From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Kebbi Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Bagudu, yesterday led a delegation of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) on a fact-finding mission to the popular Shasha community, Ibadan, where Hausa and Yoruba clashed heavily last week Friday and Saturday, which resulted to losses of lives and burning of many houses and shops.
The delegation comprising governors Abdullahi Ganduje, Kano; Bello Matawalle, Zamfara and Abubakar Bello of Niger were hosted by Oyo Governor, Seyi Makinde, at Government House, Oke-Oyinbo, Agodi, Ibadan.
The entourage was joined by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG) in charge of South West, David Folawiyo; Commissioner of Police in the state, Mrs. Ngozi Onadeko; Sarkin Hausawa of Ibadanland, Alhaji Ahmed Zungeru and top government functionaries of Oyo State.
At the end of the visit, the governors resolved that the Shasha crisis was not tribal, but a regrettable spontaneous reaction of emotions of the traders and other persons in the area. They said normalcy was gradually returning to the trouble community and promised to mobilise support for those that suffered losses.
The four northern governors had arrived in Ibadan on Monday and held a brief meeting with Makinde ahead of the fact-fining visit to the troubled community yesterday.
On their way to Shasha, Governor Makinde led the delegation of NGF to the popular Bodija Market, where the northern states governors interacted with some traders from some state in the north, where it was evident that northerns were freely selling their onions, pepper, beans and other items without any fear or intimidation.
When they got to Shasha, the governors were taken round the devastated area to see the level of destruction of the market and the community. Many shops and houses were razed, while food items such as tomatoes, pepper, onions, among others were destroyed. The number of shops and houses burnt could not be ascertained at the time of the visit.
The delegation thereafter moved to the palace of the Sarkin Shasha, Alhaji Haruna Maiyasin-Katsina, as well as the abode of the Baale of Shasha, Chief Amusa Ajani, where they commiserated with them on the losses. They also sued for peaceful co-existence between warring parties.
The visit came five days after the bloody clash between the Hausa/Fulani residents in Shasha, Akinyele Local Government Area of Oyo State. It was observed that the charged atmosphere and tension in the community has begun to ease off.
Briefing journalists after the visit, Kebbi governor, Abubakar Bagudu, said: “We went to Shasha Market. We saw the destruction. But more than the destruction was the regrettable loss of lives that were caused by an unfortunate, regrettable and condemnable spontaneous response to emotions, because both Hausa and Yoruba community were unanimous that two issues led to the situation.
“First, there had been contention over the leadership of Shasha Market. Though the Sarkin Shasha and Baale of Shasha are in agreement about leadership, there were other interested groups that were not on the same page with them. So, there was this undercurrent, playing out.
“Then, the trigger. There was somebody, either pushing or carrying a wheelbarrow with tomatoes and it fell in front of a shop. One would have ordinarily thought that it was normal in a market. But once emotions are pent up and social media are instigating, unfortunately we had the situation that we had, which included loss of lives and we regretted and we sympathised with all those who lost their lives, and property.”
“We saw the damage and we appreciate what the governor has done so far, and community leaders, youth groups and security agencies. The Nigerian governors have been calling Governor Makinde over the last few days and we are glad that things are calming down and are returning to normalcy. We are equally glad that in our visit, both to the Sarkin Shasha and Baale of Shasha, they were firm that everybody is free to stay and conduct his lawful activity. The governor has assured that he would continue to engage to ensure that all communities are living without fear.
“As we speak, we understand that some people are in hiding, they are afraid about what would happen. So, it behooves on us to ensure that we communicate properly so that those who are living in fear, whether in Ibadan or outside Ibadan, and other states, because others may now live in fear that there may be reprisals.
“The Nigerian Governors’ Forum, President Muhammadu Buahri, security agencies are working hard to ensure that we treat things for what they are. Incidences are bound to happen, sometimes they are exploited by miscreants in the society to loot, steal and cause mayhem, and part of what has happened in Ibadan has to do with that. It’s just like what we saw during the #EndSARS riot. But I am glad that reason is prevailing and people are calming down and they are encouraging others.
“But for the generality of Nigerians, it is important to know that the city of Ibadan is calm. There are no people chasing each other, and people are supporting each other to resume normalcy. To those outside Ibadan, particularly in Northern states, we want to explain that a regrettable, spontaneous incident has happened, but it is not a tribal conflict.
“It is a regrettable conflict that the different communities in Oyo are working and holding each other’s hands to sort out. So, we are glad that the governor is rendering assistance. We the Nigerian Governors’ Forum are also going to support Governor Makinde. In fact, we have given a token to support those who are already displaced and we will meet at a wider forum tomorrow (Wednesday) and I am sure more support will be mobilised.”
Governor Makinde, however, appealed to all the aggrieved parties to sheathe their swords and allow peace to reign. He said his administration would also do the needful on the Iroko Market if it would cost breakdown of law and order. He, however, appealed to the media and politicians not to blow the issue out of proportion.