The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, on Thursday called for the tightening of security in the South-West by the Federal Government amid the increasing attacks by herdsmen on communities in the geopolitical zone lately.
He noted that while not all Fulani herdsmen were involved in the attacks, it was the wish of Yoruba monarchs and their subjects that the Federal Government in collaboration with local communities, should fish out the “bad eggs” among the herdsmen.
The Ooni stated that the escalating security challenges in the country had led to some persons and groups beating the drums of war.
However, he clarified that the South-West was not ready to go to war with any part of the country.
The paramount ruler disclosed that it was the desire of the Yoruba to see improved security over lives and property, a responsibility he said was not impossible for the Federal Government to undertake.
The Ooni, who spoke with State House Correspondents after he held a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said he came to the State House on behalf of royal fathers in the South-West to make a case for improved security.
His visit came just a week after the late Mrs Funke Olakunri, the daughter of the Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, was killed by suspected herdsmen along the Kajola-Ore Road in Ondo State.
Speaking on whether he thought the Fulani were being stigmatised , the Yoruba paramount ruler said, “Well, it is not about stigmatisation; it is about separating the wheat from the chaff.
“A lot of them are mixed up with the good ones. We are not saying all the Fulani are bad. It is not only about the Fulani, it is not only about them; it is about the bad miscreants that are even hiding under the name of the Fulani.
“We want to try as much as possible to work with the government right now. They have all the security apparatus and they are meant to defend us; that is what we are looking up to now. We have to stand up and meet with Mr President and he has given us a listening ear and you (will) see a lot of result going forward.”
Responding to a question on the purpose of his visit, Ogunwusi said, “(It was on) how to improve security. I came to speak on behalf of other traditional rulers. The issue at hand in the South-West is real. The issue of insecurity; we that live in the remote and rural areas of the south-western part of the country, most of the bushes are occupied by strange people and we decided to work with the government to fish them out.
“Everybody is beating the drum of war; we don’t want war. Who can stand war? We want something better for our youths.
“We should better use them (youths) for something good other than shouting war and anarchy. We don’t want that.
“We told the President that and he is on the same page with us. Politicians should be careful not to blow things out of proportion.
“We should make sure things are right and the President has given good directives to security chiefs including the Inspector-General of Police (Mohammed Adamu), to visit all traditional institutions in the South-West.”
The monarch canvassed efficient policing and intelligence gathering that involved using the locals to help fish out strange elements in the various communities.
Opposing a resort to war at this point, he said, “We shouldn’t keep over-hyping war and we still want to keep the peace in the South-West. We don’t want anarchy.”
Ogunwusi also noted that the controversial Ruga scheme appeared to have been given different interpretations, saying that Buhari did the right thing by intervening to ease the growing tension in Nigeria over the initiative.
He added that overall, what was of utmost importance to the people of the South-West was maximum security.
“What is important is for the youth not to take the law into their own hands, killing and causing violence. The drum of war is resonating loud and we are very worried.
“We need more federal apparatus to defend ourselves. We need security reinforcement from the Federal Government. We understand more than anybody. We don’t want war and we want to work with government to bring peace.
“We are not saying all Fulani are bad; it is about the bad guys working under the name of the Fulani,” the monarch further stated.
Leaders shouldn’t keep silent on insecurity – Jonathan
Just as the Ooni was saying this, former President Goodluck Jonathan also called on all leaders to speak out whenever things were going wrong in the country.
Recall that Buhari had a few days ago advised leaders to watch their utterances, saying those criticising his administration handling of insecurity were not patriotic.
But Jonathan on Thursday said leaders should come together and proffer solutions to insecurity in the country.
He said insecurity appeared from time to time, but noted that leaders must come together for a conversation that would end attacks on defenceless citizens.
Jonathan said this in Abuja during the public presentation of a book, “Not By Might Nor By Power: Selected messages to the world,” an autobiography written by the Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, who would retire next year.
“We must get the country out of insecurity,” he said at the event which brought together eminent Nigerians including a former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd.).
But in an interview with journalists on the sidelines of the event, Jonathan said every generation had challenges, adding that leaders must come together to address the menace.
He said, “If things are wrong, leaders, including me, should be talking. And there are a lot of conversations going on to solve this problem (of insecurity); every generation has its problems. In fact, my generation is almost gone. It’s for your generation and we must all come together to solve the problem.
“The security challenges have been with us for long, but we know that whatever the challenges are, we must come together and address them. The political leaders in the country and traditional leaders are talking. And we must get the country out of insecurity.”
Okoh cautioned ethnic groups forming their own militias to retrace their steps and stop the killings in the country.
He said, “I have no solution because I am an individual. But we should try to ask the appropriate authorities to do what they should do, and that is the government.
“I strongly believe that individuals should not take security initiative because if individuals take their own security initiatives, I mean organising our own militias, the country will be destroyed. Everybody will perish.
“But the government which has the constitutional responsibility to maintain security should do so and quickly too before it gets out of hand. That is my appeal.”
Also, the Primate advised young pastors not to be in a hurry, adding that what he observed was that many of them were in a hurry to be noticed.
“If you are with God, hear from God before you speak. Don’t resort to your imagination and say, ‘God has said’; make sure you receive a message from God and you are in tune with Him (God).”
According to him, the Nicholas Okoh Foundation will help him in ministry even after leaving as Primate in 2020.
“I want to continue with my work as a man of God. The book is about yearly situations and the solutions I provided. At this point, I decided that the two volumes should be published. There are other books unpublished. There is a gap between what we think and what we do. We want our children and those following us to know that we have not arrived. We must back it up with moral integrity,” Okoh added
We won’t leave S’West – Oyo MACBAN
Meanwhile, the Northern Elders’ Forum’s directive to herdsmen in the South to relocate to the North generated more reactions on Thursday.
For instance, the Assistant Secretary of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria in Oyo State, Mr Adams Abdulkadir, told one of our correspondents that the directive by NEF that Fulani herdsmen should leave the South was misguided.
He stated, “We don’t support the NEF’s directive and we will not heed it. We are not in agreement with the calls to return to the North.
“We have been living here in the South-West for decades and we work together with people of other ethnic groups especially the Yoruba in a peaceful and secure environment.”
We aren’t returning to North, Fulani in S’East reply NEF
Also, the Fulani community in the South-East on Thursday said they would not leave the South-East geopolitical zone. They asked the northern leaders to stop fanning the embers of discord.
The leader of the Fulani community in the South-East, Ardo Sardu Bardo, told The PUNCH on the telephone that the call for herdsmen to leave the South was irresponsible.
Bardo said that even the Fulani community in southern Nigeria, especially in the South-East did not support the Ruga programme of the Federal Government to be cited in the South- East.
On Ruga, Bardo said, “I don’t support that project. For instance, in Enugu State now this is farming session. If people are cultivating an area, let them allow our cattle go to the areas that the people are not cultivating. The Fulani in the South do not support Ruga.”
It negates Nigeria’s unity – Delta
Also, the Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Charlse Aniagwu, said the state government believed in the stability of Nigeria.
Aniagwu in an interview on Thursday, faulted NEF’s recall order to herdsmen in the South, saying, “If there are issues, it behoves on government to address those issues.”
However, the Cross River State Government through the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor Ben Ayade, Christian Ita, said, “We run a government that accommodates everybody. Cross River State has always been safe for everybody. I don’t know about herdsmen. I don’t know if there are herdsmen in Cross River. If they are being asked to go back we are not the ones asking them to go back. It is their people that are asking them to go back. It is within the right of the Northern Elders’ Forum to ask their people to go back.”
YCE lauds President Buhari on Ruga suspension
Meanwhile, the Yoruba Council of Elders has lauded Buhari for suspending the Ruga project.
The pan-Yoruba group made this commendation in Ibadan on Thursday at the end of its special meeting on the state of the nation.
The Secretary-General of the council, Dr Kunle Olajide, in an interview with journalists after a special meeting of the group, urged Buhari to do more to restore the full confidence of Nigerians in his administration.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the YCE expressed worry that the grazing routes of the pre-independence era and the First Republic had been wiped off and in most cases, taken over by housing estates.
The group said that the idea of nomadic grazing was no longer feasible because of the destruction of farmlands and crops by cattle led by herdsmen, which had impoverished the farmers.
It, therefore, urged the state legislature in the Yoruba speaking states to enact a law outlawing nomadic grazing in their respective states.
The council noted the palpable tension in the country arising from the frightening state of insecurity, which had now spread from the North-East and was gradually enveloping the whole country.
The group urged the President to heal the wounds in the polity by reassuring Nigerians of the safety of their lives with actions.
It urged Buhari to revisit the 2014 National Conference reports and the El-Rufai Committee Report on Devolution of Powers, advising him to send relevant bills to the National Assembly in that respect.
The council also advised him to study the report of the 2014 National Conference with a view to identifying the aspects of the document that could be implemented immediately for the security and unity of the county.
The elders, however, expressed shock by the gruesome murder of Mrs Funke Olakunri, the daughter of Chief Rueben Fasoranti, the Afenifere leader, describing it as one too many.
The council called on the South-West governors to embark on the deployment of technology to monitor forests in the zone so as to flush out criminals masquerading as herdsmen.
It assured the President of its support to build a truly egalitarian Federal Republic of Nigeria, where justice and progress would reign supreme.
Also, the YCE called on all Nigerians to avoid making inflammatory statements in this difficult time but to let their efforts and speeches unite the people, and ‘not to polarise them.’
Reps advise FG on vigilantes’ training
Also, the House of Representatives has urged the Federal Government to provide logistics to the Armed Forces to enable the military to engage and train local vigilantes in the fight against insurgency.
According to NAN, this followed a unanimous adoption of a motion by Haruna Mshelia (APC-Borno) at plenary on Thursday.
While moving the motion, Mshelia said the engagement with local vigilantes would assist in the final push to end insurgency in the North-East.
The lawmaker expressed concern that pockets of insurgency activities, including looting, kidnappings and killings still continued in spite of efforts of the Armed Forces.