Residents of the South-west expressed relief and wholesomely welcomed the sacking of bandits from the zone which has been plunged into an orgy of violence by marauding bandits and criminal Herdsmen.
The South-west comprises five states, namely: Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Ondo and Ekiti states. With the lone exception of Lagos state, the rest of the states have felt the harsh reality of insecurity.
Kidnappings, rape of local women, destruction of farmlands, and cold blooded murder, became the order of the day as bandits ransacked the region. The rising rate of insecurity gave birth to the South-west security network codenamed Amotekun.
Just as the various states launched and equipped Amotekun, the bandits kept having a field day. While many had expected the new security outfit to be fortified with local traditional charms as was in the case of the Agbekoya in the 1960s, the governors seemed to have a different idea as recruited personnel of the new security network were trained in modern methods of community policing.
This may be why when Sunday Igboho, a renowned fighter of the traditional mould, angrily launched an offensive against the Fulani in his local government area, Ibarapa, which had witnessed its fair share of banditry, the people welcomed him.
However, elders advised caution. The Ooni of Ife, one of the region’s most respected traditional rulers outrightly condemned Igboho’s pronouncements for the Fulani to leave the land. Some other elders were of the opinion that such an order may get out of control.
Oyo state governor Engr. Seyi Makinde, who until then was seen as the ‘Starboy’ of the South-west due to his achievements in other areas of development, suddenly found himself faced with insurrection. Igboho’s order without recourse to constituted authority, which is the governor, has been translated in many quarters as a challenge of the governor’s authority.
While many felt that the governor had not been able to deliver on security, other men of foresight warned that there cannot be two parallel governments in a state. Igboho went ahead and expelled the Fulani from Ibarapa, including the Sarki Fulani of the town.
As forewarned by the elders, the crises have spread to other areas of Oyo and indeed other parts of the South-west. A market at Akinyele local government area, Shasha Market, became the next spot for violent protest. Northerners who had lived in peace with the people of the town were targeted after an alleged skirmish between a Hausa man and a Yoruba lady.
These are not the best of times for Governor Makinde. What surprises many however is the fact that while Oyo state is embroiled in crises, the governor who is the only PDP governor in the zone, seems to be on his own.
The national leadership of the party and other South-west governors have not openly condemned the crises nor visited Makinde to commensurate with him. The ‘Starboy’ seems a lone soldier fighting invisible entities. Many have wondered why the PDP has not issued a statement on the imbroglio in Oyo state.
The governor in a state-wide broadcast advised his people not to be swayed by detractors on social media who he believes are politically motivated to cause crises in the state.
“It is time to put Oyo state first. Individuals stoking ethnic flares in Oyo state through utterances or social media posts are enemies of our state. People leveraging on this unfortunate event to further their political ambitions are not our friends,” he said.
With this statement, it can be interpreted that Makinde believes that there are people fuelling an already volatile situation. Who are these people? With the silence from the PDP national body, Nigerians are curious.
Makinde has been at loggerheads with the former governor of Ekiti state, Ayodel Fayose, over the leadership of the party and the nomination of Dr. Eddy Oyefeso as the zonal chairman of the party.
Fayose in an interview had blamed Makinde for not properly handling the crises. He said on Channels TV: “Be proactive, borrow from us, we are Generals in this field.”
Reacting to this statement, an Ibadan resident and Makinde’s supporter, Tunde Oyetunde, wondered how many wars of such magnitude Fayose has fought, stating, “It is funny that Ayo Fayose is referring to himself as a General at a time when Generals are needed on the front.
“Should he be on TV telling the world that the governor has failed or extend a hand to help the governor at such a trying time? By the way, what war has Fayose fought? As far as I am concerned, all he ever fought for was his seat in government and his now and then criticism of the President.
“He cannot in all fairness compare that to the crises currently going on in Oyo state. If he has no better advice, it is better for him to keep quiet and not rub salt into injury.”
Oyetunde believes that Makinde has handled the situation well, noting: “Our governor has done very well. We know what would have happened if he had not spoken out against Sunday Igboho’s pronouncements and the forceful and illegal ejection of Fulani. What we saw in Shasha over a slight disagreement could have escalated into full blown ethnic crises. Now, there is peace, after the curfew was announced.
“We have lived with our northern neighbours for years and we have never had any problems. I would advise all influential men in the South-west, including Fayose, to join hands in containing the crises now. This is not the time for politicking.”
On Tuesday, some northern governors paid a visit to Oyo state. They include the Kebbi state governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu; Abdulahi Ganduje of Kano state; Bello Matawalle of Zamfara and Abubakar Sanni of Niger states. Many are asking, where are the southern governors and more especially the national chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus?
While Makinde has been seemingly left alone to fight his battle by his party and is being castigated in the social media, a concerned Yoruba indigene, Oyeronke Bolajoko Akinlolu, believes that Makinde is going through the present trials because he has no godfather.
“It is only Nigerian masses that fight for political names and for politicians. To the big men, they don’t look at party names, they are friends, and they discuss in a mature manner and find solutions. The problem of Nigeria is beyond what we discuss on social media.
“What we really see in Oyo state is that the governor doesn’t have a godfather, so he is fighting the battle of his life with people that are claiming they are the ones that made him to win; forgetting that we all put our hands on deck to make sure APC didn’t win Oyo state.
“Now, some PDP leaders are romancing the APC, going to bow for Tinubu just because of money. The insecurity in Oyo state is not funny; all those opposing the governor are looking for impeachment or state of emergency to be declared in the state, for their own pecuniary interests and political gains,” she said.
Once upon a time, not too long ago, Makinde with a retinue of achievements was the pride of the PDP. What has happened between the governor and his party? Can the ‘Starboy’ shine again? Can the PDP afford to jeopardise the only governor the party has in the South-west by not supporting him now?
Danisa writes from Abuja