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Ondo 2020: APC, PDP turn Amotekun, herders invasion to campaign issues


Less than 11 months to the governorship election in Ondo State, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are not leaving anything to chance.

The state PDP Publicity Secretary, Mr. Zadock Akintoye, often criticised the ruling APC for lacklustre performance and for policies that have further impoverished the people.

He said: “For us as a political party, we are not expecting this APC government to perform better than it has done in the last two and a half years, as the key indices for human development have not been tackled. In governance, the administration of Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has not also shown itself to be transparent and accountable to the people.”

However, like never before, opposition parties have shown uncommon support for the Southwest governors in their bid to tackle security challenges, by establishing a Western Security Network code-named:
Operation Amotekun.

They have declared unflinching solidarity for Operation Amotekun, despite the declaration by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, that the initiative is illegal.

The immediate past Speaker of Ondo State Assembly, Jumoke Akindele described the position of the AG as immoral, saying President Muhammadu Buhari-led government is treating some parts of the country as more important than others.

Akindele, alongside other major opposition party leaders, expressed dismay over the opposition against the security outfit established by the Southwest governors to rid the region of crime.

She said the antagonism from parts of the country is to protect the herders and Fulani cattle rearers, who have often been accused of criminal activities, especially with their hosts, the farmers.

She said: “I have been able to identify some Northern elements who are against it. I have also been able to garner that the FG is not exactly a fan.

I have no problem with the opposition from the Miyetti Allah and those other elements who call themselves the Northern Youths.

“One can see how they can feel unreasonably threatened by such an initiative. Their brothers in herding and banditry will no longer have the Southwest for their nefarious activities. What I cannot wrap my head round is the FG’s position.”

Akindele, who is the first female Speaker and a PDP chieftain, had lauded the Southwest governors for the Amotekun initiative to rid the region of crime, despite their political differences.

“I commend the trio of Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Gov. Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Gov. Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti). Oduduwa a gbe yin o! Eleda gbogbo omo Yoruba a ti yin leyin. Amin. Aare Gani Adams, a seese o. Ase!, she said.

The former Speaker, who is also a lawyer, added: “I can understand where the Federal Government is coming from. It looks to me that they are trying to say that some areas of the country are more entitled than the other. It is as insincere as it is hypocritical. Why has it been okay to have the Hisbah Police Corps who are the Sharia enforcers in some states in the North? Why have those been condoned?

“Why is it necessary to have a police corps to enforce religion, and it is not alright to have a corps to secure life and property in the face of the proven failure of our security agencies, particularly the Nigeria Police?

“Why would a government that has failed in every facet of security provision to a people begrudge them the chance to provide security for themselves?”

Nonetheless, Akindele raised suspicion regarding some governors and elderly statesmen in the Southwest who are also opposed to the security outfit.

“I am not unaware of the tactical absence of the T-Trio from the launching of the Amotekun Security Network. I wonder why. They claim that it is on account of poor weather. Hilarious. Must they fly from Lagos? Do Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State and Gov. Oyetayo of Osun have private airstrips in Abeokuta and Oshogbo? I am not aware of a public one in either of those places.

“Let it be known that as many as would not protect the Yoruba interest will not have a chance to be our leader. We can’t forget in a hurry the cavalier ‘where are the cows’ question in Akure, when one of ours was cut down in cold blood by those of the ones you seek to please. We shall

Akintoye accused Akeredolu of bringing over 200 herdsmen from the North to Ajowa Akoko, declaring it was a subtle move by the present administration towards settling them in the state.

He said: “Recently, there were allegations that this government is planning to bring in Fulani herdsmen to settle in different parts of Ondo State. These allegations have not been denied or debunked by the government.”

Meanwhile, there was tension on New Year’s Eve, as the suspected Fulani herdsmen arrived Ajowa Akoko, an agrarian community in Akoko North West Local Government Area of the state in two big trailers.

It was gathered that the incident almost led to the breakdown of law and order in the area, if not for the timely intervention of the elders, who prevented the youths from taking laws into their hands.

The youths, who were suspicious of the ‘visitors’, had made frantic efforts to stop the strangers from disembarking from the large trucks that conveyed them to the community.

Sources in the community disclosed that the suspected herdsmen confessed that some indigenes took money from them to settle in the community.

It would be recalled that about two years ago, similar thing happened at Akunu and Auga in Akoko North-East Local Government Area of Ondo State, which led to an emergency meeting of Akoko Obas, held at Isua.

The youths of Ajowa Ajijo protested that the trailer and truck loaded with the suspected herdsmen would not settle in their midst without any official notice or introduction to the community leadership.

The chairman of Ajowa Council of Obas, the Oloso of Oso-Ajowa, Oba Clement Omoola Jimoh, protested that the sudden arrival of over 200 herdsmen in the community was an embarrassment to them.

Oba Jimoh lamented that their action could precipitate a crisis and truncate the peaceful atmosphere hitherto enjoyed by the people of the area, especially during the Yuletide.

He, however, explained that the monarchs, elders, security agents and other stakeholders in the area prevailed on the youths not to take laws into their hands.

Similarly, the Oluro of Uro-Ajowa, Oba Timothy Ipinmoroti, said Ajowa-Akoko remains one of the most peaceful and hospitable communities in Yoruba land, raising an alarm over the influx of strangers.

Oba Ipinmoroti, who decried the audacity of the visitors to inhabit their community without approval, noted that the host communities should not rest on their oars and must be vigilant.

On his part, the Chairman of Ajowa Akoko community, Bakare Ajayi, explained that Ajowa is a gateway town to other parts of Akoko communities and other neighbouring states.

He said: “Besides, the town has been battling with few herdsmen in their farms, who usually used their cows to destroy their crops and the security challenges of kidnapping in the axis. They (Ajowa people) need to be security conscious, as they saw in their luggage such dangerous weapons as axes, sharp cutlasses and swords.”

Hitting at Akeredolu’s government, Akintoye said; “the issues against this government are just too many, and for us as a party, we are hoping the 2020 governorship election will come quickly so that we can begin to give citizens of Ondo State a better government.

“I don’t expect that this government would do better than it has done. In all key indices, you will see that this government has not performed as expected. So, for us as PDP, we don’t have any optimism that the Governor Akeredolu-led administration will be of any great benefit to the citizens of Ondo State.”

The opposition party urged people of the state to vote out the APC government, assuring that PDP would afford them the opportunity to enjoy people-oriented governance once again.

Responding to the allegations, however, the Commissioner of Information and Orientation, Mr. Donald Ojogo, dismissed the opposition’s claims, saying it was an attempt by PDP to discredit their administration.

Ojogo also refuted allegations that the government was not proactive and responsive to the citizens’ yearnings and well-being, listing efforts made by Governor Akeredolu, who doubles as the Chairman of Southwest Governors’ Forum.

He said: “Understandably, PDP’s ill-motivated reasoning and perversion have a clear motive: to create a situation of distrust between the people and the government and to a large extent, paint the state governor in a bad light. This is a failed mission.

“For the records, the influx of strangers to Ajowa Akoko was, indeed, reported to the government after the community chased the intruders away. From preliminary reports at the government’s disposal, these people were not Fulani of Nigerian descent but were foreigners.

“It should also be noted that, as at the time they were prevented from settling at Ajowa and subsequently chased to the boundary between Ondo and Kogi States, there were no cattle with them.

“No reasonable PDP member will ever praise Akeredolu’s giant strides to improve the lots of the state. For your information, an indigene of Ajowa Akoko, alleged to have been responsible for the unathourised movement of these foreigners to the town, has been placed under security watch.

“Mr. Governor has consequently ordered his immediate arrest and interrogation without further delay. Also, the suspected collaborator of Araba, a Fulani butcher resident in Ajowa, is said to have been chased out of the town by restive youths.”

Proving PDP wrong on proactive measures taken by the state government to protect citizens and their property, he added: “In another development, shanties built by suspected Fulani in an industrial layout in Akure without authorisation have been evacuated by security agencies on the orders of the State Government.

“It is pertinent to state without prejudice to our people’s hospitality that, unathourised mass movement or influx into Ondo State will not be encouraged by Government. Similarly, potential collaboration in this regard will not be tolerated.

“All the same, the Ondo State Government frowns strongly at any form of self-help capable of jeopardising cordial relationship among Nigerians, irrespective of religion and ethnicity.

“The Ondo State government wishes to state unequivocally that the regional security outfit, Amotekun, will undoubtedly, create an atmosphere that will engender peaceful coexistence in the Southwest.”

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