It is no longer news that some non-state actors in Oyo State recently gave the Hausa-Fulani community a seven-day ultimatum to leave Oyo State or face dire consequences. The news is that in a swift demonstration of the kind of leadership Governor Seyi Makinde has come to be known for, he delivered a statewide broadcast calling this demagogue to order.
In his broadcast, Governor Makinde emphasised that the real enemies of the people are neither farmers nor herdsmen trying to carry out legitimate business in Oyo State, but kidnappers, armed robbers, cultists and bandits. He reiterated his pledge to protect all law-abiding residents of his state. He also noted that the state has an apparatus for bringing offenders to bookwhich the people should utilise.
But he has been getting some backlash for this stand. Why his speech should generate such furore is something that future generations of historians may have to examine. But one thing is certain, Seyi Makinde has shown again that he does not run his government on populism but on principles.
Indeed, history will be kind to Makinde for being the non-partisan patriotic voice of our day. All well-meaning Nigerians will do well to line up behind this great man who is willing to take a stand for the principles of democracy and justice when keeping quiet would have been the more politically favourable and populist thing to do.
For the avoidance of doubt, Seyi Makinde has not taken a stand against his own people. Rather his position shows that he puts his own people first. He cares about how easily the actions of non-state actors and demagogues, left unchecked, can degenerate to uncontrollable chaos. Had leaders in Northern Nigeria taken the stand that he is taking now, groups like Boko Haram would not have had a chance to thrive.
Nigeria is a country bound by a constitution. All actions taken must follow the letter and spirit of the law. The constitution is clear about freedom of movement and freedom of residency. The fact that some leaders are acting contrary to the constitution is no reason to react in kind. Recall that some time ago, a Yoruba monarch in Lagos threatened Igbos with the lagoon. Well-minded citizens spoke up against it. Today it is the Fulanis. Well-meaning Nigerians must not succumb to a call for ethnic targeting and profiling.
The authorities and security apparatus must be allowed to do their jobs. This is the crux of Makinde’s broadcast. There is a law against open grazing in Oyo State. That law is to be enforced by the state and not individuals. It was only days ago that it was reported that the state-owned security apparatus, the Amotekun Corps, escorted some herders who contravened this law out of Oyo State. They were dislodged from the forests and escorted out of the state.
The police, members of the Amotekun Corps and all other security operatives have been constitutionally empowered to take appropriate action when any persons or groups contravene the law. Law-abiding citizens should not live infear of their lives or possible eviction from any part of Nigeria.
Seyi Makinde’s speech is a call for introspection. Let us not act emotionally and ruin already fragile relationships and trusts. The burn-it-all-syndrome must be shunned! Law-abiding Fulani herdsmen, some of whom have paid for the land for grazing, and made Oyo State their residence, should not be made to pay for the misdeeds of their tribesmen just because they speak the same language or look the same way.
We must be able to differentiate between law-abiding citizens and agents of anarchy. This generation must not become so factionalised and divided that they cannot differentiate between a person’s tribe and their conduct. How alarming is it that educated people are willing to follow demagogues and shun constitutional provisions!
Lest we confuse issues, although there are people with genuine concerns about how Makinde will make the state more peaceful, the majority of the open opposers are hunting for mayhem and chaos because their agenda can only thrive under such conditions. Oyo Affairs hopes that well-minded people of Oyo state will answer the call of Governor SeyiMakinde to put away dividers such as party affiliations and work for the peace and prosperity of Oyo State. This is a task that must be carried out.