From Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin
The Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), New Era, in Kwara State, has suspicion over the influx of herdsmen into the state, warning that it portends a time bomb if not addressed quickly.
Kwara State Coordinator Bayo Fabiyi disclosed this in a chat with newsmen in Ilorin.
Fabiyi said that his men stationed all over the state gives him security report about the suspicious movement of cattle herders into some Yoruba speaking areas of Kwara state and that they have eventually outnumbered the inhabitants.
He said that the Seriki and his men chased away from Igangan and other areas in Oyo State have found their way into Kwara as he reliably gathered that settlements like Esie, Arandun, Omido, Agbamu, Oro Ago, Amori, Oke Ode, Buhari, Igbaja up till Share headquarters of Ifelodun Local Government Area have been overwhelmed by the influx of these herders and that most of them are arms carrying herders, making it dangerous and suspicious.
He explained that local hunters at Esie and Erin Ile had denied them entry into their domains but they decide to stay in faraway forests away from one boundary into another boundary.
The OPC state coordinator who is also the National Treasurer of the Congress said that Kogi and Kwara must be ready to collaborate to dislodge these herdsmen to avoid a future situation of managing a crisis instead of nipping it in the bud.
He cited cases of herders reported to the Congress by inhabitants that when cattle eat up farmlands and they are reported to their traditional ruler, they are fined to pay for damages but the heady ones among them goes back to destroy the remnant in the farm, claiming they have been made to pay for the entire farm.
According to Fabiyi, ‘the people in those areas live, daily in fear of being overrun someday by these herders. They can no longer go to the farm, their wives and children are being raped and they increase in numbers by the day.”
‘Just yesterday, nine trailer load of herdsmen were chased back from Esie In Irepodun Local Government Area of the state by local hunters. If they had been allowed to stay, imagine the danger they would pose to the environment. These people lament that before the invasion of Fulanis, they send farm produce to their children living in Lagos and other places outside Kwara but since their sources had been blocked, they now live at the mercy of those children, considering the state of the nation’s economy, making things more difficult.
Fabiyi reiterated that the attitude of Fulani herders to their host does not portray a people who came in peace adding that no Yoruba person living in the north can ever try what they do there without being killed.
He lamented that ‘all herdsmen cases taken to police stations over accusations are never allowed to see the light of the day because there is always order from above that stalls such matter. Are we not under the same constitution? How are they better than us? If the educated Fulanis talk sense to their people, things would have been different but when their tribesmen commit a crime, they would rather shield them and when we talk, they would say we are generalizing. Let me ask you, will any Yorubaman shield their criminal inclined sons and daughters? Never!
‘We all have kinsmen all over the world, we warn them not to tarnish family names, and this goes a long way guiding them but here is a people who perhaps have an agenda to usurp our lands and kill everybody and then lord over us, if not why would Presidency close eyes to killings everywhere. They are killing in the far north, we said they are brothers, why would they extend such to us. If we had spoken of Zamfara, Yobe, Borno, they will ask what is our business? Now we have a business, we must speak out!,” he concluded.
Speaking of Sunday Adeyemo (Sunday Igboho), Bayo Fabiyi said that the young man is doing what the great names in Yoruba could not do adding that he had taken the place of a true born Yoruba, not a bastard and those who dissociate from him do so at their own peril because the people see him as the Hero which he truly is.
‘Sunday Igboho may be a young man, a small boy to so many of us but he is a hero, give it to him. There are a thousand of us who can ask Sunday to kneel down and hands up but he is very courageous and committed to defending his fatherland. I heard some of our dissident Yorubas, politicians call him names, I pity those people. They are more miscreant than Sunday. They chose to sell off their father’s house to play politics, so ask them who is the true born?
‘A man stood up, laid his life down to fight against injustice meted on his people and here you call him a miscreant. I heard what Aare Gani Adams said about him, but in the spirit of the struggle, I will not join issues with him. I am of the opinion that we all should first fight this battle together and later, we shall tell each other some bitter truths.
‘Sunday Igboho was a bonafide OPC member. I will remind them that Sunday was brought in by Alhaji Lawal Akintolu, National Baba Oodua of OPC, then in Ake, Abeokuta, Ogun State. We were together for a long while. Though he didn’t rise to become coordinator or commander, he went into politics, so his travel with politicians made him more popular than many of us, but he is a bonafide son of Oduduwa. Why we seem to distance from him a bit is because OPC in those days abhorred involvement in politics because we believe that partisan politics will split us. We cannot force all members to be in one party, so we chose that whoever is in politics must do so on his own individual basis not using our name.
‘Somebody told Aare Ona Kakanfo that he is not appointed for political reasons but as leader of Yoruba warriors. We are yet to see him rise to this challenge. I won’t say more than that, we don’t wash our dirty linen outside, we are “Omoluabi” people, custodians of moral values.
‘We all started this struggle to maintain the name of our fatherland more than thirty tears back, so any Yorubaman who say OPC is a group of miscreants must be insane. Fatai a PhD holder went to Seriki Fulani in Igangan to report how herders ate up his farm and were tied down, mesmerized and killed. If he had been with an OPC member, such would not have been his fate. All those educated Yorubas, speaking Grammar against their kinsmen, remind them that when the battle is taken to our doorstep, most of them would just travel abroad if they have opportunities, we are the ones to ward off attacks, so if they call us names, God will judge them.’
The OPC New era state Coordinator lamented the attitude of President Muhammadu Buhari in taking sides with his kinsmen, saying: ‘We all voted him, ignoring his tribe and past atrocities, now he is biting the fingers that fed him. Obasanjo was a President too. When it seems our boys were misbehaving, he gave shoot at sight order. Though we were not happy then, but we realized today that he is the only true Nigerian President who really understand patriotism and statesmanship.
‘No tribe under Obasanjo can claim being marginalized and if any was being marginalized, it’s the Yoruba people. Obasanjo will ensure that your credentials are right before he puts you in an office, not a people that ignore qualification but just fixing square pegs into round holes on sentiments in a nepotistic manner. Nigeria is too large for such an attitude if we must remain united. No one wants Nigeria split but all these acts of lawlessness by other tribes could make us have a rethink.’
He called on the Kwara State governor to set up a committee to look into issues being raised and if possible adopt the resolution of Governors of the South West, that underage grazing be banned as well as night grazing.