Governor of Oyo State, ‘Seyi Makinde, has again, called on residents of the state to demonstrate restraints over the biting hardship occasioned by the Naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), noting that violence would not solve the problem on the ground.
This is just as Security Commanders in the state have declared that they would be firm against hoodlums who might try to hijack the peaceful protests by Oyo State residents over the ongoing scarcity of new Naira notes.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that while the Governor addressed residents of the state from Igbojaye, Itesiwaju Local Government, where he is concluding a three-day stretch of campaigning in the four local governments in Iseyin Federal Constituency, the Security Commanders spoke in Ibadan, after an on-the-spot assessment of the situation in the state capital, on Wednesday, 15 February, 2023.
According to the statement, Governor Makinde appealed to residents of the state, some of whom engaged in protests across some locations in Ibadan earlier on Wednesday, saying that though it was the right of everyone to protest peacefully, they should be wary of hoodlums who might hijack the protests and cause a breakdown of peace and order.
The Governor maintained that the situation Nigerians have found themselves in is rather unfortunate, stating that as good as the Naira redesign policy is, its timing is completely wrong and that the state government has engaged the Federal Government on the matter.
He, however, called on Oyo State residents not to resort to violence, as according to him, the state would not like to lose any soul to the crisis.
He further noted that residents of the state should rather react with their votes on February 25, 2023, as according to him, it is important to stay alive and bring about a change of government than engage in violence that cannot help anyone.
The Governor added that apart from palliative measures already being put in place by the state government, practical engagements are also ongoing to resolve the crisis and ensure that normalcy returns.
He said: “Like I said earlier, peaceful protest is the right of everyone but once it becomes violent and violates the peace of other people, it has become something else. And I can say that where the rights of protesters stop is where the right of some others begin.
“Yes, we have found ourselves in a very unfortunate situation but violence will not solve the problem. So, I want to appeal to our people because we don’t want to lose a single soul to this crisis.
“Palliatives are going in Oyo State and there are few things we have promised to do on this.
“We all have the opportunity to speak through our votes in 10 days time and it is someone who is alive that will enjoy what the new government will offer the people.
“So, please, I like to urge the protesters to go back to their various homes. Once the protest turns into violence, the security personnel also have the right to protect the lives of other people. It is not as if those that are not protesting are happy about the situation we are faced with, but it is because there are several ways to address whatever issue we are contending with.”
While speaking on behalf of the Security Commanders serving in Oyo State, after an on -the-spot-assessment of trouble spots in Ibadan, the Special Adviser on Security to Governor Makinde, CP Fatai Owoseni (rtd), said that the Commanders were able to douse the tension in the state capital by appealing to protesters on the need for calm and non-violent engagement.
He maintained that though the Security Agencies could see the genuine grievances of the people, they appealed to them to be cautious so that hoodlums and political interests do not hijack their peaceful protests and cause violence and unrest in the state.
He said: “This is just an on-the-spot assessment of the situation in Ibadan. Going round the places, we took off from Aleshinloye area up to Eleyele through junction of Ologuneru up to Ijokodo, Sango, U.I, Agodi here and up to Iwo-Road. And what we have seen is that this really happened in some parts of Ibadan but not the entire town.
“From what we saw at Eleyele road, some people were burning tires and they were appealed to remove them. Situation has returned to normal and people are coming out to go about their lawful businesses, and security operatives are at those areas where hoodlums may want to take advantage to ensure such does not happen.
“With the interaction we had with some people at Eleyele, they have come out to say, look, because of the kind of business they do, they are still taking old naira notes from passengers but when they go to fuel stations, the old notes are rejected.
“We could see their genuine feelings but what we want to say is that we don’t want hoodlums to take advantage of this peaceful protest and turn the state into a place where they will say there is no law and order.
“Yes, there may be political undertone but what the Security Commanders want to assure the people of Oyo State is that they will continue with the pro-active measures they have put in place because it has helped in a very big way. If there have not being those measures, maybe the situation would have escalated. That is why people can now go about their lawful businesses.
“The foot soldiers are on the ground including the representatives of the GOC. So, when you have this kind of overwhelming presence, we are reassured. Even when people want to come out to express their sufferings, we will not allow hoodlums to hijack it.
“The state will be firm. The Commanders as well will be firm on hoodlums and criminals that want to take advantage. The protest will be managed in a way that it won’t degenerate.
“We have seen some barricades and the people that are involved, on their own, voluntarily removed them after letting them know that it is non-kinetic means that the state wants to be using to address the situation.
“It is a delicate thing, which everybody is feeling its impact. These are peasants who just want to earn their livelihood. So, you have to be careful when you are handling a situation such as this. That is why the Security Commandeers have resolved that non-kinetic means will be used and they won’t allow criminals to turn it to a violent one.”
Security agencies, whose Service Commanders, alongside the SA Security to Governor ‘Seyi Makinde, CP Owoseni(rtd), and the Director General, Oyo State Joint Security Task Force, Operation Burst, Colonel James Oladipo (rtd.), embarked on the spot-assessment include: Brigadier General A.A. Tawasimi of the Nigeria Army; Deputy Commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Patunola Timothy; Commander, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Abdullahi Saheed; Deputy Comptroller, Immigration, Odesola Oyebode and the State Director of the State Security Services, Mr. Emmanuel Okoye(MSi).