I read the piece by Adebiyi Adebayo, and my response will examine his claims that Governor Seyi Makinde ‘delved into unnecessary politics, rather than showing his capacity to offer practicable solutions to the security challenges in the state.’
Let me start by addressing the ongoing narrative that presents the problems in the Oke-Ogun and Ibarapa zones as new security challenges that arose under Governor Seyi Makinde’s administration. The herdsmen and farmers’ tensions have been going on for decades in Oyo State. Several reports have put the herdsmen as the main aggressors with the farmers having to defend their lives and livelihood from attacks.
So what has Governor Seyi Makinde done about the issue since he became governor? Those who are really paying attention to what is going on in Oyo State know that this administration has made sure progress.
It is a fact that over the years, the police and army have failed to provide the required security to protect lives and properties in these areas as it concerns attacks by herdsmen. In fact, this herdsmen/farmers issue is one of the major reasons the Western Nigeria Security Network (Amotekun), an initiative spearheaded by Makinde, was inaugurated in the southwest zone, in the first place. It is noteworthy that the first meeting between southwest governors that birthed Amotekun was held in Ibadan in July 2019, a month after Makinde assumed office. It is also on record that the creation of Amotekun was fiercely opposed by the federal security forces and the federal government.
Furthermore, the Oyo State government passed a law against open grazing in 2019. However, it is public knowledge that Amotekun only became operational in the state in November 2020. It is also common knowledge that the Oyo Amotekun is the most active in the southwest zone and has been conducting raids to flush out criminal elements including bandits and kidnappers from the forests in Oke-Ogun and Ibarapa zones.
So, contrary to Adebiyi Adebayo’s claim, the government has been providing practical, sustainable, and legally backed solutions to the age-long problem, especially in the face of the outright failure to act of the police and army (which are under the control of the federal government). To think that this age-long problem would be resolved within three months of Amotekun’s operations is naive, at best.
Now, let’s turn to Adebiyi Adebayo’s presentation of Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho’s ultimatum issued to Fulanis to leave Oyo State within seven days as a heroic act by ‘a political bully boy turned Yoruba nation activist.’ Adebayo frames Sunday Igboho’s ultimatum as self-help by citizens in the face of the failure of the government to act. He, therefore, states that Sunday Igboho’s actions should not be condemned as a criminal act by the government and other right-thinking members of society.
Nowhere in his piece does Adebiyi Adebayo outline how Sunday Igboho’s illegal ultimatum can resolve this security issue without resulting in anarchy in Oyo State. If Fulani settlers in the state ignore the ultimatum, what is Sunday Igboho’s plan to effect the illegal order? Adebayo failed to show where Sunday Igboho outlined how he intends to protect the people against possible reprisal attacks from Fulanis in the event that the illegal order is carried out. Neither did Adebayo show any outlined plan by Sunday Igboho on how Oyo State can escape militarisation of the state by the federal government to prevent the order from being carried out or to reverse it. Does Sunday Igboho have the required firepower to protect residents of the state if there is a crisis arising from his illegal eviction notice? If yes, why isn’t this firepower being used to protect the farmers and residents of Ibarapa and Oke-Ogun zones already?
It seems Adebiyi Adebayo is unaware that dangerous rhetoric doesn’t solve security issues. Sunday Igboho has already shown that should things descend into anarchy, he will not accept responsibility. Hours after he held the rally in Igangan on Friday, the 22nd of January, 2021, the Seriki Fulani of the community’s house and cars were burnt by members of the community who were buoyed by Sunday Igboho’s rhetoric. When contacted about the incident by media houses, Igboho denied responsibility for the criminal act and blamed members of the community as the perpetrators.
Is this the person Adebiyi Adebayo is hailing as a hero? It is shameful that educated Nigerians continue seeking messiahs to come to their rescue even when time and time again, history has proven that these messiahs do not provide sustainable solutions to longstanding governance issues.
Reducing Governor Makinde’s opposition to Sunday Igboho’s illegal ultimatum to the fact that the latter is connected to Senator Rashidi Ladoja and from the same community as the Deputy Governor Rauf Olaniyan is lazy. Makinde is responsible for the safety and security of all residents of Oyo State. His statewide broadcast made it very clear that the government would not condone illegal actions from non-state actors capable of causing the state to descend into anarchy and rightly so. It was not about taking sides against Oyo State indigenes.
The people of Ibarapa and Oke-Ogun zones need solutions that do not put them further in harm’s way. This is what Sunday Igboho’s actions if left unchecked are capable of causing. In the meantime, Governor Seyi Makinde has outlined further measures to be taken by the state government to tackle the issue including deploying more Amotekun corps members to those zones, exploring the dialogue between the government and residents of the affected communities, collaborating with federal agencies, enforcing existing laws to maintain law and order and compensating the families of farmers who were killed and farmers who have lost their livelihoods to attacks by herdsmen.
These practical steps, if implemented, and not dangerous rhetoric by non-state actors like Sunday Igboho, will provide lasting solutions to the age-long problem.
Abayomi writes from Ibadan.
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