Governor ‘Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has declared that his government will do everything possible to end kidnapping and insecurity in the state by working with all security agencies, including the newly-introduced Oyo State Security Network Agency, also known as Amotekun Corps.
The governor maintained that the safety and security of all residents of the state remains a top priority for his government, adding that his administration will work relentlessly to tackle cases of kidnapping and insecurity.
Makinde, who appreciated all heads of security agencies for doing their best to secure the state, explained that the government is already setting up proper information channels for security agencies in the state in order for them to keep the information flow simple.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Makinde, Taiwo Adisa, indicated that the governor stated these while briefing newsmen at the Government House, Agodi, Ibadan on Wednesday, adding that the government will go ahead to implement the N500 million MSME fund and employment of 5,000 young persons into government agencies as well as the engagement of youths into direct labour schemes to tackle youth restiveness in the state.
He said: “The safety and security of all residents of Oyo State remain our top priority.
“We will continue to work relentlessly to tackle cases of kidnapping and insecurity in our state.
“We are also putting in place other policies to address insecurity, especially with regards to youth restiveness.
“Last year, after the EndSARS protests, we talked about three things that we will be doing to reduce youth unemployment and improve the security situation in the state.
“We talked about the N500 million MSME fund that we will set up, employment opportunities for 5,000 young persons across all government agencies and the provision for the direct labour agency.
“We could not do all of these towards the end of last year because we had budgetary constraints.
“But now, we have put these schemes in this year’s budget and we should be implementing them as scheduled this year.”
Governor Makinde, who warned that some individuals who want Amotekun to fail had been assailing it with all sorts of misinformation and fake news, maintained that the community policing model remains the only way to solve the insecurity challenge in the country.
He stated that the state will not sit idly and watch any Amotekun operative operate outside the ambits of the law and that it would also not yield to blackmail against the new agency.
He added that the state has identified that there is presently some friction between the Amotekun and Nigerian Police in the state, adding that the state will set up a committee to iron out the frosty relationship between the two institutions and bring about an alignment in their operations.
Makinde said: “Amotekun is not operating in a vacuum.
“They are a creation of the law of the state.
“The Nigerian Police is a creation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“It is normal that we have inter and intra agency friction where possible, but we will get everybody together and seek alignment towards the same end basically.
“For the past six weeks that the Amotekun was deployed, we have seen various reports in the news. Most of these reports are good and a few are bad.
“And of the bad, quite a number are false information and fake news.
“For example, some newspapers carried the news that Amotekun killed seven fulani herdsmen in Ibarapa.
“Such a story was circulated to stoke ethnic tension.
“Even some reputable media fell for this.
“Whereas, the real story was that Amotekun worked with the community members, including genuine herdsmen to flush out bad elements in that zone.
“It has, therefore, become necessary to put the good people of Oyo State on high alert.
“Each time you see a news item, you want to ask yourself if it is believable or just some no-good-people at work.
“I have to tell you that there are people among us that don’t want Amotekun to succeed and they will use lies and disinformation to push their agenda.
“We must realise where we are coming from and where we really want to be.
“Community policing is the way forward and we have to make it work.
“If somebody says he is abused by Amotekun and cannot pinpoint the Amotekun personnel in such an area, you are probably not from that neighbourhood and you are a fake news carrier.
“So, as I always say, I know we do have trust-deficit between the people and the authorities, and this makes it easier to think the worst of people in authority.
“But we should not cut our nose to spite our face.
“We must find a balance so that we do not turn the people trying to protect us to our enemies.”
The governor charged anyone with a genuine case against the members of the Amotekun Corps to come forward with their grievances by using any of the feedback channels put in place by the government.
The governor equally warned traditional rulers and village heads against allocating lands to undocumented foreigners, stating that some undocumented individuals had been contributing to insecurity in the state.
He added that the state will soon provide documentation for these individuals and especially miners and motorcycle/tricycle operators, saying: “So, we are going to be providing some documentation for them.
“Those who work in the mining site will be documented and a Task Force is being set up to do this.
“We will also be meeting with the heads of the association of Amalgamated Commercial Motorcycle and Tricycle Owners, Repairers and Riders Association of Nigeria.
“I also understand that they also have a breakaway faction in Oyo State.
“Well, we will be reaching out to the two of them to ensure that we get them registered.
“So, this will go a long way to address how some people are hiding under their platform to commit crimes.
“The option is very simple for us.
“It is either you get registered and we know who are the operators or we regulate your operation.
“We can say that after 6pm, we don’t want to see okadas and tricycles on our streets.
“We have the power to do that but how does that affect our economy?
“I personally believe that they are filling a gap.
“If demands exist, we want them to maximise the gains coming from their operation.
“But if they would not register their people, we will be left with no choice than to just regulate the hours in which they operate.
“So, I am hopeful that they will cooperate with us by getting their people registered.”
Similarly, the governor addressed the resurgence in cases of COVID-19 in the state and the country, saying the virus is still very much in the state and that residents must continue to adhere to the protocols to prevent the spread, while also following the food advisory once released by the state to boost their immune system.
Makinde advised that individuals must show responsibility by owning their actions.
According to Governor Makinde, the data available to the state are not showing a second wave of the virus as the curve was never flattened, explaining that the state tested about 20,000 samples of people who were mostly sick or had direct contact with those who had the virus between March and December 2020 with about 3,000 testing positive.
He stated that the state has equally conducted about 14,000 tests on people, including those not showing any symptom based on the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control guidelines between early December and January 2021 and that 696 tested positive.
In all, he said the state has conducted more than 34,000 COVID-19 tests.
He said: “With recent happenings and talks on the second wave of COVID-19, it becomes necessary that I address you.
“Let me start by talking about the issue of this supposed second wave.
“I have always said that all our responses to COVID-19 in Oyo State will be guided by data, science and logic.
“So, as far as Oyo State is concerned, the data we have is not pointing to a second wave as the curve was never flattened.
“The data says COVID-19 is still very much with us.
“Science is telling us that we can slow down the spread by taking precautions.
“So, the logical thing to do is to follow what science dictates.
“We know how difficult the year 2020 was for a lot of us.
“So, logically, we should not do things that will make the situation worse.
“This is not the time to let down our guard.
“If anything, we should not take any of the precautions lightly.
“In the last month, we have unfortunately had eight deaths.
“Even though many people have mild to moderate symptoms, it is severe for a few, and since we do not know who it will be severe, we need to keep our guard up.
“On our part, we are doing everything within our power to provide more resources for the EOC to continue to manage the spread of this disease.
“We are facilitating greater collaborations between the laboratories, the University College Hospital, Ibadan, and our Infectious Disease Centre at Olodo.
“We are also carrying out training for private clinics/hospitals so they can follow the right protocols.
“For those who may need oxygen, we are signing an MOU with a firm for supply of oxygen and the use of their facilities if need be.
“They already have facilities in the state and they are providing oxygen at UCH.
“So, we are just asking them to factor Oyo State into their production schedule.”
While speaking on the issue of COVID-19 vaccines, the governor maintained that the 1,800 vaccines allocated to the state by the Federal Government are inadequate, stating that the state will engage manufacturers of Astra-Zeneca Vaccines when finally certified fit for human consumption, as it has been said to be more suitable for the state because of its storage instructions.
Makinde said: “On the issue of vaccines, the Federal Government, from what we read, has allocated 1,800 vaccines for Oyo State.
“First, in Oyo State, we don’t have a facility to store at minus 70 centigrade.
“Again, this number is grossly inadequate.
“If you want to vaccinate 100,000 people out of a population of almost 200 million, it is not going to make any dent.
“And Oyo State, which is a population of between seven million to 12 million, 1,800 vaccines are not going to go anywhere.
“So, we are exploring other means of getting these vaccines to our people.
“I have been advised by the experts that the Astra-Zeneca Vaccine is more suitable for Oyo State due to storage instructions.
“So, we are opening discussions directly with the manufacturer so that we can get as many as possible for our people once it is certified.
“For now, the protocol remains the same.
“Prof. Alonge and his team will continue to manage the COVID-19 situation for us, but what I will say to everyone is: you have to own your action.
“I have to own mine action too.”