By SOLA EBISENI
LIKE him or not, the Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu SAN, has proved a man with abundant courage of his conviction. On every issue in the Nigerian project, you are not likely to be in doubt about his position and it has nothing doing with political correctness. On the issue of security generally, Aketi and his colleagues Governors of the South West, in spite of daunting constitutional constraints, have stood to be counted.
There are those who would swear that the terrorists attacks on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, last week was to talk to Aketi in the language he would understand for his non-conformist declarations on national matters. One was, therefore, not surprised at the no-holds-barred commendation on Aketi by Chief Ayo Adebanjo, the irrepressible Afenifere Leader when he led a formidable team of the National Caucus of the apex Yoruba Socio-Political Organisation on a solidarity visit to the Governor after having earlier called on the Olowo of Owo in his palace and the leadership of the Church in Owo.
The inhumanity of the attack is beyond comprehension even those of us who visited the the Church five days after, and certainly unimaginable for anyone reading the story. It was deeply unconscionably bizarre. It is the crudest act of animals of the lowest base.
To us in Yorubaland, it was war declared on us, but we are too sophisticated to be dragged into one by such animalistic thoughts. It has never happened in our history that any tribe, association or group would shake on our God-given territory.
One of such undeniable but enviable cultural sophistication is our religious pluralism and faith tolerance. One could, therefore, imagine the careless pronouncement by the Federal Government that the Islamic State for the West African Province, ISWAP, was responsible for the Owo massacre. Apart from the haste of such unbridled vituperations, its insensitiveness stinks to the high heavens.
As reported in the media: “Briefing State House correspondents at the end of Security Council meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, flanked by the Inspector General of Police Alkali Baba Usman, said that the Owo Catholic Church attack was perpetrated by international criminals. Ogbeni Aregbesola, who said that no arrest has been made, further said that the security agencies had been directed to go after the perpetrators of the act and bring them to justice, adding that the security was now zeroing in on them.
“He noted that the attack has no ethnic-religious connection as he affirmed that the group activity has nothing to do with real religion, adding that the motive of the terror group is believed to be pitching Nigerians against each other and making it appear as ethno-religious war.
“The minister stated that the council is also concerned about killings in the name of blasphemy and has directed the security agencies to go after perpetrators of both incidents that occurred in Sokoto State and Abuja recently. On the kidnap of the Methodist Prelate, the Minister said there has been a lead and that the security was still looking for the suspects and how the ransom was paid. He said there was no ethnic agenda in the attack, urging Nigerians to unite and defeat the terrorists.
It is noteworthy that it took the Owo attack for the Federal Government to find its voice, in what Frantz Fanon would call mute indifference on the gruesome murder and life cremation of Deborah Samuel in Sokoto by her supposed school mates and the ransomed kidnapping of the Methodist Prelate. I also hate to associate religion with the Owo massacre.
At the Yoruba level, it was not surprising that one of the earliest callers at the Catholic Church in sympathy and solidarity was the Chief Imam of Owo, Alhaji Aladesawe, who was also seen on television condemning the attack in the strongest of words.
In its bid to tone down a possible religious connection with the incident, particularly on a church, it sounds most illogical and dangerous that government would put the responsibility to an international organisation which undisguised agenda is to Islamise its territory of operations.
What better evidence of religious connections than attributing such gruesome multiple murders by gunmen in a Church with ISWAP. Knowing Yorubaland, it is beyond some ragamuffin to set our people against one another in the name of religion. Minister Aregbesola, whose family is an inseparable mixture of Islam, Christianity and the African religions would readily testify to that. It is also unthinkable that the Federal Government is always too quick to surrender to international terror each time our citizens are attacked. How contradictory could it be that government which owned up to having not effected arrest of the criminals who appeared invincible to it would give an arbitrary identity to those it does not even know.
As noted by Governor Akeredolu, the statement is too hasty, ISWAP don’t hide their attacks. If they have done it, they would have owned up to it. We are yet to know and our security people are still on their trail.
Finally, I join our Leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo in reiterating that the Federal Government which monopolises the instrument of coercion in the supposedly Nigerian Federation is responsible for the attacks. I also join Aketi that we must have state police now. Nigeria, we hail thee.
Ebiseni is Secretary General, Afenifere.