In South West, discordant tunes trail boycott of security parley
We Gained Our Respect, Dignity – Odumakin
Some leaders in the South West have expressed displeasure with what they described as the “cold feet” of the Presidency and security agencies in curbing alleged “criminal activities” of killer herdsmen who kill, maim and kidnap people with impunity in the region.
They said that rather than be invited to a meeting to sit and plead with them to stop the carnage, the security agencies ought to arrest and prosecute some identified members of the Miyetti Allah who have allegedly been masterminding the heinous crimes.
A Yoruba leader, who pleaded anonymity, said the Yoruba elders would have been comfortable to dialogue with the Arewa group that would have taken responsibility for the actions of the Miyetti Allah, adding that whoever invited the cattle breeders did a great disservice to Gen. Abubakar.
Spokesman for Afenifere, Comrade Yinka Odumakin said the group lost nothing through the boycott.
He said: “We lost nothing. We gained our respect, dignity and the values we hold dear in not allowing them to drag us to Miyetti Allah level.”
Odumakin said though they had earlier accepted in good faith to attend the meeting in deference to Gen. Abdusalami, but later declined in greater deference to the cherished values of respect for human life and orderliness in human affairs.
On his part, a former presidential candidate, Dr. Olapade Agoro dismissed the peace meeting as a gathering of noisemakers, asking what positive or tangible results such meetings held in the past brought the nation.
Agoro also faulted the invitation of the Miyetti Allah group to such meeting, stressing that it was “a bad arrangement.”
However, a Yoruba leader, Dr. Kunle Olajide, shared a different view of the boycott. While agreeing that the invitation extended to Myetti Allah to be part of the meeting was a grave error of judgment, saying that the group was the enfant terrible in the security crisis that had enveloped the country, he said it was painful that we (the Yoruba) missed exchanging views and rubbing minds with some respected elders from the North, especially General Abubakar for whom we have tremendous respect.
Also, a former Primate of the Anglican Church, Peter Akinola told The Guardian that he would also have boycotted the parley if he had been invited because “there is no sincerity in the intent.”
He said, “We all know where the problem is, those causing the problem have hidden agenda, which is to islamise the country. Those killing are not herdsmen; they are not bandits, armed robbers or insurgents but Jihadists whose intention is to islamise Nigeria. That is their goal.”
For Senator Adegbenga Kaka, who represented Ogun East Senatorial District at the Red Chamber between 2007 and 2011, the regions that boycotted the meeting won’t loose anything.
He said, “Nobody should see this invitation and decline it from the perspective of carrot and stick but it should be viewed for the mutual benefit from all and sundry. But we must admit that whatever decision arrived at, at the end of the meeting, would
affect the entire country.
“The leaders that boycotted the parley have their own reasons. There are those who want peace and there are those who don’t want peace but not graveyard peace.”
But the Afenifere Ilosiwaju Yoruba, the faction of the Yoruba socio cultural group, led by Pa Ayo Fasanmi, speaking through its Publicity Secretary, Chief Biodun Akin Fasae, said the group did not only endorse the parley, it also praised the former Head of State for his initiative.
He distanced his group from the boycott, stressing that the idea would be beneficial to every ethnic group and Nigerians as a whole. He said that security issues must not be ethnicised or politicised.
According to Fasae, the solution to insecurity in the country must be a collective effort. “That is why we appreciate the efforts of the former Head of State, Abdusalami Abubakar. If leaders from all zones can come out like that to proffer solution, gradually the problem will be solved. If anybody feels that it is only President Muhammadu Buhari that can solve this problem, the person is daydreaming.
“We support the efforts of Southwest Governors and the traditional rulers who had visited the President. We, in the Afenifere Ilosiwaju Yoruba, have presented our position to him. We support the effort of Abdusalami.
“So, they will always not want anything to do with Buhari. They feel the only way to solve the problem is through dismemberment of Nigeria in the guise of restructuring. We don’t believe in that. Now, they have people like them who are anti-Buhari in the MiddleBelt, South East and South-South. There are people who are Pro-Buhari in those places. These are the people who have been making noise in the
media. They believe that insecurity should be ethnicised. How can you ethnicise insecurity? he asked.
Fasae explained that the primary concern of the group was basically how to solve the problem of insecurity. He stressed that whatever step the government and leaders of region would take that to bring peace would be supported, adding that group believed in the oneness of the country.
A security scholar at the University of Ibadan, Prof. Olawale Albert also echoed Fasae’s position. For him, the participation of the stakeholders at the meeting would have enriched the discussions and make the resolutions more robust.