By Ola Ajayi
IBADAN—AS governors from Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo and Ogun States and people from all walks of life came in droves to attend the security summit organized by the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria led by Mr. Seye Oyeleye, it was clear that fire was on the mountain.
The governors put all sectional and political interests aside to proffer solutions to the cries of their people from the zone which have reached a crescendo over the unprovoked attacks and kidnappings by marauding herdsmen.
With the governors attending the first security meeting in the zone, showed that they attached much importance to it.
Also, traditional rulers from Ekiti, Ondo and Osun States were there to give their contributions to the summit.
A call for unity
Before the official commencement of the meeting, which was held at the Professor Theophilus Ogunlesi Hall, University of Ibadan, solemn music from the late musician and custodian of Yoruba culture, Chief Hubert Ogunde rent the atmosphere calling on all people in the zone to have a rethink on disunity which had torn them apart.
The opportunities given to those whose names were not on the programme to air their views had to be constantly controlled by the MC saying the purpose of the summit was not to fan ember of ethnic and religious differences but to proffer solutions to the continued attacks and abduction of the people.
Prominent monarchs absent
As people poured out their minds, tongues were wagging at the summit why prominent Yoruba monarchs did not attend the meeting.
Aside this, prominent groups such as the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere and the Agbekoya Farmer’s Association were conspicuously absent at the summit.
The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi; Olubadan of Ibadanland, Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Jimoh Oyewumi and others were not at the meeting. The Ooni of Ife, Oba Eniitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi was not present either but he was represented by Aderemi Adedapo.
I was not invited—Olubadan
When Vanguard called one of the monarchs, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, he said he did not receive any letter inviting him to the summit. Speaking through his Director of Media, Mr. Adeola Oloko, he said: “the organizers (whether the state governors or DAWN) did not invite me and you don’t expect me to attend a meeting where I was not invited. I did not receive any letter”.
We were not invited—Agbekoya
The Chairman of Agbekoya in Oyo State, Mr. Ibrahim Sheu said he and his members were not invited to the summit.
He said it is worrisome that the issue is being handled with levity noting that the organisers should have invited those who could give them solutions to the problem.
Sheu said: “It appears that there is a curse on Oyo State by our forefathers in Agbekoya and until the curse is removed, things may not go the normal way. I asked other colleagues in the state, they said they did not get any invitation from the organizers. They should have involved those who know about it; they should know there is fire on the mountain and they should not sleep. It is not a matter they can handle with levity.”
“Some could go there and impersonate Agbekoya, but I tell you they are fake. It is an insult for strangers to come to our fatherland and unleash terror on us. If they invite or today or tomorrow, we shall be there for the sake of Yoruba race.”
Don’t pull wool on people’s faces
Firing the first salvo, a retired Assistant Inspector of Police, Chief Ade Ajakaye, who tried to correct perceived misconceptions that the blood-thirsty herdsmen terrorizing the zone are from neighbouring countries like Mali, Niger and Chad. According to him, the bandits are herdsmen from Nigeria and nobody should try to pull wool on people’s faces.
He said: “The problem Yoruba have is that we have refused to call a spade a spade. This meeting is a little bit late. It should have been summoned a long time ago. I call on governors from the zone to mobilise local hunters, Oodua Peoples Congress and Agbekoya to be on guard. Since there is an Islamic Police in Kano and Neighbourhood watch in Lagos, it would be advisable for the governors to give consideration to the local hunters and others.
Yoruba are not cowards— Vigilante Group of Nigeria
In his own contribution, Chief Jimoh Aliu, Deputy Commandant General, Vigilante Group of Nigeria, who delegated Akinwumi Gideon, said: “We are all aware of the recent nefarious activities of these black sheep among us. The kidnapping of innocent people going their daily businesses with the intention of collecting ransoms, the ritual killings in the community with the intention of making quick money, there is need to fight against and crush them.
“The history is there for the herdsmen that Yoruba are not cowards, they should remember the Fulani and Oyo Empire war”, he warned.
It’s a mere jamboree
Also faulting the selection of invitees to the summit, a leader of Agbekoya saying what was convened was not a security meeting but a mere jamboree.
He said: “This is not a security summit. All we want to say is that government should warn the Fulani herders. We will no longer tolerate attacks and abduction of our people. If you really want to convene a security meeting, tell the traditional rulers who will, in turn, invite us. You are holding a security meeting with those who are unleashing terror on you. Is that not foolishness? A security meeting should not be made a public gathering like this. It is a sensitive matter.”
Governors united to end attacks
The governors promised to bring an end to the continued attacks saying their people should hold them responsible for everything on the insecurity.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, raised alarm saying “Our people are under siege, the harbingers of death, sorrow, tears and blood threaten the existing fraternity among the peoples of this country. Narrow-mindedness gloats over the horrendous crimes perpetrated by these criminal elements. Some fail to see beyond partisan parochialism. The situation on ground should compel a broader and open-minded analysis of this strange incursion with a view to ascertaining the real reasons responsible for this disquiet.”
Renewed call for State Police
The governors, who jointly agreed that state police could be part of the solution to the nagging problem, noted: “We should be particularly worried by the current spate of an insidious phenomenon, hitherto unknown and uncommon in our immediate clime, creeping into our erstwhile peaceful and prosperous ambience. The incessant perpetration of anti-social behaviours occasioning pervasive despair and the seeming helplessness of our security agencies to stem the tide of these aberrant attitudes, which threaten the very existence of our region as an autonomous socio-political entity, call for serious scrutiny. We must review these unfortunate incidents individually and collectively.
“Every state must be able to ascertain the extent of this current threat. We must locate the sources of compromise within our space with a view to curtailing same effectively in both the short and long run.”
Almost all the governors suggested that there should be establishment of not only the state police but also community policing to check criminality.
Leading the calls was the host Governor, Engr Seyi Makinde, who commended the Federal Government for giving attention to the creation of state police, said: “The advantage of community policing far outweighs the fears of the people. This is the time to act.”