The governor at a crossroads
The Governor of Oyo State, Mr. Seyi Makinde was caught between the devil and deep blue sea. He was trying to prevent an ethnic conflagration in his state and calm nerves. He was conscious that should there be an ethnic blow-out, he would carry the can. Well intentioned as he might have been, he mismanaged the situation. He dissociated himself from the angst of his people, panicked and rushed to Abuja and it would appear to extricate himself. He of course asked President Muhammadu Buhari for enhanced police strength in the state. I am for every effort to prevent ethnic hostilities. Such a scenario could be complicated. His concern was understandable and laudable. No one would fault that. It was the way he went about it after he woke up from his slumber that was ill-thought out. His pronouncement in Akure was unkind. No one can fault the argument that you do not solve insecurity challenges with criminality, nor will anyone advocate tackling one criminality with another criminality.
In the face of glaring failure of leadership and security agencies—people are killed, many are kidnapped and made to pay ransom; their women are mindlessly violated, self-defence becomes inevitable. We are talking about a people facing existential challenges. Their representatives in the organisation called, Lanlate Renaissance Group, catalogued all efforts to get the governor, the speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly and their representative in the Federal House of Representatives in Abuja to see their plight, to act to save them. All the efforts were unavailing. Their distress calls fell on deaf ears.
Both the timing of the governor’s address and his audience at Akure could not have been worst ill-chosen. The speech by the spokesman of the Miyetti Allah rendered in fluent Yoruba to prove his integration into the town in which he was born 47 years ago and the social circles was conciliatory and reassuring. The governor’s speech was what he should have taken to a meeting of the stakeholders, his people at Ibarapa and Oyo North (Oke-Ogun) bearing the brunt of atrocities in their land. You lock yourselves up in a large hall and argue it out, even fiercely among yourselves. No such meeting took place despite the most pressing and urgent necessity to have one. What brought matter to the boil was the killing of Dr. Fatai Aborode, who came from the University of Glasgow, Aberdeen to set up big farm. He had complained about the destruction of his farm by cattle driven into the extensive acreage employing many youths. Also on the list of prominent citizens killed was Mrs. Sherifat Adisa, owner of Subawah Petroleum. The case of a young lady who heeded the clarion call for the youths to go into farming is well known. Miss Modupe Oyetoso acquired 5,000 hectares of land in Lanlate to do farming after her graduation. She was kidnapped and kept in the bush for two days until her parents put together an unstated amount as ransom to her abductors. Her fiancé was shot dead in the encounter with their attackers.
Here is the headline in one of the reports: “We can’t solve insecurity challenges with criminality, Makinde declares” The report itself states in part: “Governor Seyi Makinde declared on Monday that his government would not try to solve the insecurity challenges in his state by backing those bent on taking laws into their own hands or carrying out jungle justice against perceived wrongdoers.”
If people do not defend themselves in the absence of help from the official quarters, they would be annihilated. The governor did not visit the troubled areas and families mourning their loved ones killed on their farms or kidnapped to reassure them before people decided to take their safety in their own hands. Would self-help have ever been necessary if the police had been up and doing and Makinde had shown sensitivity to the plight of his people? What were the Igangan people to do after they were pushed to the wall? It is unnatural that people would throw up their hands in resignation when their traducers pinned their backs against the wall and butchered them soullessly. The governor must have heard General Danjuma cry out when his people were being killed inTaraba.
It was not until matters got to a head that the governor thought it fit to send a delegation there to address the people with the police commissioner assuring the crowd there that the police would look into their complaints. The former Lagos super cop, retired police commissioner Fatai Owoseni, now security adviser to the governor, was on the entourage. The governor’s speech at Akure fell short. It exhibited neither empathy nor understanding for the harrowing experiences his own people had gone through. Makinde has been thought of capable of doing better all along. I believe he still can. He is a likeable fellow and he started well. His meeting with the stakeholders a few days is the way to mend fences. It was the right step to calm nerves.
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