Renowned historian and Second Republic Senator Banji Akintoye on Tuesday urged the people of the Southwest to strengthen the resolve of the six governors from the region to reject the proposed Rural Grazing Areas (RUGA).
He also warned about the consequence of incessant attacks, kidnappings, rape, killings and maiming by suspected intruders and invaders from outside the zone, saying that the people may resort to self-defence.
Akintoye said: “To succeed in rejecting and rejecting it, we must re-orientate our approach to our governors. Our governors are our frontline of defence, and we need to understand the situation in which they stand. Under the current chaotic and unitary constitution of Nigeria, all power and control in Nigeria reside in the hands of those who control the federal establishment in Abuja.
“Each governor, to be able to rule his state at all, must cautiously manage its relations with the Abuja federal community. So, each of our governors finds himself perched between the jaws of a pair of nutcrackers. While Abuja controllers demand that each governor must grant land in his state for cattle colonies, our people are threatening fire and brimstone, if any governor grants even one square inch of Yorubaland.
“Certainly, our governors are our own men, and none of them would consent to having our Yorubaland overrun by anybody. Therefore, I humbly propose that we leaders of Yoruba nation should come close to our governors and give them support for the purpose of giving them confidence and strength to reject the Abuja demands.”
The eminent scholar urged Southwest governor to instead, promote the establishment of modern ranches by Southwest entrepreneurs in the region, adding that the move will open up businesses and create job opportunities for the people.
Noting that accusing fingers are allegedly pointed at many suspected herdsmen from a region, Akintoye, a retired Professor of History, urged them to “call off this campaign of killing, maiming and destruction,” stressing that “no ethnic group commands a monopoly of violence”.
The elder statesman spoke on: ‘Power and Politics, and the Conflict of Ethnic Identity in Nigeria,’ at a one-day Summit on Peace-Building and Conflict Prevention in Lagos. It was organised by ‘Journalists for Democratic Rights, led by Wale Adeoye.
The theme of the summit was: ‘Engaging the media and community-based organisations for post-election reconciliation and conflict prevention in Lagos State. It was attended by representatives of Arewa, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, an official of the Meyetti Allah Organisation, Mekudi Usman, leader of Supreme Egbesu Assembly, Chief Digifa Werinipre, and rights activist Omoyele Sowore.
Sowore, who unfolded plans by his group to start what he called a revolutionary protest on August 5, lamented that the current leadership lacked a workable solution to the prospects of a failed state.
Miyetti-Allah Organisation official Usman said the group was sensitive to the growing concerns, disclosing that its members now have identity cards to identify them and distinguish them properly from the unscrupulous elements.