By Abimbola Adelakun
This is, undoubtedly, a difficult time for Afenifere leader, Baba Reuben Fasoranti. He has suffered a grievous loss of his daughter, Funke Olakunrin, in untoward circumstances. The loss of one’s child is a painful and traumatic experience. My prayer for him and his family is to find strength at this trying time.
Now, the death of Mrs Olakunrin is bad enough; the politicisation of the grief is grossly unfair to the family of the deceased. We have always known that some of our leaders have bad manners, but this incident has further exposed them as lacking the ethic of charity. When the news of the death was first announced, the President’s media aide, Femi Adesina, hastily jumped on Twitter to say her killers were “those described as armed robbers by Ondo State Police Command.” Adesina cared little about the deceased; his obsession about roughening up the narrative was to preempt people’s angst that would be directed at his paymasters. If he cared about the poor woman and he respected the Fasoranti family, he would have hesitated and not tried to stuff words in the mouth of the police. The bereaved family not only have to contend with their pain, they also have to deal with the irritation of their daughter’s name being evoked each time we bring up the petty politics of shameless politicians who are using the sad incident to burnish their credentials as bona fide national leaders.
One of these Job’s comforters is the All Progressives Congress leader and former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, who answered some journalists’ questions during his visit to the Fasoranti family. First, he downplayed the circumstances of Olakunrin’s death by suggesting that she could have died in a road accident if it was duly fated. This line of reasoning is about one of the most uncharitable things one can say to the hearing of a bereaved family and, frankly, unbecoming of someone who wears the label of an elder. Such misspeaks bolster my conviction that the withdrawal of the permanent pass that some folk have awarded themselves as Yoruba leaders is long overdue for withdrawal. However manner Olakunrin might have died, the fact remains that she was killed and allegedly by herdsmen. To even overlook the circumstances of her death, sidestep the tense reactions by the exasperated populace, and begin to meander logic through bush paths is moral cowardice.
For a while now, Nigeria has been in a difficult situation because of the activities of killer herdsmen. Mind you, these herdsmen have been labelled as the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world by the Global Terrorism Index. They have carried out massacres in rural and agrarian communities, and have been emboldened enough by the slackness of state security forces to move into urban settings. Tinubu only needs to go to rural areas in southwestern Nigeria, and his ears will be filled with stories of assault, kidnapping, and vicious murder. People are no longer at ease. They have lost their lives and entire investments in farming to the herdsmen menace. Those that have survived deadly encounters live in fear of the herdsmen. The fact that death is cheap in Nigeria does not mean we should refuse to label an issue for what it is. There is a context to the suspicion that Olakunrin might have been killed by herdsmen; why try to obfuscate matters by pointing out other ways she could have died? Why not just tell the bereaved you are sorry and go home?
The herdsmen nuisance got to the point that Adesina told Benue people to yield their land to their killers or continue to lose their lives. How can anyone look at all of these stories – including the “your land or your life” propositions to the poor hapless and undefended Nigerians – and merely shrug and say death could have come by a road accident anyway? We all know death is inevitable, but nobody throws their life outside the window for the fun of it. Otherwise, why does Tinubu himself travel with an armed escort and in a bulletproof vehicle too? Why can he not test his fate by stripping himself of the paraphernalia of defence and let’s see what happens?
While responding to the press, Tinubu tried to deflect, engaged in a rhetorical strategy called ‘whataboutism’ for no other discernable reason than not wanting to address the hippopotamus on his laps. The question at hand was the issue of insecurity – the kidnappings and killings by herdsmen – but somehow, he managed to drag in another issue entirely when he alluded to the alleged kidnapper, Evans, who was arrested a while ago. What has Evans’ kidnapping career got to do with herdsmen who did not even start their crimes with kidnapping but massacres and displacement of poor villagers whose farms they raided? Why stop at Evans when he could equally have raised other issues such as Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo’s pending lawsuit and even climate change? He even threatened to give us a history of kidnapping to show us that what we are presently dealing with is an imitation of the criminal proclivity of southerners.
All of the above bring me to the point that baffled me most and which summarises all of the rhetorical acrobatics he did at the Fasoranti’s house: the needless defence of the Fulani by Tinubu. By now, everyone would have noticed that the most strident defence of the Fulani over the herdsmen issue has come from southerners, particularly the Yoruba. On the question of whether the Fulani deserve the stereotype of cold-blooded killers or not, the Yoruba people have wept louder than the bereaved. The Fulani themselves are an ethnic group with enough power to take over the media in their own defence, but they do not do so. Today, the Fulani are resented, and not just because of the herdsmen issue but also because of the clannishness and tribalism of President Muhammadu Buhari who has more or less driven collective benefits in the direction of a selected class. Why have they not refuted the narrative about them, considering that they have the necessary clout to challenge the demonising of their ethnic identity? They can use the airwaves and other media forms to vehemently denounce the herdsmen who attack undefended populations. They can rebuke Miyetti Allah group over their inflammatory statements, and also condemn the actions of reprobate groups such as the Coalition of Northern Groups who gave governors a 30-day ultimatum to enforce RUGA and students of Usman Dan Fodio University who insisted that RUGA must be established in all the 36 states of Nigeria.
They are so many crisis-management strategies the Fulani ethnic group can deploy to manage their image being battered all over Nigeria because of the spate of herdsmen attacks. If the Fulani themselves are not engaged in activities to refurbish their image, it is because they are too self-secure in their political power and privileges to be bothered about the long-term implications of ethnic stigmatisation. They probably also do not concern themselves so much with pushing back against stereotypes because their lackeys in the South run those errands on their behalf.
Tinubu, in rounding off the interview, made a rather curious statement cum question, “I don’t want to be political, but I will ask, where are the cows?” If by that he means that the crime of murder could not have been committed by herdsmen because there were no cows at the crime scene, it means he has reached the end of reasoning. I do not want to be political either, but the question of where the cows are has already been answered by none other than Tinubu himself. The cows are everywhere. If some people look into their mirror, they will find those cows staring back at them in all their bovine glory.
1,459 total views, 6 views today
Don’t Return Rivers To Dark Days Of Fear, Intimidation, Abe Tells Wike
The 2023 governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, in Rivers State, Senator Magnus Abe, has urged the state governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike not to return the state to the dark era of fear and intimidation in the forthcoming general elections.
He also asked other politicians in the state to eschew politics of bitterness and antagonism that would portray the state in a bad light.
Abe made these declarations when members of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Forum and Middle Belt Forum who are residents in the state paid him a solidarity visit in PortHarcourt, Rivers State capital.
But the former lawmaker’s reaction followed Wike’s state broadcast last weekend where he expressed fears and reservations about politicians allegedly meeting cultists in Hotels, bars, resorts and other entertainment centres to wreak havoc in the state.
In his words, “I was particularly disturbed when I saw the name of my party the Social Democratic Party- (SDP) mentioned in that broadcast.
“My own concern and prayer is that this election cannot return Rivers State to the old place of fear, to the old place of challenges and crisis that we used to have in previous elections.
“I want to appeal to His Excellency, that he is our Governor, whether we are members of SDP, APC, PDP or whatever political parties we belong to; we are all Rivers men and women and our objective is to choose a leader for our people that will carry us forward, not to bring cultists and fight one another.”
However, Abe suggested a security summit, where all political leaders would be invited to share their ideas on how to have peaceful elections before, during and after the 2023 elections in the state.
“If there are genuine concerns about security in the state, I will expect the governor as a friend and father of the State, to call all of us to sit down together and share ideas on how to go forward into this election in a peaceful, convivial atmosphere in which everybody will be free to participate.
“Whether the governor likes it or not, it is the responsibility of the governor to provide a peaceful and conducive atmosphere for all for all of us and I will plead that we come together and talk to one another”.
“I will appeal to my fellow politicians, the governor has expressed his security concerns, let us not begin to attack one another on the basis of that, instead let us sit down and look for solutions that will enable us cross these challenges without hitches.
“Our state will be peaceful. I believed that Rivers people know that without peace there can be no progress, without peace, there can be no prosperity, without peace, there is no future”.
But Leader of the group, Samuel Adamu said they came to pledge their support to Senator Abe and to assure him that they would galvanize the support of all their members for him in the 2023 general elections.
17 total views, 17 views today
It’s Impossible For FG To Borrow N1.1trn To Meet ASUU’s Demand, Says Umahi
Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State says the Nigerian government cannot borrow N1.1 trillion to meet the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) who have been on strike for over five months.
The Chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum said this on Wednesday when he received a delegation from the Nigeria Police Trust Fund led by Dr. Ben Akabueze, in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi capital.
“There is no way Nigeria will go and borrow N1.1tn to meet ASUU’s demand, it’s quite unreasonable. Are their demands genuine? Yes. But we can start little by little,” the governor said.
“There must be a commitment on the side of both parties that look, ‘ASUU is not asking for this to take to their houses’ so to say. It’s asking for it for our children, to better the infrastructure, to better the lecturers and the students. Yes, but we can start with a fraction of that and then have a programme that will run on the platform of sincerity to address all the lots.”
He also called on varsities lecturers to show some level of understanding so the strike can end.
“So, it is important for ASUU to show some understanding and for those who are negotiating on the side of government to also show some understanding,” he added.
“Let’s meet ourselves halfway and then open the schools to save the fate of our children.”
The governor, who equally faulted the poor maintenance culture in the country, added that there is a need to work on it.
“But let me also say that most of the time, our people have a low appetite for maintenance of public works,” Umahi said.
“No matter how much you deploy to these universities unless the users and the industry regulators begin to treat public infrastructure as their own in the various universities, it will continue to go bad.
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Osun APC Crisis: We’re Ready For Reconciliation, Says Aregbesola Camp
Members of the All Progressives Congress in Osun State loyal to the Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, have said they are ready for reconciliation to end the crisis rocking the party in the state.
APC lost the recently concluded governorship election in the state to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a defeat many attributed to the internal crisis rocking the party in the state.
The PDP governorship candidate, Ademola Adeleke scored 403,371 votes to defeat the APC candidate, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, who polled 375,027 votes.
The factional Chairman of the party, Alhaji Rasaq Salinsile, said Aregbesola met the National Chairman of the party, Abdullahi Adamu, for reconciliation before the July 16 election but Oyetola delayed it untill the party lost the election.
He said Aregbesola’s supporters under the auspices of The Osun Progressives (TOP) voted for Oyetola in the election as against the claim that they aided Adeleke’s victory.
Salinsile said Oyetola and the party chairman in the state, Prince Gboyega Famodun, cheaply delivered victory to the PDP in the July 16 governorship election.
According to Salinsile, Oyetola and Famodun’s responsiveness and impunity on party issues led to total collapse of the APC’s winning structures and the eventual loss of the poll.
He said, “Let me quickly note that they are up at harms to finish Osun APC with an instruction to ward chairmen to start suspension of members of TOP from the APC
“Towards 2022 election, the party got divided into two with the former and incumbent governors leading the two caucuses. Famodun felt so comfortable to side with one of them and make the enemy of the other because of lucre-immediate gain.
“Then we went to the election and lost scandalously, even in our traditional safe constituencies and he started looking for a scapegoat. Famodun is to be told that he is an original failure.
“The TOP which Famodun is trying to blame had offered to help him in resolving the matters that is affecting the party but his penchant for avarice, greed and corruption will not allow him to see reason.
“May we ask Famodun, is it the TOP leaders and members who he described as rebels, insignificant, not popular at home, not core politicians, etc that suddenly, in his warped thinking, become strong enough to win an election against him and his almighty government?
“It is only a warped and a heretical thinking that has brought Famodun to that inebriated conclusion. Was it TOP that made Famodun and other cabinet members lose in their various wards and local governments?
“We take Boluwaduro local government for particular example, with very small voters registration but with Famodun, three cabinet members and head of a powerful agency in town, the APC lost. Could that be the work of TOP? For those who operate a bad system, they will never see anything wrong in it until it crashes.
“Putting a lie to Famodun’s allegation are tones of abuses and curses that are placed on the leadership of Governor Oyetola and kitchen cabinet by members of the Ileri-Oluwa camp who felt let down by the outcome of the election and the flippant manners their advice to resolve the obvious crisis in the party were treated.
“The contents of those voice notes should be more than enough for modest and reasonable person to bury their heads in shame.”
Salinsile said both Oyetola and Famodun are responsible for the defeat suffered by the APC in the governorship election.
“The duo of Governor Oyetola and Prince Famodun have definitely fulfilled their wishful mission to bring APC down in Osun.
“The National Secretariat has a duty not to wait any longer. The wall of Jericho has fallen with Famodun’s confession and Osun APC should undergo immediate re-organisation, rebooting, re-energising for greater future performances,” said Salinsile.
But Famodun said Aregbesola and his supporters lacked moral ground to still consider themselves as APC members.
He added that committees had been set up at ward level to investigate their action and discipline them accordingly.
He lamented that Aregbesola and his supporters scuttled the chance of APC in the election because of their anti-party activities, saying that they worked for PDP candidate against Oyetola.
823 total views, 523 views today
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