Penultimate Friday, Gov. Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu was quoted as raising the alarm that terrorists were trooping down South from the North. As volatile and scary as the statement was, the governor said nothing new. That the entire South-west, and not Akeredolu’s Ondo State alone, has been infiltrated and surrounded by terrorists and jihadists is generally well-known or, better still, such news have been in the public domain for years now, and it has been credited to credible sources such as the United Nations and world powers such as the United States of America.
Being a sitting governor with access, we believe, to privileged security information, Akeredolu’s alarm confirms what the people have always known and or believed. We can now quote Akeredolu, as we are doing here; in the same manner we quote Gov. Samuel Ortom of Benue state’s incessant and frontal allegations that the Muhammadu Buhari presidency is complicit in the insurgency ravaging the country.
Only last month, terrorists violated the peace of Owo in Ondo State when they attacked the St. Francis Catholic Church in the town killing not less than 40 worshippers and wounding scores of others. Some report alleged that the attack, which the Presidency said was by jihadists of the Islamic State West Africa Province, was to punish Akeredolu for his strident advocacy for the presidency to rotate to the South in 2023 as well as for his championing the establishment of Amotekun, the South-west security outfit which the Fulani-dominated Presidency vociferously kicked against. So, Akeredolu, who publicly shed tears at the funeral of the slain worshippers at Owo, and who admitted without prodding that his government failed the people in being unable to protect them and their property, should be seen as being proactive this time around to prevent a recurrence of the June disaster at Owo. In that way, he cannot be faulted.
But after raising the alarm, what next? What steps has he taken as governor of his state and as chairman of the Southern Governors Forum to address the security danger attendant to terrorists trooping to the South from the North? Has he rallied his brother-governors to the looming and or lurking danger? Judging by how the Southern governors shouted “Southern presidency” from the rooftop only for some of them to act treacherously afterward, it should be obvious to Akeredolu that he has to watch out for himself.
Is he doing the needful in his own Ondo state, so that affliction will not rise a second time? How is he beefing up security in the state? Is he strengthening Amotekun numerically and is he training and arming them to be able to adequately and appropriately confront the existential danger that the governor himself has identified? In other words, is Akeredolu walking the talk or will he retire to bed after raising the alarm, leaving smouldering fire on his rooftop?
After the Owo holocaust, the governor has ordered the installation of CCTV in public buildings and other sensitive locations in the State; good move but we need to follow up on implementation. In other climes, we would also be having periodic briefing on the Owo attack. Has the governor significantly beefed up Amotekun numerically and with the appropriate training? Are they now better kitted, better armed and provided with the necessary logistics and modern technology? But where will Akeredolu, who reportedly has just only paid February salary in July, find the funds to provide robust security architecture for Ondo state? And talking about funding, why is this governor unable to pay salaries as at when due when he collects allocations every month from Abuja?
Ondo is also an oil-producing state; so what happens to the additional 13% oil money that the state receives? And does not a penny accrue to the state from internally-generated revenue? Why, then, is Akeredolu indebted to workers and pensioners? I understand he is not indebted to Amotekun! If so, great but if not, the security of the state is compromised ab initio! Another question we must ask is how much is Akeredolu’s security votes every month and how is this expended? Except he opens up on this, we will be tempted to believe the figures bandied about by his erstwhile deputy, Agboola Ajayi – something like 750 million Naira every month or what?
Is it true that, last week, Ondo state Muslims were condemned to celebrating Sallah with dry pockets and on empty stomachs? Akeredolu has a case to answer! He cannot continue to hide under his strident advocacy for Southern Presidency to run Ondo state aground and impoverish its people.
*Former Editor of PUNCH newspapers, Chairman of the Editorial Board and Deputy Editor-in-Chief, BOLAWOLE was also Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Westerner newsmagazine. He writes the ON THE LORD’S DAY column in the Sunday Tribune and the TREASURES column in the New Telegraph newspaper. He is also a public affairs analyst on radio and television.
By Bolanle Bolawole
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