By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—THE Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Thursday, warned that the South West zone would defend itself from marauding herdsmen, saying the drums of war are sounding in Nigeria
Briefing State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, the Ooni said the drums of war were fast sounding loud across the country, warning that the Yoruba will defend themselves, with reinforcement from the Federal Government.
Besides, Oba Ogunwusi said he was at the villa in view of the rising insecurity challenges in Nigeria including banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery and insurgency in the North East.
He said the South West does not want to experience any other war, noting that he came to speak to the President on behalf of traditional rulers towards improving the security situation in the country.
His words: “I came to speak on behalf of other traditional rulers. The issue at hand in the South West is real, which is insecurity. Those of us who live in the remote and rural areas of the South western part of the country are insecure because most of the bushes are occupied by strange people and we have decided to work with the Federal government to fish them (strangers) out.
“Everybody is beating the drum of war but we don’t want war. Who can stand war? We want something better for our youths. We should better use them for something good other than shouting war and anarchy. We don’t want that.
“We told the President that and he is on the same page with us. Politicians should be careful not to throw things out of proportion.”
In addition, he said: “We should make sure things are right. Mr. President has actually given good directives to security chiefs, especially the Inspector General of Police, they will visit palaces of traditional rulers in the South West with immediate effect.
“We need to work very closely with them and other security agencies in the country. It is very important for us to put them to use and work with the locals; it is very important so that we can separate the corn from the chaff.
“We should not keep over hyping it and say what is next is war, no. We know what Mr. President has been saying about the South Western part of the country for a long time and that is peaceful co-existence. We still want to keep that, we don’t want any war to happen. We don’t want any attrition and we don’t want any anarchy. So, that is what I came to discuss with him.”
He, however, said that the President assured him of setting the records straight on the controversial Ruga project, adding that was blown out of proportion.
He said: “Another thing that he assured me of, before leaving, which I will go and give back to much more experienced traditional rulers in the South West and our leaders across board, is that he has assured that he will say his own side of the story about Ruga. He wants to let the world and Nigerians in particular, know the true side of the story because it is being read out of context. So, we should give him the opportunity to speak as the number one citizen of the country.
“What is important for me is the youthful, exuberant nature of our youths in Nigeria. We should not allow them to take laws into their hands, they should not be allowed to start killing and maiming innocent people, we don’t want that. The drums of war is resonating too much and we are very worried.”
Strangers in our midst
Asked whether his comment that the South West should defend itself from the marauding herdsmen was not also beating the drums of war, the monarch said self defense was necessary when a stranger visits.
He said: “I told you that it is real, we have wrong people in our midst. So, when we have wrong people in our midst, why shouldn’t we defend ourselves? That is why I came here that in terms of defending ourselves; we need more Federal Government apparatus to defend ourselves because we don’t want to be defenceless.
Reinforcement from FG
“It is very important. It is about the mission of defending ourselves that I am here. We need reinforcement from the Federal Government and I just mentioned to you that the President has said he will give directives to the IGP to go and see every nook and cranny of our traditional institutions in South West. That would probably extend across the country because he told me that he worked in the North East and North Central discussing and working with the traditional institutions.
We understand our territory
“We understand our territory more than anybody. We understand our territory very well. What is important is that everybody in the South West is on the same page. We don’t want war, we want to work with the Federal Government to defend our land.”
On his reaction to the alleged stigmatization of the Fulani across the country, he said: “Well, it is not about stigmatization, it is about separating the corn from the chaff.
“A lot of them (herdsmen) are mixed up with the good ones. We are not saying all Fulani are bad, it is not only about the Fulani, it is about the miscreants that are hiding under the name of Fulani.
“We want to try as much as possible to work with the government. The government has the security apparatus and they are meant to defend us. That is what we are looking up to now.”