No doubt, this is not the best of times for the Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde. It is indeed a trying period for the Governor, once in not too far past rated as one of the best performing Governors in Nigeria. He was praised for his consistency in the regular and timely payment of salaries of civil servants and for other populist programs.
Alas, the unbridled insecurity in the state is pitching Makinde against the people of the state. On assumption of office, Makinde did the needful on security by fortifying the state security architecture with assorted vehicles and other security equipment, expediently required to improve security in the state.
Also, when states in the South West region of the country conceived the idea of a regional security network, Governor Makinde was not found wanting. He was next to the Chairman of the South West Governors’ Forum and Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, not only in supporting the idea, but in giving life to Amotekun. Makinde established the Amotekun Corps far ahead of his governor colleagues.
After the investment of state’s fund in equipping the security apparatus and setting up the much desired local police squad, the natural expectation was an enhancement in the security of the state. But in Oyo, the reverse was the case. Instead of the fortified security architecture and the Amotekun Corps giving more peace to the state, the people became less secured with more severe attacks in the hands of herdsmen and other criminal elements. People were horrified and started losing confidence in government and its security network.
Cases of murder, kidnappings, rape, armed robbery and other crimes increased across the state. Ibarapa, known to be the most peaceful zone in the state, ironically became the hotbed of killings, kidnappings and other violent crimes. The gruesome murder of Dr. Fatai Aborode, a successful Nigerian who relocated from overseas to his home town, Igangan, in the spirit of giving back to his source was one case too many. Aborode’s life was brutally cut short by people suspected to be herdsmen. There were other numerous cases of murders which have heightened tension across the state.
Naturally, concerned Nigerians, especially eminent citizens of Oyo State were worried with the escalation of crime and criminality in the state. They offered advice as they said governance is beyond mere deployment of fund or throwing money at problems. It requires profound planning, putting in place workable and sustainable policies engaging the apt set of people, putting round pegs in round holes and prompt response through executive visitations in dire circumstances.
Shortly after the establishment of the local police, Amotekun, a former Governor of the State and a retired top police officer, Otunba Christopher Adebayo Alao Akala, genuinely advised the governor to head the organization with an honest, God fearing retired police officer who would be able to relate more effectively with the police rather than using a retired military officer. Akala gave cogent reasons for the advice. The advice was not only rejected, the adviser too was thoroughly abused. In a veiled reference to the former Governor, Governor Makinde and his handlers said the state had been governed by “charlatans” in the past and that he, Makinde “will not allow charlatans to govern the state again”.
This treatment was not only meted out to Otunba Alao Akala (Oyato), the most popular and loved Governor of Oyo State till date, it is the general reward for any person, particularly politicians including top members of the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who dare to criticize or offer any form of advice to the Oyo State Number One Citizen. I keep the story of how leaders of PDP are treated on giving advice to His Excellency, for another day.
The latest victim of the verbal assault is the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, who felt worried as a citizen of the state over the worsening state of security in his dear state. On January 25, the sincere advice given by the Minister was turned to a verbal war by the handlers of Governor Makinde against the minister. The Minister had, inter alia, advised the government of Governor Makinde to be more pragmatic in his response and handling of the increasing wave of crime in the state and to evolve a strategy that would guarantee mutually suitable living between the herdsmen and farmers.
Specifically, Mr. Dare suggested that: “The building of a new security template for Oyo State is long overdue.” He added: “A more robust and concerted security strategy is needed to combat crime. A community relations strategy is wanted in the face of the herdsmen/farmers clashes… “I know I will get my share of abuse and criticism for making this statement. I will take it because when it comes to security of our people, I stand firm. There is no room for partisanship on this essential point. Oyo citizens from Ibadan to Ibarapa to Ogbomoso to Oke Ogun to Oyo deserve better. Better security and better responses to the issue of protecting them. I want the Governor to do better as the price of continued failure is that of loss of additional lives and property as well as increasing tensions between people who once treated each other as neighbors and brothers. Also, for most of our citizens in the state who are easy prey for killers, kidnappers and hoodlums.”
And truly, as predicted, Dare got his share of abuse and condemnation from the handlers of the Governor of Oyo State. A release signed by Taiwo Adisa, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, described the 55-year-old first class journalist and now a minister as a baby and fickle minded. Adisa’s words: “We have noted with concern the fickle-mindedness being demonstrated by opposition elements in Oyo State, especially individuals like the Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare. It is sad that Mr. Dare has revealed himself as a small mind by playing to the gallery on insecurity in Oyo State, which is a fall out of the failure of the Federal Government on security issues. Their utter attempt at showmanship and unpatriotic conduct portray them as babes and sucklings intervening on sensitive matters.”
As much as it is the right of every individual or professional to adopt any style suitable for his job, tolerance is needed in leadership. It is a virtue. I think the handlers of Makinde need to be more sober in their reactions to criticisms and advice, particularly as they affect the security of the state which is the joint responsibility of all.
Governance is more complex than throwing money at problems. It is more than pursuing solely populist programs. It requires utter seriousness, deep thinking; evolving the right policies and programmes and executing such with the precise set of people.
A leader or a governor can only get it right by listening to wise counsel and not by deliberately warding off advice through verbal assaults. Abuse does not pay, at least, in sensitive matters.
. Olaosebikan writes from Ibadan, Oyo State.