The National Coordinator of the Oodua People’s Congress, Gani Adams, has faulted the Founder of the OPC, Dr. Frederick Fasehun, over his call on the Yoruba to confront Fulani herdsmen who attack them. He said such statements could cause anarchy. Punch reports.
However, the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has backed Fasehun, saying the people of the region had the right to protect themselves if the government failed to protect them. Fulani herdsmen had on September 21, Falae’s 77th birthday, kidnapped the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation for four days. His abductors were paid a ransom before they set him free.
Barely two weeks after, some Fulani herdsmen moved cattle into Falae’s Ilado farm in Akure and destroyed a one-kilometre stretch of maize plantation. Fasehun had described the activities of the Fulani herdsmen as an embarrassment to the Yoruba race and called on the people to defend their territory.
Fasehun, who spoke at the Yoruba Summit in Ibadan some days ago, said Yoruba’s patience with rampaging herdsmen, whom he accused of killing and raping their hosts, had been exhausted.
“We can no longer continue to preach patience when our guests are disrespecting our territorial integrity. As it is, the territorial integrity of the Yoruba race is at risk. This is the time for the Yoruba people, especially the youths, to stand up and defend their nation. “We do not have to depend on the Fulani herdsmen’s cattle when we have goats and chickens here. If it is confrontation, we are prepared to confront these people. Enough is enough. “The killings, kidnappings and rapings by these people on our land must stop. When violence confronts violence, we will achieve peace. We have been preaching peace for 55 years but peace has not been sustained.”Adams, in an interview with Punch correspondent, however, berated Fasehun, saying his statement could cause an ethnic conflict. He stated that Yoruba leaders needed to strategise rather than make strong statements.
He recalled that some Yoruba leaders had met after the attack on Falae and had sent a strong message to the Federal Government. Adams said the leaders gave the government an ultimatum to end herdsmen’s attacks on the Yoruba, otherwise the people of the region would ‘declare self-determination’.
The OPC said while the police had arrested some of the suspects that kidnapped Falae, there was the need for the Yoruba to “fortify” their land.
He said, “I think we should not just make statements like that. A statement like that can create chaos and it can give room for violent people to dent the image of the Yoruba race.
“What we should do is to fortify our area and make sure that our environment is well secure; and make sure that our people are security conscious. Not by saying that the Yoruba should go after them (Fulani herdsmen); that is the beginning of anarchy.
“We should not encourage anarchy in our system; we should not encourage a situation in which people who are not Yoruba would be afraid to live in Yoruba land.”
However, the Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, said Fasehun was right with his call for self defence.
“Nothing is wrong with what Dr. Fasehun said; that if somebody is attacking you and not relenting, you have the right to defend yourself.
“What people should be talking about is ‘why should some people be attacking others because they are rearing cattle?’”