of his words are still hunting the nation. Awolowo foresaw the insecurity challenge we are facing today 33 years ago and today we are grappling with insecurity.
“It seems as if a section of this country thinks they have a monopoly of force. Nobody is preaching violence; nobody is preaching force. But, if there is a section of this country operating as if nobody can arrest them or can do anything to curtail their activities, we must know that every region of this particular country has a militant group.
“How can anybody under the heavens be likening Afenifere or Ndigbo or any other ethnic group to Miyetti Allah? It is absolutely insulting.
“That is why we are saying that we equally have a strong group in the Yoruba nation that can combat any kind of terrorism that may be arising from any part of this country and that is why Iba Gani Adams is appointed as Aare Onakakanfo of Yoruba land. So, he has to be thinking of what he and his men will do, though we more on God. However, there is a place for the application of common sense.
“As a clergyman, I didn’t want to look elsewhere and said that the Lord is my shepherd. Then practically, I said that it is time for the Aare Onakakanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams to be prepared.
“We must have the foresight to face the looming danger. We must have a plan of action to tackle the threat, not just talking about it. We must be prepared to move away from any obstacle to our peaceful coexistence.
“Yoruba elders must rise to ensure that the region is not brought to ruin. It is high time we started coming together and rise up. We thought it was only in the North, but now it is here in the South,” Fape said.
Also bemoaning huge unrest in the nation, General Overseer of the Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, in his remarks after the service, said Nigerians as individuals and groups had a right to constitute their own government going by the failure of the government to provide security.
He linked the increasing number of people taking to kidnapping, terrorism to the failure of the government to provide jobs for the youths as well as wanton looting of the nation’s treasury.
“It appears right now there are new commanders of the federal republic. There are kidnappers, terrorists, marauders. And the wickedness going on in our country began with looters who looted our treasury so that our youth do not have anything to live on or jobs to do.
“So, we are now surrounded by so much unrest that every man may have to find a way to defend himself. The purpose of government is the welfare and security of the people and if that is not being done, then you can as well constitute your own personal government.”
In his own submission, Afenifere chieftain, Pa Ayo Adebanjo said the nation will continue to face security challenges as long as government continued to turn a deaf ear to the need for state police.
He argued that the federal government was not unaware of those invading the South West but it only shied away from attacking the issue headlong for its own partial reasons.
“The sum total on the issue of security comes to what the government is denying. Until you have state police, you can’t take care of yourself. The governor is only head of security by name, he does not have the instrument to give security.
“Those who are supposed to be in charge of security are those behind those who are disorganizing us and they have turned a deaf ear. How can you say you can’t take care of people who you know where they come from, and you negotiate with them?
“We know our enemy; we are only denying the truth. The truth is that the people who are invading us are the enemies of the society whom the government does not want to attack,” Adebanjo said.
Spokesperson of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, on his part, held that it was high time the Aare Onakakanfo and all traditional defence systems rose to defend the nation.
Describing the nation as a failed state, Odumakin said Nigerians must personally be ready to defend themselves.
“The country is largely insecure and the evil that we thought is in the North is now on our land. The Aare Ona Kakanfo and all our traditional defence systems must come up now that the Nigerian state has shown that they can no longer protect us.
“The OAU professor had to pay N5million to Fulani herdsmen on our own soil. We cannot allow this to continue. We must get ready and just like Danjuma once said the other day, we must be ready to defend ourselves. We are in a failed state at the moment and we must be ready to defend ourselves,” Odumakin said.
Speaking on behalf of the Awolowo family, Reverend (Mrs) Tola Oyediran, said the family was not unaware of pressure to defend Awolowo’s legacy but will continue to strive to sustain the former premier’s legacy.
Also present at the service was Chairman, African Newspapers of Nigeria (ANN) Plc, publishers of the Tribune titles, Dr (Mrs) Tokunbo Awolowo Dosumu.
Other personalities that graced the event included Professor of History, Banji Akintoye; Professor A.B.O.O. Oyediran; former governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun state; the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, represented by Oba Adedini Adebanjo; Onirolu of Irolu-Remo, Ogun state, Oba Sikiru Adeyiga; Alakene of Ikenne Remo, Oba Adeyinka Onakade.
The event also had in attendance, Managing Director/Editor-in-chief, Nigerian Tribune, Mr Edward Dickson; Consultant/Director, ANN Plc, Dr Segun Olatunji; Editor, Nigerian Tribune, Mr Debo Abdulai; Editor, Sunday Tribune, Mr Sina Oladeinde; Editor, Saturday Tribune, Dr Lasisi Olagunju; renowned poet, Odia Ofienum; and Founder, BolaImmaculate Group of Schools, Ibadan, Mrs Bola Doherty.