From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, yesterday, at Igangan, vowed to do everything possible to ensure massacre by criminal herdsmen never happen again.
Addressing members of the community, he said: “I promise you this is the last time anything like this will ever happen here. It is a promise I am making to you and it is a promise I will come through with.
“Don’t take law into your hands. I appeal to all those that lost loved ones because sometimes, the emotion can be really high, give us the opportunity to resolve this and make this place safer for you. You can see the light-up project that we are carrying out, it is for us to be able to see everywhere, whether it is day or night. There are people that do not want progress for our community, for our state and for our country. But I have faith that God will have mercy on us, our state and our country.
“So, I appeal to you, give us the opportunity to come back, rebuild things and put in a more solid architecture, such that you will be able to go to your farms and do your business without fear of anything.
“But I should be held accountable. I am responsible for this and I will do everything within my power to ensure it would not happen again.”
Meanwhile, Makinde called on the Federal Government to permit governors in the South West to equip Amotekun Corps with sophisticated weapons, such as AK-47, to tackle rising insecurity, especially banditry and kidnapping in the geo-political zone.
He spoke against the backdrop of the massacre of more than 10 persons in Igangan, Ibarapa zone of Oyo State on Saturday night by gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, who residents of Ibarapa claimed had threatened many weeks ago that they would strike, and eventually struck.
Makinde made the call in a keynote address during the opening of a two-day 2021 Governor Seyi Makinde National Democracy Summit, with the theme: ‘The Future of Democracy in Nigeria’, at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan.
Makinde, who left the summit midway for Igangan, expressed frustration on the challenges being faced by governors that are called chief security officers but cannot ask federal security agencies in their respective states to attend to security situation without them getting clearance from Abuja.
The governor said the only way out is for the Federal Government to allow state police for states to take charge of peculiar security challenges confronting them individually, adding that the state should be given power at the same time to control the natural resources in their states.
“With what happened at Igangan, the people can hold me responsible for letting them down and when I go there, I will take responsibility because those killings were really needless. Even though I continue to take responsibility for the security situation in Oyo State, we all know that, in reality, the commissioner of police has to wait for orders from ‘above’ before taking specific actions to benefit the local population.
“So, looking at the federal security agencies here in Oyo State, they have to get clearance from the federal. We will continue to do our best. Here in the South West, we were able to kickstart Amotekun. But even with Amotekun, people ask how the killings happened. Were they not there? But we have several limitations to what Amotekun can do and even the firearms they can carry.
“You have dane guns and you are faced with people carrying AK-47. If it is in terms of investment, if we are given the authority, I will also buy AK-47 for Amotekun, if given the licence,” he said.
Makinde said the people should appreciate that “state policing is a sure cure to our national development challenges. Anyone who has been involved in security at any level will tell you that policing is local. One of the reasons the Western Nigeria Security Network, code-named Amotekun, is recording success is because members of the corps are drawn from the locality. They know the terrain and so can gather needed intelligence. Also, they can be held accountable by the local people because they know them.
“So, when state governors become the actual chief security officers in charge of the security personnel in their states, they can quickly respond to security challenges.
“We are the Federal Republic of Nigeria. But our federalism exists in name only. Students of political history will tell you that what we have been practising is, in fact, a unitary system of government – where more powers are concentrated in the central government. Another thing that our political theorists will tell you is that by nature, a unitary system of government is better suited for small countries.
“Nigeria is not a small country. So, you can easily identify why we are experiencing developmental challenges across the board. We are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. For true federalism to thrive, the federating units should have more powers and autonomy. The government at the centre serves as a coordinator of assets but does not wield as much power,” Makinde said..