…Yoruba generalissimo, Ganiyu Adams warns over herdsmen attacks
…Reacts to Olakunri’s death, says Tinubu’s statement uncalled for
…Blasts S’West governors on failed Security Summit
…We’re ready to complement Police

By Dapo Akinrefon & Ebunoluwa Sessou

THE Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams is not pleased with the current state of the nation, especially, regarding the activities of marauding herdsmen in country, who carry on without any caution.

Aare Adams, Gani Adams, The Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Obateru Akinruntan, Olugbo
Aare Gani Adams, The Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland

Aare Adams, in this no holds barred interview with Vanguard, takes a swipe at former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu for saying that Fulani herdsmen should not be condemned, describing Tinubu’s remarks as uncalled for.

The generalissimo of Yorubaland also expressed anger over the disturbing activities of the herdsmen. He warned that the resort to self help may be the last option if urgent steps are not taken to address the state of insecurity in the country. He also speaks on other burning national issues. Excerpts:

Angry reactions have greeted the killing of Mrs. Funke Olakunri, daughter of Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti. What signal is this sending and what should be done to address this?

I think any well meaning Nigerian, who loves this country will be angry with the situation because the killings have been a continuous exercise despite the fact that Sister Funke was a daughter of a prominent Nigerian and leader of the Yoruba, Pa Fasoranti.

Many people have been killed and while we were trying to find solution to this burning issue, another bombshell was thrown at us.

I was on a trip to Kenya, Uganda and Mali and I had to cut short the trip because I was supposed to return to Nigeria on Friday, July 19, but because of the incident, I had to re-route my schedule and returned to the country on Monday, July 15.

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It is rather unfortunate that something like this is happening to us in our dear country. And it is not happening only in Yoruba land, we heard about the cousin of the one of the Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that was killed while another of his relative was kidnapped. When we talk about South West, it has been relatively peaceful but unfortunately, the issue of Fulani herdsmen has reduced the kind of peace and tranquility we normally have within the period of three years.

By and large, Nigerians will react angrily. Pa Fasoranti just lost one of his daughters two years ago, while another one was killed on Friday, July 12, in broad daylight. She was shot when she went to pay a visit to her father in Akure. She went to see the well being of a 94 year old. With the history of that family, Nigerians have to react angrily.

Second, as a Yoruba leader, he (Fasoranti) does not talk anyhow. He has always been an elder statesman, therefore, it  behooves  on Nigerians to be angry with the ugly development. It was the centre of discourse from different groups and people. That was one of the reasons we (OPC) had to issue a statement; from our experience, what happened can trigger crisis and reaction, and may even snowball into serious crisis.

You talked about experience. I remember in 2000 when former President Olusegun Obsanjo was in power, he made a declaration that any OPC member seen with arms should be shot. Do you think similar order is needed in our country now to ensure peace?

As a democrat, I will not agree with that. We must agree with the rule of law. If a herdsman is found with arms, he must be taken to the court of law for judicious prosecution. The only thing that can happen is that, those who confront the Armed Forces in the process can be taken out.

But, I will not agree to the action by the former President Obasanjo. There is a law that takes care of any one found perpetuating evil in the society. Whatever we do today becomes a reference point for us. In any democratic society, we do not just say law enforcement agents should kill but in the process of operation, those who confront them may lose their lives.

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So, I will not subscribe to that. We have to be very careful, it can happen to the criminal herdsmen today, but we do not know who is next within the shortest period and we do not pray for that.

I was called by the Inspector General of Police last Monday and the Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, called me too on this issue. I am aware that IG is planning to set up special squad to do something about the issue.

It is not as if we rely 100 percent on the police but we have to give them time to do their job, so that there will not be confrontation. If the government is serious about curbing this menace, Nigerians will be happy.

We are ready to complement their (Police) efforts as I have promised those from Force Headquarters that we are ready to complement their efforts. My reaction is that, we may react if this thing continues.

But, if the government steps in on time, we (OPC) may stop our own reaction as Yoruba.

The information at our disposal is that people are preparing to defend their communities. I am talking based on the information at my disposal, that different groups are building up their own internal security to defend themselves. Just as Obasanjo warned there might be a uncontrollable reactions and the insecurity in our land now may lead to inter-ethnic crisis.

It should be noted that we have Yoruba living in different parts of the North, East and South as well as other tribes.

If the government fails to address this issue, it might result to inter-ethnic crisis and that was the content in the statement we issued.

People believe that it is only OPC that would react. I am talking as Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland who gets information from different communities, I am    also talking beyond OPC as an organization. We know our people and we know the way our people operate. We are the most considerate and accommodating race in the world. We think twice before taking action. But, when Yoruba strikes, it is always very difficult to restraint them and we do not start a crisis until we are able to rid it out of our system.

That is a typical Yoruba man. We may be talking but can act beyond talking. We have reasons to appreciate lives. We have fought different inter-community wars including the Kirigi war for 16 years, the war between Ibadan, Egba and Ijebu, Ire and Esa Oke war.

So, we are always careful because of our experience. We knew many wars that took place during the Oyo Empire. So, we are very conscious about war. We have very long history. Histories of 8000 years, lots of war have been fought. We cannot be compared to people who just came to Nigeria in the early 17th century in the way they operate. That was one of the reasons we take things into consideration before reacting to issues.

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But, we see what happened to late Madam Funke Olakunri as an insult and a way to test our temperament. And that was the reason we reacted with that statement saying that Yoruba will react.

They are taking us for granted, not only OPC but the entire Yoruba race. They will react. You may be thinking, we are cowards, but we have many strong people outside OPC and other organizations. When you are talking of Unions including the NURTW, REATN, we have lots of strong people within them that you can count as warriors.

With the information in our disposal, this crisis may come from different angles and it may be out of control.

Therefore, it behooves on the government, as a responsible entity, to ensure it averts any crisis in the country.

Do you suspect that some criminals are hiding under the guise of herdsmen to perpetrate this evil as stated by the former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu when he visited Pa Fasoranti to condole with him? He said herdsmen should not be stigmatized.

I clearly disagree with the former Governor of Lagos State. His statement is uncalled for and watery. He is someone I respect a lot and I do not wish to dabble into his issue. But the statement he gave in Akure was a slap on the entire Yoruba land. It is out of place for his person to make such a statement. It is a slap and it could make one think that he has a limited interest in the lives and property of the Yoruba.

First of all, he was not at the scene of incident to have made such an unwarranted statement that the people that perpetrated the evil were not Fulani herdsmen.

You went to greet the old man and the family had already said that they went to police station and it was revealed that the police on duty confirmed that the people that killed late Funke Olakunri were Fulani herdsmen, and you deemed it fit to say that they should not stigmatise Fulani herdsmen. How can anyone from Yoruba land say the Fulani herdsmen should not be stigmatized with their antecedents?   He said it on Saturday in Pa Fasoranti’s House while another Fulani herdsman killed another Yoruba man in Odeda local government area of Oyo State. He should come out and say they were not Fulani herdsmen.

Will political interest make you not to care about your people? When there was crisis between the Fulani and Yoruba in Oyo State, despite his political ambition, President Muhammadu Buhari went to Oyo State when the late Lam Adesina was governor to mediate and request that his people (Fulani) should be protected.

Yoruba never counted it against him, they did not consider the menace of herdsmen during election. They voted for him as President of Nigeria. Anything God has written about an individual will surely come to pass. You do not relegate your race because of political ambition. Many people have lost sympathy for him (Tinubu) based on that statement. People are angry with such statement. That statement now justified what Yinka Odumakin has been saying about him that he was in support of RUGA from inception. His statement is uncalled for and unfair to the old man.

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Many had thought that an action would have been taken during and after the South West Security summit but it appears that nothing serious happened. Would there be another summit?

I think the governors were reluctant to organize that summit. I think they organized that summit based on the pressure mounted on them. What happened on that day was an eyesore. The governors arrived around past 12.00pm and they all left around 3pm. The six of them made speeches and not statements; they all gave their speeches for about 20 minutes. Deliberately, the Master of Ceremony refused to recognize me. Most of my colleagues refused to honour the invitation but I decided to honour the invitation because of the security of lives and properties of people. I called for the summit and lots of progressive organizations boycotted that summit.

But, I was there. It was when I got there that I realized that the governors were not serious about the summit. They were not serious with the security of lives and properties of the people. After all their drama, they all stood up at once and left the venue. I was amazed. They all left like spirit. I had never seen that type of conference in my life. The royal father was not allowed to make a statement. All the stakeholders in the security sector were not allowed to talk.

Now, it is happening. Look at the level of disgrace. They are all collecting security votes; yet, the daughter of the Yoruba leader was killed like a chicken in a broad daylight. They said, the police will fish out the culprits. There are lots of things to do, but they all ignored them because of their selfishness and ambition. They are all playing politics and showing off power without history.

The existence of power is having good history when you are no longer in power.

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu should not be the mouthpiece of the government; he should be a very good Yoruba leader that should defend his race. Before you can be a good Nigerian, you must have been a good person within your own community.

Charity begins at home.  You cannot be a good nationalist without having a good foundation and politics is about local interest. You don’t pay non-challant attitude to something that affects your locality.

Also, Tinubu is not helping the President by trying to defend the wrong doings of the government. The President may not know that he is doing the wrong thing and he will be having the mindset that a prominent Yoruba elder statesman has spoken. You are not Lai Mohammed, the spokesman of government.

You cannot be a friend of Fulanis more than late MKO Abiola. He was dining and wining with them. He was the one that settled the problem between Dasuki and Machido. He bought more than 1000 motorcycles for the people in Sokoto and more than 100 vehicles and gave them huge amount of money when General Ibrahim Babangida could not settle the fight in 1992. He (Abiola) was the friend of all the Emirs but what happened to him in 1993? People easily forget history. I am not saying he should not be a friend of the Fulani but not at the detriment of his people.

It seems Yoruba voted President Mahammadu Buhari largely because of Prof. Osinbajo and they have benefited from it

I do not want to go into politics on this issue. Politics has gone. We are left with how to tackle insecurity in the country. We have voted President Buhari but we need adequate security. We need to ensure that our lives are protected on the streets. We need to go anywhere as citizens of Nigeria anytime without fear. We need uninterrupted power supply, good infrastructure so that we can invite our friends.

Today, people who want to witness Osun Osogbo festival are no longer confident to come to Nigeria. They needed me to assure them of their safety before coming to Nigeria. You can imagine how terrible the situation is. I do not want to go into politics so that they will not feel that I have political agenda or I am politically motivated. This issue is germane.

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In all six geo-political zones, about five zones are not safe. South East is not safe, the North West that used to experience relative peace for 200 years is now having serious security threat. North Central is having serious problem, South West is not safe, and Niger Delta is the same.

Definitely, the entire country is not safe. Some people are not telling the President the truth about the security situation in the country. They are overheating the polity. El-Zakzaky people are protesting because court orders have not been obeyed. Same with Col. Sambo Dasuki. It is telling on the image of the country and the president.

Nigeria must be restructured

President Buhari must run a liberal democracy. He needs to listen to the people who say that Nigeria must be restructured. Nigerians must rise to ensure peace.

Obasanjo’s letter

Look at the content of the open letter by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He is not an ordinary person. He is highly spiritual aside the fact that he is a political wizard. He is someone who has experience when it comes to national governance as well as international politics. Look at the content of his letter. He is warning against anything that break up Nigeria. I expected the President to respond positively.

Recommendations of the 2014 National Conference are enough to solve the problems we are facing presently.

Are you saying that is the solution to…?

(Cuts in) That is the only solution. The IGP is trying his best because he is liberal in his operation. He called me when I was in Kenya but the truth is that he has been overwhelmed. The police are overwhelmed because of the level of bad structure in place.   My fear is that the security agencies should not be giving wrong information to the President.

With the way I see things, the IGP is determined and I learned from our conversation that he has formed a special squad to deal with this situation but if there’s no political will, they may not allow him to do anything. I am ready to complement their efforts within my little ability without being paid salary. We helped them during the Badoo menace, they did not compensate us.

We risked the lives of our members for one and half months in order to put to end to the issue of Badoo in Ikorodu area of Lagos and Ogun States. When kidnappers were raging in Ojo Cantonment in Festac area of Lagos, we were called upon for assistance; no compensation was given to OPC.

We went to the creeks in-between Abule Ado and Ijedodo and waylaid the kidnappers and reclaimed the villages and communities that were held hostage, we stopped them, and nothing was given to us. The place is now free of crime. It was the collaboration between OPC and Nigerian Army. The collaboration between the OPC and Nigeria Police led by the former Police Commissioner, Edgar stopped the reign of Badoo in Ikorodu. Now, we are talking about the entire South West. Issue of security should be taken holistically.

But the Miyetti Allah has called for Obasanjo arrest.

Nobody should take Miyetti Allah seriously on that. We rather take the Arewa Consultative Forum seriously when they speak and not the calibre of Miyetti Allah. It was this government that made the Miyetti Allah popular. If Buhari is out of power today, Miyetti Allah will scatter. How would you imagine a serious group defending killers, armed robbers? It is only Nigeria that encourages that kind of group. It was the same way Boko Haram started in Borno state.

Now, Miyetti Allah has started their own, if care is not taken, something will go wrong. The former President has spoken twice and people have called him names. Unfortunately, when things are wrong and go out of hand, it becomes a menace. This man has lots of farms; and apart from the nation, he has to defend his interest. Politics is about local interest and former President Obasanjo has the right to express his concern and he is proferring solution to the government.

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In 2005, when Obasanjo organized a confab and he failed the people that mattered, it went into chaos because he allowed those that ruined the confab.

But, former President Goodluck Jonathan was able to organize a confab and he got the needed result in 2014. It ended peacefully and there was a resolution. About 500 communiqués were raised for this country, and if President Buhari had started implementing it within his first two years in office during his first term, this country could have been better now.


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