LAST THURSDAY I went to bed early, hoping to rise up later in the night to scribble this but my phone rang at some minutes after 10.00pm and an old classmate broke the unsavoury news of the murder of Oba Adegoke Israel Adeusi, the Olufon of Ifon in Ose local government of Ondo State, by those he called Fulani herdsmen. The Kabiyesi, he said, was returning to his domain from a meeting of the “L’oba-l’obas” (Ondo State traditional council members) in Akure, the state capital.
Ifon is the capital of Ose Local Government; it used to be under Owo until it was carved out in 1989. Juju music maestro, Orlando Owo (Owoh), whose father, Owomeyela, hailed from Ifon, had, in one of his evergreen songs, cleared the confusion over his name – whether it is Orlando Owo or Orlando Owoh, saying either was okay by him since his mother (whom I knew personally) hailed from Owo while his father was Owomoyela (Owoh, for short).
Friday’s newspapers confirmed the murder of the Olufon. A day before, my classmate had sent me a Whatsapp message complaining about the worsening insecurity situation in Ondo State: the Owo-Benin axis especially, while the Akoko area; even Akure, the state capital, to anywhere have all become no-go areas as a result of the murderous activities of Fulani herdsmen/kidnappers. Just one month after the October 20, 2020 Ondo Governorship election when this old classmate of mine was all over the place rooting for Akeredolu for second term and savouring his eventual victory at the polls, that victory, he now regrets, has turned into ashes in his mouth.
His Whatsapp message went thus: “…I arrived at Owo this afternoon from my base: my brother, my experience on the road, particularly the Ifon -Owo axis, is frightening! Nearly every two kilometres, you see abandoned cars on the road. What I am recounting is an eye sore between Elegbeka and Omolege villages and other adjoining hamlets along the road. When I stopped to find out what was happening, I was told the owners of those cars and buses had been taken inside the forest where they are being held for ransom; otherwise, they are killed by the kidnappers if they cannot meet the demand for ransom payment. What baffles me most is that hundreds of our people are held hostage against their wishes and our government pretends as if nothing is happening. I did not come across any Amotekun patrol or police check points except two Army check points and what they do there is turn the checkpoints into toll gates; their collection ranges from #500 to #2,000. I brief you so you may help wake up the Ondo State Government to their responsibilities to secure life and property and help release the hapless people languishing in the forests under the illegal custody of Fulani herdsmen. Government should also help the victims remove their vehicles to a safer place. Fear overwhelmed me till I arrived at Owo. Kindly blow this open…”
This is from a man who, after Aketi’s victory, invited me to Owo to join the victory and celebration train. When he arrived at Aketi’s compound, he called again to ensure I joined him there. I actually wanted to make the 30-minute dash from Akure (where I worked at an FM station as a pundit on Election Day) to Owo, if not to celebrate but to see an old classmate I had not seen since we left Owo High School in 1974. My car that developed engine problems on Election Day aborted my plans and kept me marooned at Akure for another three days, where I enjoyed myself to the fullest as a guest of Remi Ibitola. Thanks, Remi!
On November 9, a senior of mine from the same Owo High School, now a pastor, alerting me to the kidnapping of 16 travellers along the Akure – Owo highway between Ogbese and Uso, forwarded this message: “Please join in interceding for my sister-in-law who was kidnapped along with others yesterday afternoon around Uso on her way to Owo from Lagos. The bandits are demanding a ransom of N100milion. Her name is Kemi”.
Another classmate and friend told me last week he hesitated severally before eventually deciding to travel from Owo to Akure to pursue the entitlements of his younger brother who died sometime ago because of heightened insecurity situation in the state. Ironically, this same chap, in December 2019 when I visited Owo for the funeral rites of a friend’s mother (Remember “Back to my roots”?), took me round some of Aketi’s road projects. Today, just one month after he worked his arse out for Aketi’s re-election and when the second term journey has not actually taken off the ground, he is crest-fallen.
Tell Aketi to watch it! The insecurity situation in Ondo State is no longer a child’s play; it is rapidly turning allies into foes. Fulani herdsmen were reported last week to have again entered Chief Olu Falae’s farm, destroying his crops. People are scared to travel in Ondo State because of kidnappers and bandits. Life is on the cheap in Ondo State. My classmate that I started this narration with described it with a metaphor that cannot be surpassed when he said kidnappers now pick up their victims as we children picked up “ipere” in our growing up years. I don’t know the English word for “ipere” but let me simply call it “baby snails”. Aketi will understand, being from Owo himself. Is that what the English call cherry-picking? My classmate said he has been unable to travel to Akungba-Akoko to finalise admission processes for his ward because of the insecurity situation. These days when you step out of your home in Ondo State to embark on a journey, two uncertainties confront you – whether you will get to your destination, and, if you do, whether you will get back home safely!
The conspiracy theory whirling in the wind is that the last election is responsible for the heightened state of insecurity in Ondo State. How? They said to curry the favour and support of the powers-that-be in Abuja, Aketi sold out on Amotekun. They say the Fulani and or the Abuja powers-that-be do not support you without castrating you to the bargain and that Aketi, in crouching for that support so he could get the APC ticket and, thereafter, muster the required support to win second term, abandoned his hitherto principled stand and stance on Amotekun and, by so doing, compromised the security of the good people of Ondo State. Akeredolu must respond to this. In words and in action! It is an allegation that has made the rounds since his trip to Abuja to invite Buhari to Ondo State for the commissioning of some projects. Aketi and his people have denied this and, in so doing, have pointed to the recruitment and ceremonial flagging off of Amotekun just before the election. But if this is not mere razzmatazz or William Shakespeare’s all sounds and fury signifying nothing, where is Amotekun on ground in Ondo State as the people are asking?
It is sad that in the whole of the South-west today, Amotekun has been killed; only the apparition remains. “Mariwo” (palm frond or clothing) is what we see; the “egungun” (masquerader) is no more! Our political leaders, falling again for the deceit and superior “fire power” of our oppressors, have bent the knee. Hosea 13:1 says: When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died” The South-west governors who stood tall amongst and with their people when they raised their voice in support of Amotekun “died” when they went backdoor to kow-tow and surrender to Fulani/Abuja Baal! So also the many other so-called Yoruba leaders! This time last year, the Yoruba hope was rekindled in the Yoruba World Congress (YWC) and its newly-enthroned leader, Prof. Banji Akintoye; but today one year down the road, where is the YWC and where is Akintoye? They have splintered! Crumbs, fat bones, positions, selfish interests, parochialism, and the politics of 2023 have scattered them. Things have fallen apart! Ask Akintoye. Ask Dr. Amos Akingba. Ask Akogun Tola Adeniyi. Ask Deji Osibogun. Ask Prof. Tony Kila. Ask Victor Taiwo. Drag them out to make confessions – and purge themselves! A house divided against itself… Where are the Yoruba Obas? Where are the politicians of note? Where is the Aare-Ona-Kankanfo? Where is Sunday Igboho? But the Lord will raise a deliverer for the Yoruba, even if from unexpected and unusual quarters, just like he did in Moses for the children of Israel!
Now to Akeredolu and his erstwhile Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Kola Olawoye: Akeredolu sacked Olawoye last week. Olawoye has promised to speak out in due course. I advise him not to! He should simply draw the line and move on. That he keeps quiet does not mean the issues are not already in the public domain. Olawoye was a year ahead of me at Owo High School. He was one of those “hard” Day student seniors. Age and experience must have tempered him, as I learnt from the accounts of those who have had dealings with him. On the few occasions I spoke with him while he was in office, he sounded like an outsider. I made investigations and found that his relationship with his governor was not cosy. Then, he should have left – but he did not.
Akeredolu, I have never met or spoken with but his relationship issues are legendary. Four years ago when he had just won his first term and was yet to be sworn in, I wrote twice warning that he had to do something about his relationship deficiencies but many Owo elites shut me up, calling me unprintable names. Four years later, many of them called me to say they were sorry. I heard that Aketi was pressured into appointing Olawoye as A-G in the first place and that the governor saw nothing wrong in disparaging him openly. Maybe that is the same way Aketi treats many others around him. I know one ex-governor whose capacity for verbal assault will surpass Aketi’s a hundred times. Interestingly, however, the same Aketi is said to have no qualms publicly confirming the role Olawoye played in his emergence as governor. That being the case, what went wrong? I dare to say that both men lack the capacity – and sagacity – to manage and maintain relationships.
Olawoye should have supported – and respected – Aketi more. Or else, leave the room! Yes, you dragged him out to be governor – but why not drag yourself out to be the governor if it was that easy? As Owo would say, when you have done someone a favour, do not stoop there expecting instant favours. Walk away from it! Moreover, I consider Olawoye’s appointment as Attorney-General good enough; his making the SAN mark under Aketi is also landmark. It is a life-time achievement. If my friend, Owoseni Ajayi, had achieved that under ex-Gov. Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, he would have been a more fulfilled man. But the sack ruins it all!
When the rofo-rofo starts, both will be smeared, Aketi more so for, as they say, he that is down need fear no fall. Some of the issues making the rounds already, especially regarding the governor’s in-law angling to become a judge on the ticket of Ondo State, will pitch a sizable percentage of the state’s population against Aketi.
Besides, Aketi versus Agboola Ajayi; Aketi versus some House of Assembly members; Aketi versus Olawoye, Aketi versus Eyitayo Jegede; Aketi versus insecurity in Ondo State! Tell Akeredolu to watch it!
LAST WORD: Last Friday evening as I put this column to bed, news broke that the wife of Akeredolu’s Chief of Staff, Olugbenga Ale (who hails from Owo) had been kidnapped in Ondo State. Gradually, the chickens are coming home to roost!NB: Latest reports say the kidnapped woman was rescued in a jiffy, so to say, by, wait for it, Amotekun! So Amotekun can be so efficient and can swiftly spring into action, as is characteristic of “amotekun”, when the big men and women and their families are involved but keep silent and docile, look the other way and remain comatose when the poor and voiceless are involved! Why should this be so? Here, too, Akeredolu has a case to answer. ALL the Southwest governors must make Amotekun relevant for the security of ALL Southwest indigenes regardless of whose ox is hired or they should disband the regional security outfit immediately. As our people would say, “Ori o ju ori” All kidnapped poor and hapless Ondo indigenes must be similarly promptly rescued by Amotekun. What is sauce for the goose should also be sauce for the gander!