In Governor Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu’s Ondo State, wonders, it seems, will never end! Thrice within a space of two months, terrorist attacks were reported in Owo, the governor’s home town. This is apart from such attacks in other parts of the state. Is Ondo State slipping into the category of “failed states”?
The first of the attacks, on 5 Junewas at the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Owaluwa, Owo, in which not less than 40 people were killed and many others wounded. The state government has been tepid in providing follow-up information on that unfortunate incident. Is it true that the terrorists have been fished out? How many of them? What was their motive? And when will they have their day in court?
Answers to these questions, especially the motives behind the attack, become germane because on 28 July when gunmen again reportedly attacked the town; gunshots and explosions were said to have been heard in which a number of people were also reported to have sustained varying degrees of injuries. Was this also a terrorist attack or a routine factory accident? Where detailed and prompt information is not provided, all manner of unsubstantiated information will take over the public space. I think it is for the purpose of providing timely and accurate information that state governments have a plethora of media aides with all manner of titles. Where they are allowed to function as the professionals that they are, there should be no reason why accurate and timely information beneficial to all and sundry should not be churned out at regular intervals.
Last Friday, a traditional ruler and some other fellows in the same vehicle with the Kabiyesi reportedly fell victim to terrorists around Ago-Panu village along the Owo-Ikare Road. That village is also known as Ago-Egbira because of the preponderance of Ebira people in that largely farming community. It was where my mother spent the greater part of her adult life farming and trading.
The question must then be asked: Why Owo? Or are these incidents mere coincidences or happenstance? We need to know! We also need to know what the government is doing to keep the state safe by ridding it of criminal elements. Note that Akeredolu recently raised an alarm about terrorists trooping down South from the North: Are these attacks traceable to that unholy migration? We need to know!
In fairness to Akeredolu, he has done something. Crying out is one of the actions he has taken – and I must confess that in our present dire and perilous situation, this is very important. We have many governors who are afraid – or have been so compromised – that they cannot even as much as offer a whimper. Akeredolu has also directed that CCTV be installed in strategic places and institutions in the state. We need to know how far this has been done. Recently, he also reportedly distributed operation vehicles to security agencies in the state to beef up security. Fantastic! But how far has that made the state safe or safer? We need to know! It is our right to know!
There is a question I have asked, which concerns Akeredolu’s security votes. He needs to tell us how much and how he applies them. Last week, I sighted the pay slip of a teacher in the state where N1,500 was deducted under the heading “Amotekun” .One explanation said the deduction was to help equip Amotekun and transform it into a fighting force able to confront the security challenges facing the state. Another said some teacher(s) got kidnapped and their union in the state could not raise the ransom money demanded by the kidnappers. So, it approached the state government for a loan and the deduction that I sighted was to offset that facility!
Pray, which of the two explanations appears more ludicrous? What is Akeredolu doing with his security votes? There are too many vexatious and worrisome news swirling around this subject. It is time we know!
Former Deputy Editor-in-Chief of PUNCH newspapers, also Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Westerner newsmagazine, Bolawole maintains columns in the Sunday Tribune and New Telegraph newspapers. He is also a public affairs analyst on radio and television. He can be reached by email on firstname.lastname@example.org and +2347052631058