Rugawatch: From Falae To Funke
By Martins Oloja
So many issues are loading for commentators. Trees are fast falling on trees. But our elders say we should get cracking by removing trees from the top for ease of clearing such a burden. For me, there are three critical issues that have attracted my attention this week. One is the correlation between Chief OluFalae’s curious kidnap four years ago and the killing of Pa Fasoranti’s daughter at the weekend. The other one is another thriller in history, which is 20 years old this month: It is the story of a titanic battle Professor Wale Omole fought in Ife as Vice Chancellor in 1999. The thriller defined the Ijesha-man who is today the Chairman of Board of Trustees of the Alumni (International) of Great Ife.
There are useful lessons therefrom. The third but not the least is the story of a significant reporter. Not many great journalists can be so described – as great reporters. Chief Segun Osoba is one. He has been a prominent politician but I would like to report him as a significant journalist who rose through the ranks – from newsroom to boardroom and still reporting. He will be 80 years tomorrow. Young journalists are encouraged to buy copies of his classic (book) titled,‘Battlelines: Adventures in Journalism and Politics’. They will be richly blessed.
From Falae to Funke – all rhetoric no action
Before Governors Rotimi Akeredolu and Kayode Fayemi begin to speak in tongues again on the Ruga ambush now kicking the Yoruba nation in the face, let’s encourage them to look up first to the people of Ekiti and Ondo States before some ‘principalities and powers’ in Abuja. The body language and utterances of these two governors on the curious ‘colonisation’ agenda can implicate and injure them a great deal if they don’t manage perception well around them at the moment. But before anything else, these two prominent governors who will always be in the eye of the storm because of the preponderance of Funani settlements in their domains, should let the president know at this moment that as in Skakespeare’s Macbeth, “Here is the smell of blood still, all perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand”.
This was what lady Macbeth was muttering in Act V, Scene 1, at a time she was overwhelmed by guilt. She has taken to sleepwalking and is obviously in deep distress. She constantly has a candle and walks about muttering of the evil she and her husband have done by murdering King Duncan and Macduff’s family, among others.
These two governors need to tell the president point blank now that their people are ‘agonising and are organising’ as I noted the other day. They need to add quickly and clearly that indeed, “…all perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten his (president’s) little hands” as far as this Ruga insult is concerned. They should tell him that people may not have carried placards to the Aso Villa on this but they have carried the placards in their hearts with some inscriptions reading, ‘Mr. President, you are Fulani, and the troublers of our people are Fulani and so people feel you are protecting them. So, as our leader, please treat these rampaging killers as state enemies… Tell police and soldiers to deal with them, ruthlessly…
That is the only way the two governors can speak truth to power now and build peace to resolve this incipient conflict that can lead to war in Western Nigeria.
I believe the authorities in Abuja should go beyond the new normal – condemning criminals and commiserating with the bereaved. There should be soul-searching by our leaders at all levels. The tragedy in Ondo did not begin with the killing of Pa Fasoranti’s daughter, Mrs. Funke Olakunrin. What did the authorities do even in Western Nigeria since 2015 when Chief OluFalae, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and former Finance Minister was attacked in his farm?
‘How I was abducted, tortured, released — Olu Falae’ was a major headline in all the mainstream and social media in September 27/28, 2015. This is part of the unpleasant account:
‘A former finance minister, Olu Falae, who was kidnapped and released last week, has provided shocking details of his ordeal at the hands of his abductors, narrating how he was deprived of food and made to trek several kilometres to freedom.
Mr. Falae said he was kidnapped by six Fulani herdsmen…at his Ilado farm in Akure.
The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, who spoke to journalists in his home in Akure, said the armed hoodlums threatened to kill him every 30 minutes until they received information that money had been given to them as demanded.
“There were six of them with three or four guns and every half an hour or so they will say, ‘Baba we are going to kill you, if you don’t give us money we are going to kill you,” Mr. Falae narrated.
“On Wednesday, one of them came and said ‘look we are going to leave here on Thursday morning. Since we cannot leave you here alone, if we don’t get what we want we are going to kill you.”
“And they said they gave me until 3 pm and if at 3 pm they don’t get the money they would execute me. I thank God that at 21 minutes to 3 pm, one of them came and said, ‘the money don complete’….”
Specifically, Chief Falae disputed the then police chief’s claim that no ransom was paid as he (Falae) said he paid N5 million to regain his freedom. The Akure High Court judgment, which jailed the abductors in 2017 confirmed the claim of payment of ransom, after all. But there was no report at that time that even the Ondo state government under Governor OlusegunMimiko assisted in any way in the payment of the whopping ransom. This historical fact becomes necessary if facts on the ground in Ondo state too can be useful at this time: That the presence of Fulani in strategic settlements in Ondo state is remarkable. The three arteries into Akure, through Ilara cattle market (to (Ijeshalandm in Osun), Ondo- Akure road (where they have shasha cattle market and settlement already and Owo-Akure road cattle (shasha) market have heavy presence of Fulani that will be quite difficult to displace without courting trouble. Besides, residents in Akure confirmed at the weekend that all the forests in this area are veritable grazing reserves for the Fulani. This is also replicated in all the local government areas from AkokoIkareland through Ondo-Akure to Ikale/Ilaje/Apoi/Ijaw Arogbo lands in the South. They have been there. So, when they went for Falae in 2015, what did we do in Western Nigeria? The answers to this question should not blow in the wind? So it is along Akure-Ado-EkitiIkere-Ekiti very bad road. I hope we have not forgotten too that Chief Falae’s farms have since January this year been burnt twice and that hasn’t been an issue. Not has it moved us from rhetoric to action. How long shall they kill our prophets and we stand aside and look…? May be Bob Marley knows the answer to the jigsaw puzzle!
So, let no one claim anymore that there should be no Ruga Settlements in Yorubaland. The settlements are already there. They consolidated while men slept in deep ‘political correctness’. It is just unfortunate that another prominent daughter fell to the wickedness of the criminals called herdsmen, bandits, etc.