The Abusive and Archaic Attitude of Akeredolu
By Bala Ibrahim
For some unknown reasons, nature had imbued in me the instinct of utmost respect for the members of the learned profession, the respect of which multiplies when they attain the level of silk.
Those of them endowed by nature to come with good height, and eminent enough to be appointed as Senior Advocates, SAN, automatically compel me to bow for them, near the respect of regality. His Excellency, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), has fulfilled all the qualities above, with a plus, by adding the position of the Executive Governor of Ondo State to his credit.
Since last week, when the news broke out, that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, has given seven days ultimatum to herdsmen to immediately vacate the forest reserves within the state, I gave the Governor a minus, and my mind had been restlessly reminiscing over the loss of Chief Gani Fawehinmi, (SAM, SAN), whose late father, Chief Saheed Tugbobo Fawehinmi, the Sarkin Musulumi of Ondo, and a successful timber trader, would have been amongst those to be directly affected by this order. As a timber trader, late Saheed Fawehenmi was not only dependent on the forest, but irrevocably affixed to its inhabitants.
Had Gani (SAM, SAN) been alive, I can bet my wallet that he would be the first to challenge Governor Akeredolu on this, especially where he said that, “his administration will not fold its arms and allow a few individuals to turn the State into a haven of dare-devil criminals”.
When has grazing and timber trading turned into dare devil criminality, especially if practiced by non indigenes?
In giving the quit notice, the governor stated that the security reports and debriefings from victims of kidnap cases pointed in one direction, traceable to some bad elements masquerading as herdsmen. As such, he ordered that all Forest Reserves in the State are to be vacated by herdsmen within the next seven days, with effect from Monday, 18/01/2021.
I don’t want to imagine what would happen to Nigeria, if every section of the country were to give quit notices to non indigenes, whose sources of livelihood are perceived as unlawful by the people in power.
The recklessness of Akeredolu’s statement has since commenced gaining steam in the direction of ethnic segregation, because, if not for the timely intervention of the proactive CP of the FCT, CP Bala Chiroma, who was extremely quick to dispatch a team, to avert a charged, calamitous and potentially catastrophic situation at the central area of Abuja yesterday, the narratives in the news would have been tragically terrible today.
Borrowing from the language of the “learned” Governor’s quit order, a silly disciple nearly committed suicide at a popular plaza in Abuja yesterday, where, without regards to the danger or consequences of his rashness, he turned into a basket mouth in the public, in support of violent splitting or separating Nigeria along ethnic divides. Tension was growing, as people, almost all, belonging to a different ethnic group, began to groan over the evident insensitivity of the traducer.
Like the Presidency said, “Governor Akeredolu, a seasoned lawyer, Senior Advocate of Nigeria and indeed, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has fought crime in his state with passion and commitment, greater sensitivity and compassion for the four years he has run its affairs and, in our view, will be the least expected to unilaterally oust thousands of herders who have lived all their lives in the state, on account of the infiltration of the forests by criminals. If this were to be the case, rights groups will be right in expressing worries that the action could set off a chain of events which the makers of our constitution foresaw and tried to guard against”.
Our memories are still fresh, with similar sentiment expressed by a Muslim group based in Sokoto, the Muslim Solidarity Forum, which called on the Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Mathew Kukah, to tender an unreserved apology to the entire Muslim Ummah, over his “malicious comments” against Islam, or quickly leave the state. The warning was sequel to Kukah’s comments that described Muslims as a people who possess ‘a pool of violence to draw from’.
For Bishop Kukah, who is from Zangon Kataf local government area of Kaduna State, an area that witnessed ethnic cleansing in the eighties, the wounds of which are yet to be healed, an ordained Catholic Priest, and a perceived promoter and participant of peace parleys, nothing can be more disrespectful to the meaning of peaceful coexistence.
As observed by the Presidency, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), were castigated for asking citizens of Northern origin to leave the Ibo land, in total disregard to the law, which permits and protect citizens all over the country, in their choice of where they wished to reside, provided they respect the rights of others.
Despite the gravity of its insensitivity, I may dismiss Mathew Kukah’s statement as a misdemeanour, but be quick to classify Governor Akeredolu’s action as subversion against the state.
As a lawyer, and a SAN for that matter, Governor Akeredolu should be loud in protecting the rights of all, and in promoting the cause of justice. He ought to be a champion in upholding Human Rights and the fundamental freedoms of people to reside in peace everywhere in Nigeria.
Anything to the contrary by Akeredolu is abusively archaic, and akin to the undermining of the power and authority of the constitution of Nigeria, which he swore to defend and protect.
Mr. Ibrahim writes from Abuja.