From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Former governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, on Thursday threw a bombshell that it is not only the South West and South East of Nigeria that are agitating for carving out of Oduduwa Republic and Biafra Republic from the country, the Northern part of the country is also preparing to leave the country.
The elder statesman, however, noted that the North has actually been working assiduously to ensure a smooth take-off of probably Arewa Republic, while the South West and South East have been talking too much.
He made the disclosure in an interview with journalists in his house at Bodija, Ibadan after he observed this year’s Eid-el-Fitr prayer at the University of Ibadan Central Mosque and also hosted top politicians at his residence, including Senator Teslim Folarin, representing Oyo Central; Senator Abdulfatai Buhari, representing Oyo North in the National Assembly and the Ajia Balogun Olubadan, Chief Adegboyega Adegoke.
Answering question on agitation for self-determination in the country, Ladoja said: “Let us start with tolerance. At certain level, people will be talking, but we only know the beginning of a war, not the end. Nobody will remember how the war in Syria started and it is still on for years. And everything they built is being destroyed. So, I think we have to do it softly. We have started democracy. We are not happy with the way it is going.
“But even Quran says there will be time when God will give you good leaders; there will be time when the leaders that you are given by God are not as good because He wants you people to see the difference. We should assume that this too will pass. It started six years ago. In another two years, it will go. If you are saying because of that you want to go or do don’t want to go, who even tells you that the north is not even getting ready to go?
“Let us look at it that you people in the South are talking too much, and the people up North are acting too much. In Yorubaland, we talk too much. Even, people that don’t know anything about what the idea is all about will also speak on it.
“The North is also preparing to leave and they are working at it. Do you think it is a mistake that they are constructing railway to Niger Republic when we have not built railway from Ibadan to Kano, not even Abuja, and they said that is the first place we are going to spend our money? Can’t the refinery in Kaduna be repaired? Why are they saying they would build another refinery in Daura (Katsina State)? And they would be bringing crude oil from Niger Republic to the place. Don’t let us deceive ourselves, maybe a time will come when all of us will sit down together and separate peacefully.
“We have seen examples of countries that separated. We have two examples. One, Czechoslovakia went their separate ways peacefully, and they are still friendly allies. But Yugoslavia went into war. So, when we continue talking and engagements, if we cannot live together again, all of us will know that there is no reason to fight to keep the entity together any longer.”
On the ban placed on open grazing by all the governors in the Southern Nigeria after their meeting held in Asaba, Delta State this week, Ladoja noted that the law has been there and this is not the first time such ban would be placed on open grazing. He added that each state had done it separately in the past and he was optimistic that the coming together of the governors to place a ban on open grazing would be effective.
“Open grazing is not sustainable. We cannot say what was happening in Nigeria 50 years ago should continue today in Nigeria. What was the population 50 years ago, and what is the population today? The number of cows that people are slaughtering in the abattoir today, maybe that was what they were slaughtering in one month in years back. So, we have to find a way of going for a sustainable system. All over the world, even in Botswana, they have more cows than human beings; yet they did not have open grazing. We should also conduct it and we should now see cow herding as a business. It should be taken seriously, not where everybody can just go and say ‘I am a cow herder.’
“I think I support what they (the Southern governors) moved because the law has been there. There is open-grazing law in Oyo State. Unfortunately, we have not seen it being implemented because we still see cows roaming the streets. It is possible, now that all the Southern states’ governors have agreed on it, maybe the implementation will start in earnest.”
Ladoja stated further that the ban on the open grazing in the Southern Nigeria is part of the lasting solution to the rising insecurity in the country, saying: “Now, people have been taking about Fulani herdsmen. If there is no open grazing, there will not be so much Fulani herdsmen’s palaver again. That is the problem we have in Ibarapa and most of the problems in Benue now. So, let us start from the ban on open grazing.”
He argued that the leadership of security outfits in Nigeria is skewed in favour of only one tribe in the country, saying “a situation whereby the whole of security outfits in Nigeria are in the hands of one tribe, it doesn’t seem to go very well with all of us. We are a federation. We are not only one mono-language people. We are diverse and it is that diversity that made us strong. But it is now become our weakness. That is why people are losing interest in what the government is doing. That is why there are agitation for restructuring, dissolution and it is just because of the discontent.
“When that is in practice, it means most of the time that the best men are not in position. When you have people that are not competent, running a system, the system will at the end of it collapse. But let us only hope that Nigeria will survive.”