Narendra Modi, the current Prime Minister of India, once described the hallmark of government as good governance with good intentions. He also said that the core passion of any government is to implement policies and decisions with integrity.
In democracy, one of the ways to keep a government on the path of prosperity and development is to keep track of its activities, being vigilant about them and highlighting loopholes in its policies. It is not unusual to see society divided into segments, each with a different perspective about the policies undertaken by their governments; it is something which keeps the true essence of democracy alive.
Nigeria is not any different. It boasts people with different ideologies, some criticise the government policies and some support it, while others appreciate the good policies and highlight the drawbacks to improve governance. Yet there are those who are sheer anarchists. All they position themselves to do is to look for flickers of crisis and enlarge them to justify their negative disposition. They keep inciting the people against government, believing they can always reap from the attendant misfortune.
Such people are the ones Yoruba would call *_Arije ninu ibaje._*
The Orin Ekiti herder-farmer crisis, which generated a lot of uproar recently could be situated within the larger context of the herder-farmer conflict that has become a contentious issue in the entire country. Yet, the administration of Dr. John Kayode Fayemi did not put anyone in doubt that it was giving it the much-needed attention with a view to putting an end to the crisis. To this end, no Ekiti community can be said to have as much security presence as the Orin axis.
Herder-farmer conflict is a significant challenge to Nigeria in the last two years. Although the government had in the past taken some measures to address this phenomenon, the increasing desertification and the effects of climate change have further increased the drive for the herdsmen to move further south in search of grazing land and pasture for their livestock.
The grazing reserves and livestock routes, which the herders operated in the 1960s, have also been encroached by farmers and the activities of urban developers. This has resulted in the southward movement of the herders, and it has continually pitched the herders against farmers and the host community whose crops are regularly invaded and destroyed by the cattle during this seasonal movement. The result of this is increased conflict, death, displacement and destruction of properties. And because the phenomenon is a human security issue, there has been calls for a concerted effort at the state, national, regional and international levels to address the challenges, especially since there is no specific legislation that is dedicated to addressing the peculiar needs of herders and farmers in Nigeria.
Imagine someone with no inkling of what transpired in a community, laying pretence to standing with the perceived victim and heaping uninformed blame on the government. Imagine a self-acclaimed critic wishing for the annexation of a state in the name of “but I told you so.” This is the role Yinka Odumakin has carved for himself in his ill-intended attempt to raise a flag on the Orin Ekiti saga.
If Odumakin wants to speak for the opposition party, PDP, he should feel free to do so and not estop himself or hide under the facade of speaking for Afenifere. He has been guilty of that in the last five years. Why is he trying to hide his identity? Why not simply wear his PDP uniform with pride and make an open show of it? Whatever intelligence or smartness Odumakin may lay claims to, he is certainly uninformed and mischievous with his reading of the Orin herder-farmer saga.
Odumakin even veered off his self-assigned role of speaking above his understanding of the Orin matter. He insolently queried Governor Fayemi for performing his duty as the governor of Ekiti and the Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum. Perhaps Odumakin should enlighten us on whose prerogative it is to choose the Chairman of the Council of Oba in the state. He should tell us what he thinks the role of the NGF Chair is. There are over 130 Obas in Ekiti and Odumakin was ignorantly sure of knowing 80% of them that are against the governor. Lest he doesn’t know, anything that affects Governors negatively anywhere is within the purview of the NGF Chair. At the moment, Fayemi is not just intervening in Kano, he is equally intervening in the crisis between Bayelsa and Rivers too.
So, what other proof does one need to conclude that the “Afenifere” fraudster is unschooled in the art of governance? What he ignorantly termed junketing was a national assignment after all. Commonsense should teach Odumakin that working in the state and undertaking national assignments are not binaries, they are not “either one or the other” duties. If Yinka must know, the two are both necessary.
Back to the Orin saga: Drawing from the explanation by a leader of the community, High Chief Bamidele Fasuyi, the Onikare of Orin Ekiti, the farm settlement, which spans a large expanse of land was actually government-owned. It was established in the late 50s as an agricultural establishment to provide work for school-leavers and food for the people. The crops being cultivated there were cocoa, citrus, rice, maize and others. The main objective of the farm settlement in the Western Nigeria was to investigate and later demonstrate carefully planned farming systems designed to attract young educated persons, particularly school-leavers to take up farming as a satisfying and lucrative means of livelihood.
“But gradually, the project collapsed because of the carelessness of the government. The whole place became a complete mess. It was transferred to the old Ondo State Government, which in turn transferred it to Ekiti State. During the time it was with Ondo State Government, nothing substantial was done there except that the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) established a research centre there. Under the control of Ekiti State Government, it was hoped that the proximity (of government seat to the place) would enhance a lot of development there, but government after government in Ekiti had not done anything there. Due to its size, the herdsmen took advantage of the fact that the place was lying fallow. That was why they came to use the place for grazing because it is a vast land.”
Where did Odumakin hear the Orin leader say “GOVERNMENT HAS NOT BEEN DOING SOMETHING?” Definitely, he didn’t read it from the interview published in the Punch of9 Thursday 28 December 2019. I have read and read and read it over and over again and could not see it. Here are the words of Chief Fasuyi, which Odumakin mischievously twisted:
“Sometime in June this year, some herdsmen killed one of us, Mr Emmanuel Ilori, who was a hunter and farmer. The state government officials came, sympathised with us and demonstrated empathy for us because of the incident.
The governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, sympathised with the family and community, and promised that such would not happen again. He promised to put security measures in place. Well, a Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps post was put here and we were happy. We thanked the government for doing that. The government also promised to give us a police post. This has not been done yet, though we still hope it will be done.”
This, according to the Orin High Chief was the basis of their December 18 protest in the community. When asked if they reported the destruction of the farms in November to the state government, he could not answer in the affirmative. Rather, he explained thus:
“We don’t know if the NSCDC made the matter known to the government, but our people believe that once the NSCDC, which is a government agency, knows about it, the government is aware. Even, we heard the chairman of the state’s Grazing Management Programme, Major Tajudeen Awe (retd.), was at the NSCDC office where the matter was handled. With that, we believe the government was already aware. Around that time, they brought some soldiers and other security agents there. What really baffled our people was the sight of the red flag.”
At no time did Orin leader utter the word “annexation,” which was the basis of Odumakin’s mischievous meddlesomeness. And when prompted if the popular belief was that the killing in June of Mr Ilori could have a connection with the red flag, the High Chief said it was more of an assumption than assertion. “That is what the people really think, he said, adding: “They even said before he was killed, a red flag was put there and that it was later removed by an unknown person. So, when they saw this one, they felt another danger was looming. The protest was not about the government; it was about people showing their feelings to the whole world and saying, “This is what is happening here.” So far so good. On behalf of Orin community, I thank the governor and Ekiti State Government for their prompt responses to the issue.”
Major Awe who visited the community and the farm settlement as soon as the alarm was raised could also see no sign of annexation. From his military understanding of annexation, there ought to have been an embargo placed on the land in the form of human shield if there were to be any annexation. He travelled through the length and breadth of the entire farmland with the youth of the community they saw no human being. Neither could anyone confirm to him who actually placed the red scarf, which was referred to as the herdsmen’s flag and which he personally removed in the presence of the youth who accompanied him from the stick it was placed.
What else do Odumakin and his like want to hear about government’s reaction? Has it not been mentioned that at no time was the government unmindful of the herder-farmer crisis reportedly plaguing Orin Ekiti? On a daily basis, government receives security reports from those keeping watch on the community. And rather than taking his facts from what the Orin leader was quoted as saying, Odumakin opted for selective amnesia. He failed to see this:
Journalist: What step has the government taken?
Chief Fasuyi: “I really appreciate the government. The following day after the December 18 protest, the chairman of the Grazing Management Programme came with security men; he saw the place. He also went to meet with the herdsmen at their camp very close to Ido Ekiti, which is part of the settlement. They called me and I had a discussion with the chairman of the Grazing Management Programme that day. I thanked him for the prompt action. He was at Orin Ekiti after that with security men. Even, the Commissioner for Information, Mr Muyiwa Olumilua, said on a television programme recently that the government meant well for the community, only that he felt we should have channelled our grievances appropriately. The commissioner spoke about a committee to be set up that would comprise the representatives of the community, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria and the government, to investigate the matter and solve the problem. We appreciate that. The commissioner also said the government would look into the issue of compensating youths whose farms were destroyed. I want to suggest that compensations should not only be monetary; those who have genuine certificates among them, like graduates, could be considered for employment by the government if possible.”
Well, Odumakin must apologize to the Orin High Chief for deliberately misrepresenting him. He must show his regrets for insulting the governor, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, who he recklessly addressed in unprintable words in his attempt to ram his mischievous missive down the throats of his undiscerning readers. He must admit that he was actually uninformed and misguided. In his attempt to be relevant, Yinka Odumakin is fast becoming recklessly irrelevant. Soon, his voice will no longer count in the affairs of this land.
Dipe wrote from Ado Ekiti.