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‘Access to education, reduced poverty will end herdsmen’s attacks, banditry’

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[FILES] Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu. Photo/Twitter/GOVONDO

The worsening security situation in the Southwest occasioned by the recent surge in Fulani herdsmen attacks was the crux of discourse when Old Students of St. Catherine Girls Grammar School, Owo, Ondo State, gathered for a re-union recently. And some of the solutions proffered as capable of tackling the menace from its root were instructive – increased access to education and a significant reduction in the high poverty level in the northern region.

The National President, Ondo State Eminent Persons Group (OSEPG), Banji Alabi, who was guest speaker at the event, threw the weight of OSEPG behind the recent decision of governors in the Southwest to end banditry and flush out masterminds of the menace. He urged various groups in the region to support the governors and traditional rulers in their resolve to end the reign of terror and make the region safe for all. But he also challenged the governors to do more in the fight to end Fulani herdsmen’s attack and banditry by reducing significantly the high poverty level in the area. He also stressed the need to embark on compulsory and massive education of the rural populace.

Painting the grim implications of extreme poverty, Alabi said, “The consequences of extreme poverty in Northern Nigeria have turned traveling on our roads in the Southwest to a big nightmare. Our very freedom, our ways of life are now under attack in frequent deadly armed robbery and kidnap attacks by people escaping from the poverty in the north. These people, now known as Fulani herdsmen, are killing and maiming all over Nigeria.

“It is literally a matter of life and death for this deprived people, and now the whole country must act. We cannot leave these people behind. And so today, we commit ourselves to new Sustainable Development Goals, including our goal of ending extreme poverty in Northern Nigeria and in Nigeria as a whole.”

Alabi also tasked the Federal Government to investigate sources of the herders’ sophisticated weapons with a view to exposing those he believed are the wealthy and highly influential Nigerians giving covert support to the marauders.

On another hand, inspired by the immense contributions of the Old Students of St. Catherine to the development of the college and the success story of members who had distinguished themselves in various fields, Alabi, who is the Chairman, Governing Council, Rufus Giwa Polytechnic (RUGIPO), Owo, made an ‘altar call’ for involvement in active politics.

He challenged the old students and other alumni associations across the country to go beyond their old schools and take active interest in politics at all levels. According to him, by doing so, they would impact governance with their experience, and avail government with their national and foreign business contacts as well as investment opportunities built over the years. He added that doing this would make the nation feel the impact of alumni associations more while also benefitting directly from their wealth of experience and resources, which he opined were capable of transforming millions of lives when properly injected into the national economy in form of investments.

Meanwhile, in his governance journey just gone beyond midpoint, with Governor Rotimi Akeredolu only in his third of a four-year tenure as the helmsman in Ondo State, it is interesting to note that the political sphere in the ‘Sunshine State’ is already being enlivened, albeit prematurely, with re-election blues.

‘Re-elect him… he’s done way better than his predecessors.’ ‘No, he’s not done enough’ were two phrases that summarised proceedings in formal and informal discussions across the state as various stakeholders and groups take stock. The review, being done by residents and indigenes alike, is of course to determine the suitability of Arakunrin Akeredolu for a return to or ejection from office. The discourse at the re-union also touched on the debate with OSEPG giving Aketi a pass mark and declaring him worthy of a return to Alagbaka Government House.

Describing as “vastly developmental and life-enhancing,” the projects embarked on thus far by Governor Akeredolu in the state, OSEPG President, prompted Alabi to give a charge to the people: “Be ye good and magnanimous beneficiaries of the good works of Akeredolu by giving him a second term that he may do more and consolidate on those already done.”

Alabi urged members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state to appreciate and reciprocate the achievements of the governor who he described as a good and worthy ambassador of the party.

According to him, “Akeredolu’s achievements in the health, education and road transportation sectors are unparalleled. We should rally round and offer him opportunity for a second term because he deserves it.”

Alabi also noted that the governor has delivered more than 45 kilometres of roads in Ondo State across the three senatorial districts, adding, “Akeredolu did not discriminate between federal and state roads. Some of his other achievements include prompt payment of salaries, rehabilitation and construction of new roads across the state, construction of 100 bed-space hospital at Ifon, renovation of about 500 public primary schools and provision of modern toilets in each of the primary schools across the state, and construction of a multi-billion naira fly-over bridge at Ore, among many others.”

He commended the governor for breaking away from the tradition where successor governors usually abandoned projects started by their predecessors, no matter how essential they were to the people.

“One area where Akeredolu deserves applause is the fact that all projects inherited from his predecessor are now either completed or at various advanced completion stages,” Alabi stated. “This is also in addition to new projects he initiated, which are either completed or ongoing.”

Alabi also lauded the contributions of the governor’s wife, Betty Akeredolu to the achievements of her husband, especially her anti-breast cancer project, which he said had brought relief to hundreds of families across the state.


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