An important man once said, “those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” This is one major reason why we look back at events, and with the benefit of hindsight, take lessons from those experiences. Therefore, it is imperative to analyse the past few weeks in Oyo State, beginning with the demagogue, Chief Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho’s ultimatum to the Hausa/Fulani in Ibarapaland through to the visit of Governor Seyi Makinde to the same axis.
All right-thinking persons would condemn the wanton killings and kidnappings occurring in parts of the Oke-Ogun and Ibarapa zones of Oyo State. Indeed, there has been the needless loss of lives, including the more recent killing of Dr Fatai Aborede by unidentified criminals still at large. However, as the Yoruba proverb says, “One does not get angry with one’s head and therefore use one’s cap to cover one’s buttocks.”
When certain types of criminal activities linger for decades, they are not resolved by applying band-aids. Instead, they should be deeply interrogated, and surgical procedures applied. The problem of herdsmen resorting to violence to claim lands that do not belong to them is many decades old. In fact, one of the farmers who spoke during the emergency meeting stakeholders held with Governor Seyi Makinde in Igangan, Ibarapa, concurred that for the past 15 years, they have not known peace in the land. Previous administrations failed to address these issues.
This does not mean that the present governor, Seyi Makinde should sit back and do nothing. After all, security was one of the four pillars of his administration’s campaign promises. Could the state have done more? Of course, even if the title “Chief Security Officer” is in name only. The buck stops at someone’s table. Governor Seyi Makinde has stepped up to the plate and picked up the buck. He acknowledged that he should have visited Ibarapaland sooner in the wake of the Igboho drama.
However, it would be grossly unfair to the Makinde administration to say that he did nothing as he watched his people die. The Oyo State Government invested so much in a Federal Police that turned a blind eye to the people’s plight. It is a matter of record that when Governor Seyi Makinde took over office in 2019, he went to great lengths to equip the police and “Operation Burst” to fight crime.
But after the police withdrew their services following the #EndSARS protests, security took a hit. The Amotekun Corps that had been holding the forte since they commenced operations in November 2020 (despite coordinated media attacks against them) was stretched thin doing both the police’s work and their own duties. Yet, it is on record, that before Sunday Igboho issued his infamous ultimatum, the Amotekun Corps had recorded great security strides. They combed the forests of Ibarapa and Oke-Ogun and arrested a kidnapping kingpin. They had also started enforcing Oyo State’s anti-open grazing law by escorting “Bororo” herdsmen out of Oyo State.
It is important to set the records straight. An unbiased review of these happenings will show that politics, misinformation and miscommunication played roles in escalating the situation. An analytical mind would draw a thread from the coordinated media attacks against Governor Seyi Makinde tothe recent romance with a new found messiah. Nature indeed abhors a vacuum. And so, when a crack is in the wall, the lizard will stroll into the house. Insecurity is never a good thing, the situation becomes compounded when a section of the media deliberately skews narratives to create an perception of anarchy.
All well-meaning residents of Oyo State should be more concerned about how matters that involve the wholesale labelling of groups of people are handled. At no point in the history of humanity has it been okay to make an entire group of people pay for the sins of others because they share the same skin colour, language, gender or culture. This is where Sunday Igboho got it wrong.
Oyo Affairs joins Governor Seyi Makinde in condemning the call for the eviction of all Fulanis in Oyo State. We believe that the steps that Governor Makinde has outlined for restoring peace in the Oke-Ogun and Ibarapa zones are a more effective approach to matters. We also acknowledge that when tempers are high, we often take actions that we will later regret. This is why we install leaders who will have the courage to do the right thing even when under tremendous pressure to take the populist approach.
Governor Seyi Makinde displayed uncommon wisdom and courage in not remaining silent when he could have used his silence as a political tool. On January 20, 2021, his broadcast to the state was just what was needed to lower the tension and force people to have the necessary conversations. Even though some persons still took actions that led to the Seriki Fulani of Igangan fleeing to Kwara State, Governor Makinde’s speech was pivotal in de-escalating the situation.
His follow up actions also underscored that he fully understood the scope and dimensions of the problem at hand. As he clearly stated during the security meeting with southwest governors, his actions are not based on hearsay, but on firsthand interactions with the people. He mentioned that at least one local council development area in Oyo State has a majority of Hausa/Fulani residents. In fact, there were at least100 different Fulani settlements in Ibarapaland as at 2018.Surely, it is not just unconstitutional, but against the laws of natural justice to give people who have lived in one place for almost a century, a week’s notice to leave.
We should never consent to a free-for-all. When a crime is committed, the criminal should be brought to book using all legal means. Going the Sunday Igboho way is a call for chaos. Chaos always births disasters in unexpected proportions. There will be no Oyo State if the land descends into anarchy. The federal government will send in the military as it is constitutionally empowered to and Sunday Igboho will definitely not help anyone. We already saw him deny the people of Igangan when the Seriki’s house was burnt.
Security of lives and properties is our collective responsibility. Instead of relying on the installing of messiahs and scapegoatism to restore peace, we should be looking to more lasting solutions. As we all know, the problem itself is twofold: First, we have the farmers/herdsmen issue. This will be resolved primarily by enforcing the state law on open grazing. The second is the problem of kidnapping and banditry. These criminals are people of various ethnic groups,in and out of Oyo State. These two issues must not be lumped together.
The issue of kidnapping and banditry will be resolved with more policing and intelligence gathering. Governor Seyi Makinde has already deployed more members of the Amotekun Corps to the troubled spots. Their synergy with the police and members of the community will go a long way to drastically reducing criminal activities in these zones. It is time for all to sheath their swords and take a step back. It is time to let the security operatives do their jobs. For, if chaos unleashed on our land, who will suffer the consequences?