Facts have emerged on the rationale behind the lukewarm disposition of governors in the South-West geo-political zone towards the damning security challenges in the region, especially the aggression of suspected herdsmen.
DAILY POST gathered through investigation that governors in the zone might not take any definite step in response to criminality going on in their domains mainly because of covert political considerations and interests.
A reliable source in the region, who did not want to be quoted revealed that the consensus among the governors in the South West on the need to play to the gallery and tactically put any decisive action on hold was predicated on the political predicament of the former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose.
It was learnt that majority of Northern political elites were seriously embittered in the manner in which Fayose stood his ground against open grazing in the state and the attendant security arrangement put in place to enforce the law against the act of moving cattle around.
“President Muhammadu Buhari and his fellow Fulani elite considered Fayose’s courage and resistance against open grazing in Ekiti then as an affront to their ethnic and economic interest. They also nurtured the fear that such decisive action could raise the consciousness of other governors in the South against Fulani herdsmen.
” That was the main reason the presidency gave massive supports to Governor Kayode Fayemi against Fayose’s anointed candidate, with huge resources and state apparatus. Let me tell you this, there is no way Fayose could have won that election for Eleka, the battle was beyond him, he was unknowingly battling with a strong political bloc led by the presidency.
“The victory of this cabal in Ekiti apparently sent a profound warning to governors in the region with regards to the issue of Fulani herdsmen and their incessant criminal activities. The governors get security reports on daily basis on the degenerated security situation in their states. There were suggestions from stakeholders in the region on better ways to tackle the menace, but these governors will continue to play politics and do nothing about it”.
Tinubu’s 2023 ambition as a factor
While the former governor of Lagos State and National leader of the All Progressive Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Hameed Tinubu has not come out clearly to confirm his interest to contest for president in 2023, he has rather not outrightly denied the perception in different quarters that he is scheming and scrambling to become Nigeria’s first citizen.
Meanwhile, a member of inner caucus of APC, who is also a leading strategist for the party in Ogun State confided in our correspondent on
condition of anonymity and disclosed that Tinubu is more than desperate to succeed Buhari in 2023.
He added that Tinubu, having realised the intensity of support Buhari enjoys in the core North, coupled with the voting strength of the region and the culture of power of incumbency in Nigeria, he considered the President as a major determinant in realising his presidential ambition.
The source confirmed that the former Lagos State governor met with the five APC governors from the region immediately after May 29 to warn them against any activity that could jeopardize his existing relationship with President Buhari.
According to the source, Tinubu specifically mentioned the issue of Fulani activities in the South West and said the President is highly interested in the ” welfare of his kinsmen and would not be happy if any unwholesome thing happens to them and their cattle “.
He further revealed that despite the concerns raised by some of the governors over the alarming rate of insecurity in their states and the consistent allegations against herders of Fulani extraction, the consensus reached was that there is need to step down action on the issue and play along.
Allegations on RUGA funds
Another factor DAILY POST learnt was responsible for silence and inaction of governors of the South West is that the Federal government had indeed mobilised them with millions of dollars in preparation for the implementation of “autonomous Fulani settlements” popularly known as RUGA in the region.
The Executive Director of Gateway Tower, a socio-cultural organisation in Ogun State, Comrade Olabode Adigun said there were indications that governors from the South West have been compromised with huge amount of money to acquire expanse of lands in their domains for the implementation of RUGA.
“We authoritatively gathered that the idea of RUGA has been on for a long time and that the major target of the presidency and some Northern elite is the South West because of its forest belt nature and relative stability in the region.
“In a desperate move to protect his kinsmen and aid their expansionist tendencies, President Buhari had contacted a leading member of APC, who is from the region to make this possible and through him settled the governors.
“The public outcry against the idea, however, halted the plan, although that would still not make them to act and flush out killer herdsmen in their states”, Adigun said.
South-West security summit, a ruse?
A civil society organisation, Advocacy for Advancement of Peace and Harmony in Africa Initiative, ADAPHAI has described a security summit organised by South West governors between June 25 and 26 as nothing but a jamboree and “a mere window dressing of insignificant prognosis “.
The National Coordinator of the organisation, Comrade Sulaimon Suberu in a chat with our Correspondent dismissed the summit as an assemblage of clowns and pretenders, who have no intention to do anything concerning the present threat posed by suspected Fulani herders to the region other than playing politics.
He maintained that the present security challenges facing the region have gone beyond rhetorics but a proactive measure to put an immediate stop to this scourge and protect the people and the region, saying governors of the region are not doing enough.
Suberu alleged that there is a conspiracy between the Buhari – led administration and governors in the zone, which according to him made them to move with a speed of snail and remain insensitive to the plights of the common people.
“I was not surprised with what Bola Tinubu said recently in Ondo during his visit to Pa Fasoranti over his daughter’s death in the hands of suspected Fulani herdsmen, where he was quoted defending Fulani herdsmen with a lame polemics.
“I know for sure that his host, governor Rotimi Akeredolu must have hinted him on how Fulani herdsmen held his convoy to ransom for close to 45 minutes along Ilesa-Akure road but decided to say what his friends and cohorts wanted to hear in Aso rock, I really pity the region for celebrating character like this as leader.
“It was the former Prime Minister of Philippines, Gloria Aroyo, who once said that one of the greatest litmus test of a good leader is ability to be at the forefront leading, at the middle inspiring, and at the back defending the interest of his followers, but in this case, the reverse is the case “.
Meanwhile, the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land, who also doubles as the head of Odua People’s Congress, Iba Gani Adams has exposed the hypocrisy of South West governors during the said security summit.
He flayed them for ignoring his letters and calls to take proactive steps in checking the excesses of rampaging herdsmen before it degenerated to the level where innocent people were being killed and abducted in the region.
Point blankly, he called the governors by their names and explained how he made attempts to call their attention to the menace of the cattle breeders.
He said: “Nobody can take Yoruba land or constitute nuisance in South-west because Yoruba have been living peacefully for the past 120 years, so the incursion of criminally minded people will no longer be accepted.
“History will not forgive any south-west governor that gives land to herdsmen for the breeding of their cattle because the issue of insecurity is now overwhelming.
“We are not only talking about south-west alone, we are talking about everywhere Yoruba live, including Kogi and Kwara states. All hands must be on deck to curb insecurity because the progress of Yoruba land should be a collective effort of all of us.”
Other stakeholders react
The Head of Harmonised Vigilante Group in the South West, Alhaji Rilwan Hussein Yahasalam has called on governors of the South-West states to be vigilant and proactive in the face of damning security breaches in the region.
He said the state of kidnappings and banditry presently in all the states that make up the political zone requires utmost vigilance and quick action.
Yahasalam, in a statement made available to newsmen recently expressed concern over the general insecurity around the country and recent security threat in the South West.
He said the incessant cases of criminality in many communities of the region, which often attribute to Fulani herdsmen indicate that there is new dimension to the security architecture of the region, which must be taken seriously to avert terrible occurrence.
According to him, the recent cases of abduction and violent robbery on highways within the South West have practically instil fear in many people, especially businesswomen and men, including farmers, who have almost abandoned their farms for the fear of being kidnapped or maimed by suspected Fulani herders.
“We are having serious security situation at hand, our communities are no more safe due to criminal activities of bandits and kidnappers suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
“The hitherto sleepy and peaceful region is now gradually becoming volatile and delicate, while political leaders in the region pretend as if nothing is happening.
“It is not in doubt that things might get worse if political leaders in the region continue to maintain this attitude and fail to act fast, the situation is indeed degenerating.
“A professor at Obafemi Awolowo University, who was abducted recently along Ife-Ibadan road specifically mentioned Fulani herdsmen as his abductors, in which over N5m was collected as ransom.
“It is the in the same route that two officials of Federal Road Safety Corps were kidnapped and ransomed paid before they could secure their release.
“It was also reported that over 30 armed herdsmen on Sunday blocked the section of Ilesa-Akure express road at Erinle, shooting sporadically until security operatives in the convoy of one of the governors in the region came to dislodge them.
” It is disheartening that all these are happening in the zone and no single arrest has been made. This issue is seriously affecting the socio-economic life of the people in the region, and a great danger for the country at large “, the statement read.
Yahasalam, however, added that although the Police and other security agencies are making efforts to nip the situation in the bud, there is need for collaborative efforts towards fighting crime from other non-state actors, especially local vigilante groups.
He recalled how such state of insecurity surfaced in the 90s and early 2000, in which the intervention of his group, in collaboration with security agencies eventually curbed the menace.
“We have had a situation similar to this in the past, where suspected Fulani herdsmen were waylaying people along Gbongan-Ibadan road, it was the concerted efforts of Police and our group that put stop to that criminality.
“So, now that there is a new dimension to security breach in the region, with more sophistication in their operation, the government must look inward to tackle the current challenge with more vigour”.
In the same vein, a retired military personnel, Major Ishola Adelegan has berated governors in the region for degenerated security situation in the zone. He argued that not much has been achieved by the helmsmen in the area of securing the zone.
Adelegan frowned at what he called ” long rhetorics with short substance”, saying the governors must learn to speak less and act more.
“I was taken aback when I heard the OAU professor speaking on how he was abducted and the identities of his abductors, with level of their sophistication and gut.
“Cases abound on how these criminal elements have subjected our people to inhumane treatment and bestial condition, yet some lunatics are busy defending them for obvious selfish political interest.
“I wonder how a sane leader will listen to what the professor said and other tales of horrors going on in the region, with the latest gruesome murder of Mrs Funke Olakunrin, the Afenifere leader’s daughter and still have the boldness to defend such criminality.
“It is my hope that governors in the region will act fast and put every political consideration aside before it is too late “, he resorted.