- Says strangers have taken over Southwest
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Thursday in Abuja said drums of war were sounding loud and clear in all parts of the country and appealed to the federal government to avert it now.
The royal father who gave this warning while answering questions from State House correspondents after holding a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, said baseless killings, banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery and insurgency in different parts of the country are sounds of war which he said must be quashed now before it degenerates into full-scale war.
He alleged that some strange elements had laid siege to all parts of the South-west and taken over its forests, pointing out that he had visited Buhari on behalf of other traditional rulers in the zone over the situation because the Yoruba don’t want war but prefer to work with the government to fish out the criminals.
However, he said the president shared the same view with them as he admonished politicians to tread softly to avoid calamity, disclosing that Buhari had issued directives to all heads of security agencies to visit all traditional institutions in South-west.
“I came to speak on behalf of other traditional rulers. The issue at hand in the South-west is real – 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. 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 for something good other than shouting war and anarchy. We don’t want that.
“We told the president that he is on the same page with us. Politicians should be careful not to throw 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 to visit all traditional institutions in the South-west.” he said
Furthermore, the monarch said all hands must be on deck to ensure that security agencies live up to their responsibilities by working hand in hand with the locals to fish out the bad eggs among them.
Insisting that the South-west wants to sustain the peace that had been the lots of its people over the years, Ooni warned against watching the situation deteriorate into a state of anarchy.
He expressed concern that given the gravity of insecurity ravaging the South-west, the youths, in view of their exuberance, can be tempted to take laws into their hands which he said the Yoruba do not want.
He also said Buhari told him that in due time he would tell his own story of Ruga, a controversial cattle colony agenda that was recently suspended, saying the president lamented that the issue was misconstrued and hence, the necessity to tell his own side of the story.
Ooni reiterated that the insecurity bedeviling Nigeria at the moment needs to be handled with caution to avert dire consequences.
“We shouldn’t keep over hyping it and say what is next is war. No. We know what Mr. President has been saying about the South-western part of the country for a long time – the peace and peaceful co-existence in the South West. We still want to keep that. We don’t want any war to happen. We don’t want any attrition. We don’t want any anarchy. So, that is the reason why I came to discuss with him.
“Another thing that he assured me before leaving, which I will go and give back to much more experienced traditional rulers in the South-west and our leaders across board is that he has assured that he will say his own side of the story about Ruga because he wants to let the world and Nigerians in particular know the true side of the story because it’s being read out of context. So, we should give him that opportunity to speak on his behalf as the number one citizen of the country.
“What is important for me is the exuberant nature of our youths in Nigeria, for them not to take laws into their hands, go into all those places and start to kill and maim. We don’t want that.. The drums of war is resonating too much and we are very worried,” he said.
Ooni also explained that when he said earlier that his people should defend themselves, he meant that the South-west region needed the federal government’s presence to help guarantee the people’s protection.
He insisted that he was in the State House in pursuit of that call for self-defence, insisting that the South-west needs a reinforcement of security forces to defend the people.
“I mentioned to you that it is real we have wrong people in our midst so when we have wrong people in our midst how are we not going to defend ourselves, that is why I came here that in terms of defending ourselves, we need more federal government apparatus to defend ourselves because we don’t want to be defenceless, it is very important. It is about the mission of defending ourselves that I am here, we need reinforcement from federal government and I just mentioned to you that the President has said he will give directives to the IG to go and see every nooks and crannies of our traditional institutions in South West and that would probably extend across the entire country because he mentioned to me that he worked in North East and North Central discussing and working with the traditional institutions.
“So for us to defend ourselves is for me to come here to meet Mr. President for us to have reinforcement. We understand our territory more than anybody. We understand our territory very well. What is important is that everybody in the South West right now, we are all on the same page. We don’t want war and we want to work with Government to defend our land,” he added.
Ooni also explained that the campaign against insecurity was not synonymous with perceived stigmatisation of the Fulani race, noting that it is not all Fulani that are bad but the campaign is about the necessity to fish out the bad eggs in the race whose nefarious activities, he said, soil the good name of the Fulani.
He restated the preparedness of the Yoruba to collaborate with the federal government to nip the matter in the bud by deploying security apparatus of the government to combat the menace of insecurity.
“Well it is not about stigmatisation. It is about separating the corn from the chaff. A lot of them are mixed up with the good ones. We are not saying all Fulanis are bad. It is not only about the Fulanis. It’s not only about them. It’s about the bad miscreants that are even hiding under the name of Fulanis.
“We want to try as much as possible to work with the government right now. They have all the security apparatus. 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 see a lot of results going forward.