From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Yoruba leaders have raised the alarm it may be difficult for the South Western Nigeria to overcome banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery and forms of criminality, unless the race shun their socio-political and economic differences and be united towards speaking with one voice.
They raised the alarm at world assembly of Yoruba at home and abroad, organised by Pan-Yoruba Congress, entitled: ‘Our Destiny in our Hands,’ held at Mapo Hall, Ibadan. The progarmme was well attended by Yoruba leaders across the six states South West – Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti, as well as Kwara and Kogi States.
According to them, some Yoruba leaders have been sabotaging unity of the land. They emphasised why all hands must be on deck to liberate Yoruba race from insecurity and economic hardship, besetting the progress of the region.
Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde; the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams; Secretary-General of Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide; traditional and religious leaders were among the dignitaries that attended the programme.
The Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Adams, in his address, said has agreed to work in unity with leaders of all socio-cultural groups in Yorubaland towards ensuring security of life and property in Yorubaland, adding that all Yoruba leaders must be united to overcome insecurity in the zone.
Adams also alleged that the police are supporting Fulani against the Yoruba over the recent arrest of a suspected Fulani territorial warlord and kidnap kingpin, Iskilu Wakili, in Ibarapa zone of Oyo State. He stated that Wakili has purportedly caused the death of some people in Ibarapa and that his men trailed him for one months before he could be arrested. He said Wakili’s second in command was the first that was arrested.
He stated that the members of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) in conjunction with other local security operatives in Ibarapa effected Wakili’s arrest. The OPC, he said, handed over Wakili to the police, but the police in turn arrested the three OPC members that took him to the station.
“Last week, the police released the three OPC members on bail. But on Monday, this week, the police invited them, and they were promptly re-arrested on the same Monday. They were arraigned in court on Tuesday, this week, and they were charged with conspiracy, arson, murder, willful destruction of property and so on, which are not bailable. Whereas, Wakili, and three other persons that were also arraigned in court on the same Tuesday were charged with bailable offences.”
Adams noted that five persons started revolution in France, while three persons also started revolution in Russia. He added that less than 70 persons struggled to achieve democracy in Nigeria, saying Yoruba monarchs and leaders should not think they are excluded from insecurity, as they might be the first targets. He enjoined them to identify with the campaign for a secured South West and Nigeria as a whole.
The Aare Ona Kakanfo urged the South West governors to increase budgetary allocations to the agricultural sector, and that they should encourage more youths to go into agriculture towards achieving food security for the zone.
Governor Makinde, in his address, stated: “When I was informed about this gathering, I told Baba Adebanjo that I will be here personally. If you look at the distinguished personalities on the high table, they are also people of note in Yoruba land. I am also a true son of the land. Though I have been having a busy schedule, this gathering is important to me and that is why I am here.
“Let me go down the historical lane a little bit. Before I won the last election, I scaled through different hurdles and I don’t think there is anything that cannot make me do the right thing for the people. I make bold to say I am not encumbered in any way. I have no political godfather except God the father. I know it was God that place me in this position, the reason I cannot be afraid of men, no matter how powerful they are.
“During the 2019 election, I went to meet Iba Gani Adams at home and so many other people and they told me that if I needed OPC people to guard the polling booths, they would be made available. And if you remember, One Million Cult boys were also threatening to disrupt the electoral process. Eventually, all the people who were arrested for involving in irregularities were from APC. No single person mentioned that I sent him or her to commit any offense. So, the God, who we are resting upon, is still on the throne.
“By the virtue of my office, I can see some certain things that you cannot easily see and I stand on my honor to say that I will take decisions in the best interest of my people.
“Now, some are saying that Presidency should be zoned to the South West in 2023 and making some unfounded comments. One thing I know is, the issue of 2023 should not be the main discourse for now but how we can ensure we give people what they deserve in this federation called Nigeria. That is what I think is the major challenge before us. And where it is needless to spill the blood of innocent people, we should not. Like our father will say ‘wisdom surpasses power’. So, I want to urge us to apply wisdom in all we do. If we fail to apply wisdom, I pray none of us will be collateral damage.
“What do they want to do to Seyi Makinde? As I stand before you, if I am being asked to leave the seat as the governor, I do not have a pin to go and pick in my office in Secretariat. I go there with my bag and go back to my house with my bag. I made a commitment to the people of Oyo State to serve them. So, I am not bothered about the position but bothered about the welfare, development and growth of Oyo State and Yorubaland in general.
“At the last security meeting we had, I created a War Room because the issue of security is beyond rhetoric. I also set up a Task Force on security, which I am chairing, and one of the decisions we took there is that in the security architecture of Oyo State, we must now incorporate non-state actors. Even there is in-fighting in the Amotekun outfit we created. What we want to achieve is Oyo State, and by extension, the Yorubaland in which people can sleep with their two eyes closed; where people can go about their lawful businesses without any hindrance.
“In the days to come, those who are not in Amotekun, who could be OPC or Soludero or Vigilante, we will be coming to them to participate in what we call voluntary policing. What it means is all hands must be put on deck to address the issue of security and development of our state. Government alone cannot do it. Our security agencies cannot do it all alone. Our traditional rulers and the non-state actors must come together to support their government. You installed this government and if this government is ready to listen to you and do what you want, please give your support.”
In the paper presented by Prof Soji Adejumo, on the topic: ‘Insecurity and Banditry in Yorubaland and Implications for Food Security,’ in the South West, he revealed that studies have shown that South West consume 10,600 cows on daily. According to the breakdown that he gave, 6,000 cows are being slaughtered in Lagos everyday, while he puts the figures at 1,800 cows in Oyo State, 400 cows in Ekiti, 800 cows in Osun, 1,000 cows in Ogun and 600 cows in Ondo. He stated further that if a cow is sold for an average of N120,000, it means South West consume cows that worth N1.3billion daily.
He also identified trade imbalance between the North and the South as one of the major factors causing insecurity in the country, adding that the goods being taken to the North from the South worth N100billion annually, while the goods being taken to the South from the North on yearly basis is N500billion. He, however, advised the Yoruba race to be united and invest in agriculture, especially cattle rearing.
Adejumo further noted that that South West is producing annually, 200million chickens, 60 million goats, 40 million sheep and 10million pigs. The North, he said, has been producing 20million cows yearly and this has created a lot of problems in the country. He, however, advocated a visionary leader like the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, for Yoruba race and that South West must collaborate to operate irrigation farming system.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Congress Committee Chairman, Mr. Sola Lawal, noted that the purpose of the congress was to scrutinise, interrogate and proffer lasting solutions the challenges facing Yoruba nation. He noted that the Yorubaland, of recent, witnessed disruption of peace, which you include kidnappings for ransom, maiming, raping of women, and destruction of economy facilities, especially on farms across Yoruba nation.