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OYO101: The Perils And Pitfalls Of Engaging Cults, Gangsters, Area Boys | Muftau Gbadegesin

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In an astonishingly annoying move aimed at stemming the ugly tide of insecurity ravaging the state while clipping the wings of various cult groups, gangsters, hooligans and area boys, the state government through its commissioner for information, culture and tourism, Dr. Wasiu Olatunbosun, shockingly disclosed to the public that the Seyi Makinde administration has perfected plans to engage area boys, cult groups, and gangsters to sheath their swords and allow peace to reign. Olatunbosun made this self-defeating, disconcertingly indicting and damaging rhetoric on Thursday, 17 of February, 2022 after a closed door meeting with representatives of Agbekoya, Odua People’s Congress, Vigilante Group of Nigeria among others in Ibadan.

While adding flesh to the bones of what informed the government’s bizarre, off-kilter, and outlandish decision, the Honorable Commissioner explained that the state government in collaboration with all the militant groups is determined to proffer peaceful solutions to the unrest between area boys and cult groups. In addition, he said the meeting aims to solve the problem from the root, and that the state government will work closely with security agencies and leaders of the militant groups, to meet with cult sects and mediate between parties in the state. “The State Executive Council is aware of the activities of cultists and cult groups in the state”, Olatunbosun quipped “we hope to hold meeting with (sic) them”.

By engaging those dreaded, dare-devil and lawless groups in peace building, the state government has demonstrated what can best be described as gross incompetence, crass ineptitude and complete inability to arrest the tide of insecurity especially in the metropolis of Ibadan. Put in another way, that ill-conceived plot is another clever ploy on the state government’s part to abdicate from its constitutional and primary responsibility of protecting lives and properties of the people. And by pointing at area boys and various cult groups as the ultimate reason behind the uptick in the reported cases of insecurity in the state, the state government has shown it will keep toiling the path of least resistance when people’s lives and properties are concerns while exporting excuses to help explain for its abysmal failure in maintaining and sustaining peace its met on ground three years ago.

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Just last week, this essayist wrote a scathing column titled rather appropriately “In Makinde’s Oyo, Safety No longer Exist, Scary Is All That Exists”, where members of the public were walked through the curves and contours of various high profile, heart-pounding and blood dripping mayhem unleashed on innocent civilians since the inception of the administration: from Okeho robbery of August, 2020, Abolongo jailbreak of Oct, 2021 to various incessant confrontations around Iwo road between the PMS boys and Federal boys. The list is disturbingly endless.

“Contrary to what government’s handlers and bootlicker may want to force down the throats of unsuspecting and innocent citizens about the incessant and festering spate of insecurity in the state especially in Ibadan” this essayist chimed in “the reality on ground has transparently shown that in the wake of February 10, 2022 attack on a Bullion Van by armed to the teeth and well-coordinated robbers around Idi Ape area of Ibadan, which claimed three lives and halted vehicular movement for hours; it’s now crystal clear, without any doubt, that now, more than any other moment in recent time, commuters in Ibadan and Oyo state in general now live in palpable apprehension, fear and panic, one that’s a tragic reminder of and akin to NURTW destructive days pre-Abiola Ajimobi era”.

That is why coming out to tell the already panicked and frightened people that the state government is opening a communication channel with their tormentor-in-chiefs, remains the height of insensitivity which obviously beats every stretch of imagination. Plus, it also shows this government will continue to shoot itself in the leg not just because election is around the corner but because the various giant strides that will defined this regime will be inconsequential when issues of safety and security are put up for debate. For one, that planned engagement and peace talk is both counter-productive and nauseating.

In part because the real problem of insecurity in Oyo state is an inside-out, all-within and endogenous hydra-headed monster that must first be identified and tamed before it sliced the second term dream of this administration. Plus this government needs to reality check itself, identify where shoe pinches, retrace its steps before coming out to embarrass the people through its absolutely suicidal and counter-productive policy or programs. In a way, this kind of self-own action plan may helps explain the continuous setback and drawback most initiatives and interventions on insecurity continue to meet. To understand how this government has partially absconds from its responsibility, it helps to look at events right from the start of the regime, because it was from there the Government started to point an accusing finger on the opposition party for the spate in the various existential crisis rocking the state.

But when that blame game failed, because opposition members were in rude shock after losing the governorship election; it resorted to blaming non state actors for the state security woes. As expected, that shifting of goal post also fell by the wayside. Consequently, the state government basking on the glow of being on the opposition to the government at the centre also blamed the security architecture of the country which empowers the state with tiny, infinitesimal and little power to flush out criminals from their hideouts. In a way, this claim remains valid because state governors cannot even appoint the commissioner of police in their states — a situation that made them toothless bulldog that can only bark but cannot bite. In continuation of its persistent blame game, lastly, the state government says cults groups, area boys, gangsters, hooligans and other militant groups are behind the growing escalation of fear, panic and apprehension coursing through the length and breathe of the state. As usual, this cheap blackmail will also hit the brickwall.

As this government scampers for solutions for its numerous though self-inflicted security challenges, it first needs to show true, sincere and genuine commitment at reducing the atrocious activities of cultists, gangsters, hooligans and area boys. Plus, it also needs to ask what made it dalliance with known political thugs thick in the first instance. Because for all intents and purposes, area boys, cult groups, and hooligans are acutely aware there is no justification for mollycoddling with one area boys while using brute force on another. It’s counter-intuitively suicidal and spells perils and pitfalls.

OYO101, Muftau Gbadegesin’s opinion on issues affecting Oyo State, is published on Saturdays. He can be reached via muftaugbadegesin@gmail.com and 09065176850.

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