By Olusesan Laoye
Opposition against Governor Seyi Makinde both in Oyo State and at the Federal level has continued to grow over his handling of the ethnic clashes in the state which have claimed many and pitched the Fulani settlers and local communities. Last week, another front in the crisis was opened in Shasha, where a skirmish claimed over 20 lives and properties destroyed.
Matters came to a head last month when one Sunday Adeyemo, alias, Igboho, Igangan community to flush out the terrorizing herdsmen for had held the area hostage by all kinds of banditry, to enforce his quit notice given to them earlier. The invasion was necessitated by the alleged foot-dragging by the governor to protect the people of the areas because of the fear of provoking reactions from the federal government. Adeyemo’s action received public approval as tumultuous crowds heralded his welcome and passage.
Unlike the Ondo state Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, who came out forcefully to order the herdsmen out of the forest reserves or face dire consequences, a threat that compelled a meeting of the Govern ors’ Forum to address the issue, Governor Makinde allegedly condoned the nefarious activities of the bandits, which was making life unbearable for the before the action of Adeyemo.
Oyo State had been in focus over spate of incidents of insecurity of lives and properties, especially the issues of the Fulani atrocities across the state and most significantly in places like Ibarapa and Oke Ogun axis. These are the areas where the Fulani have been terrorising the people and planned to run the state over.
With many indigenes of the state angry over the governor’s handling of the crises and spoiling to take vengeance on his political future, he is also facing fire from the federal government, which believed that he failed to protect the Fulani, which allowed Adeyemo to visit the people with violent reprisals.
There had been series of cases, rape, kidnapping and all sorts of crimes in the state perpetrated by the herdsmen and bandits. The most devastating and annoying had been killing of kidnapped victims after paying ransoms and the dehumanisation and torture of farmers who complained about the destruction of their farmlands with expanse of crops worth several millions of Naira by the herdsmen’s cows.
It got to a stage that the Fulani caged the people in both Ibarapa and Oke Ogun that they were living in fear and lost hope, since they believed that help was not coming from the government.
The perpetual state of uncertainty made the people, community leaders and traditional rulers in the affected areas to cry for help and got the attention of the self-acclaimed liberation fighter and activists, Sunday Adeyemo who chased the terrorists and their leaders out of the most dangerous zone, Igangan and other parts of Ibarapa zone.
Igboho’s activities further extended to Oke Ogun Oyo State and Yewa in Ogun State. As a matter of fact, Igboho’s action spurred other people from other parts of the country who have been tolerating the excesses of the Fulani in their areas to chase them out.
Apart from this, his action became the tonic the South West needed to fight their common enemy as the youths all over the South West were emboldened to fight on. It further gave the youths in Oyo State the courage to come out to fight the Fulani forcing them to flee, a situation the federal government strongly frowned at.
The inaction of the State government which made a great hero out of Igboho, did not go down well with the federal government which ordered his arrest but the support he got from the entire people of the South West and the youths in Oyo State made Governor Makinde to soft pedal and sought a soft landing, especially with many south west leaders behind Igboho. It was a major political damage for the governor, who seems to have lost favour both in the state and with the centre.
But just as the government of Governor Makinde was finding solution to the Oke Ogun and Ibarapa issue, another one reared its head at Shasha in Akinyele area of Ibadan. It was a big clash between the Hausa and the Yoruba traders in the market which was ignited by a cart pusher who was alleged to have assaulted a pregnant woman, which drew the attention of a shoe maker who was allegedly hit with a charm by the Hausa man and died.
This led to arson and destruction of goods and killings on both sides. The Shasha incident was however the climax of the several incidents of communal and ethnic crises, which have engulfed Oyo State, since the advent of Governor Makinde’s government.
After the Shasha incident, it was being speculated that the federal government was planning to declare a state of emergency in Oyo State with the heavy security presence, following orders from the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu to the Commissioner of Police in the state.
However, probably based on security reports that this could further worsen the situation and could trigger total unrest in the South West, with a domino effect in other parts of the country especially the South East and the South South, the Buhari government was advised to mellow down to avoid having too many fronts of war, which could further overstretche the already struggling security agencies, given the historical position of Oyo state in the South west.
is the political centre of the South West.
This made four Northern governors to rush down to meet Governor Makinde to find amicable solutions. Since the Shasha incident, the already apprehensive northerners are no longer comfortable staying in Oyo State, and from available record, over 6,000 of them are now awaiting evacuation to their respective states of origin.
Right now, Governor Makinde is in the eyes of the storm as the opposition is now using the situation to condemn his government. As one of the APC leader in the State, Chief Ishola Omoniyi said, Governor Makinde before now ought to have put proper measures in place to curtail the atrocities of the herdsmen.
He said the governor refused to heed the warning of Col. Kunle Togun about the influx of the Fulani into the forests and the rate they are destroying farmlands. Togun, a former Director of the Directorate of Military Intelligence, had raised the alarm that the South-West has been invaded by Fulani herdsmen from Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal and other West African countries.
Togun also said it was unfortunate that some people were playing politics with security issues.
According to him, if all the warnings have been taken seriously, the state won’t find itself in this situation.
But the publicity secretary of the Peoples Democratic party in Oyo State, Akeem Olagunju condemned those casting aspersions on Governor Makinde, saying that the governor has adopted tactical approach in handling the security situations in the state, instead of confrontation. He also pointed out that if not for the maturity and clear understanding of the political implications of the whole situation and the maturity applied by Govermor Makinde, the situation would have been worse than this.
Makinde, he said has shown that he is on top of the situation and has nothing to fear. He further said that it is not in Oyo alone that there is security challenge, but all over Nigeria. Makinde, he argued has done well and the people of the state are appreciating all his efforts and concern for them.
The governor while taking measures on the situation had ordered the Amotekun Corps to comb the forest and fish out criminals while he has set up a panel to investigate the Shasha incident. He is also making efforts to double the security network in Oyo State.
Despite Governor Makinde’s efforts to put security in good order, the opposition still believed that he has not handled the situation well capitalising on the fact that the statement issued by the Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu should have come from him because it was his state that was boiling.
It would be recalled that during the unrest in Shasha it was Governor Akeredolu who issued a statement as the Chairman of the South West Governor’s Forum to douse the tension.
In his statement he said he and his colleagues in the South West, would want the people to be peaceful and law abiding.
He however maintained that people should not take the hospitality of the Yoruba as weakness, adding that the forest reserve in the Region would not be allowed to be used as hide out for criminals.
On all these counts the political future of Makinde hangs in the balance fueling speculation that he may jump ship. His second term, according to political analysts, would depend on how he handles the security situations in the state as the people of the state are watching.
Meanwhile the Inspector General of Police has deployed teams of crack police to be supervised by the DIG David Folawiyo to Oyo to ensure peace while at the same time, Detectives (CID) and helicopters have been deployed too, for surveillance in the forests to flush out criminals.
Also popular pro-democracy activist, Kayode Ogundamisi has called on the governor of to provide vehicles for over 6000 people who wanted to be voluntarily evacuated from Ibadan.
“These Nigerians are still under threat in various locations; they are just waiting for bus,“ he added.
Kayode disclosed in his statement to Makinde and his COS are yet to be responded to which he described as “unacceptable”.
“They are not asking for money. Just security cover until they can be evacuated. We have sent you and your COS the locations. You are the Governor for all.” Kayode Ogundamisi concluded.