…Says RUGA policy is intended to take our lands
A first class traditional ruler in Osun State, the Elegboro of Ijebujesa, Oba Moses Oluwafemi Agunsoye speaks on the increasing rate of kidnapping and other forms of insecurity in the Southwest region.
The monarch in a chat with newsexplorersng.com advocates State and community policing as remedy to the persistent insecurity challenges in the country. Excerpts.
What should the government do to check the growing menace of insecurity in the Southwest region and other parts of the country?
The ugly trend is worrisome and it calls for decisive actions. Insecurity is everywhere. In fact Ori-Ade local government was declared a flashpoint because of this.
But the good news is that royal fathers in the State have been working round the clock to complement the efforts of the government to curb the menace.
The government should stop illegal mining operations and the herdsmen because most of these evils are perpetrated by these people.
They should introduce cattle ranching rather than allow the herdsmen to move around the State destroying farms and farm produce.
Farming and livestock are agriculture produce and when either of this is destroyed, it affects the other and if nothing is done, it could cause food crisis.
And if there is scarcity of foods, it will further compound the insecurity challenges we are currently facing.
I am therefore appealing to our governors in the Southwest region to take decisive actions to arrest the insecurity challenges.
In my opinion, the best approach to addressing the ugly trend is to introduce community policing. Our local hunters and vigilantes are there ready for the challenge. But we cannot engage their services without the approval of the government. Also we cannot sit back, fold our arms and watch the kidnappers abduct and kill our people.
I am calling on the Federal Government to approve for us a replica of the Civilian Joint Task Force that operates in the Northeast region.
If we can establish local vigilance group to complement the efforts of the Nigeria Police and the paramilitary, cases of kidnapping, armed robbery and other crimes will be reduced.
Aside this, the government need to assign mandates to royal fathers to be able to exercise authority over some of these issues. We also need financial backing because the local police, if approved need to be encouraged and funded.
Considering the sophistication of the weaponry used by kidnappers, fighting insecurity is beyond the use of stick.
Our vigilantes need to be equipped with arms and ammunitions and to achieve this, we require government’s support. I can assure you that our environment will be peaceful if illegal mining operations could be banished and ranching is introduced.
Are you advocating for the creation of State/Community policing?
Definitely, I am calling on the government to consider state policing. It is the best remedy to our insecurity challenges in Southwest and indeed in the entire country.
With community policing, residents who are conversant with themselves and with the topography of their community take charge of security responsibilities. They can easily identify strangers among themselves.
They can easily penetrate the bushes and the nooks and crannies of the community in search of criminal elements and lend hands to the police who are obviously overwhelmed and in minimum number.
In Ori-Ade Local Government, there are less than 1000 policemen securing over 5million people. But if we have local policemen to complement their efforts, the security would improve and stress reduced.
We’ll travel as far as 150km to Ibokun where the Area Command is located in the case of any security breach. Many things would have happened before the arrival of the police.
Again, in Ijebujesa, there are less than 20 policemen who are not adequately equipped. Considering its population and the various business establishments and educational institutions located here, this isn’t enough.
But if security is localised, we can appeal to our people to donate motorcycles to be used by the local vigilantes to comb the entire community.
It is quite unfortunate that the Federal government don’t want to allow State police for the fear that it could be hijacked by unscrupulous politicians.
But can we because of this allow ourselves to be maimed and our treasures taken away? So I want the government to consider community policing as a remedy to our security challenges.
What’s your thought on the suspended RUGA policy?
The rural grazing area policy is aimed at forcefully taking away our lands and giving it to strangers. The policy is not acceptable to us in Southwest. It is not acceptable to us also in Osun State.
The cattle rearing business is a multi-million naira business. So they should be able to acquire or lease land for their business in their region.
If RUGA is allowed, it’s an open invitation to ethnic clashes when they encroach on another man’s land.
It is argued that the suspension of RUGA denies Nigerian youth employment opportunities?
RUGA can’t create employment but Cattle ranching can generate more employment. Cattle ranching can create ten or more employment in an area. Within the ranch, you will sink a borehole and other equipment. Cattle ranching employs more than RUGA.
RUGA policy intends for cattle to settle on the riverine which is not best for our farmers. The farmers need water as well as the cattle. But if they are allowed, all the farm produce would be destroyed.
How far have you gone in achieving your developmental agenda for Ijebujesa town?
We are doing all we can to bring about development to Ijebujesa. We have inaugurated the Igboro Chamber of Commerce and Industry which is targeted at empowering and creating employment for our youths.
Our technical team are working round the clock to ensure the smooth implementation of our agenda.
Ijebujesa is largely an agrarian community hence our determination to create employment through this while adding value to the lives of the farmers.
Until now, farmers are not getting adequate reward on their farm produce. They sweat and labour in vain.
We are talking to the State government to include plantain chips into the State’s school feeding project.
We have millions of school children in Osun state and under the plantain chips production, farmers will supply plantain, our youths will be employed to process, packaged and distribute the product.
Our focus is on small scale industries, youth empowerment and entrepreneurial development to complement President Muhammadu Buhari’s effort at creating jobs for the youths.
The government has approved the establishment of technical college in Ijebujesa to train our youths in motor vehicle mechanics, refrigeration and air-conditioning, fabrication and welding, electrical installation, carpentry and joinery.
I am therefore appealing to our youths to tap into this golden opportunity for self-development.
The elders who have learnt the trade in the Stone Age are not left out. They should come for refresher course and learn how to do things in a modern way using modern technology. This is to our advantage and it is open to all Nigerians.
However, permit me to mention some of my sons who have made Ijebujesa proud.
I am proud of Asiwaju Rotimi Obeisun who has invested a lot in Ijebujesa. The kind of investment he has in this town is unequal. I became the king in November 2017 and by February 2018, we commissioned almost 10 projects which are still functioning optimally.
What’s your expectation from the Osun State government?
We are expecting the government to bring development to our community. It is the responsibility of the government to provide social and infrastructure amenities.
We expect construction of roads and opening of the rural roads, electricity, potable waters, affordable housing and other projects that will add value to human lives.
So, we cannot do without all of these. We cannot do it alone. Ours is to complement the efforts of the government.
How is life in retirement as a king?
By the grace of God, I am enjoying it. I turned 60 years in January 24, 2017 and I have to retire. Immediately after my retirement, I took my leave to rest outside the country. There came the death of my predecessor in March and by September, 2017 selection for a new king was made and I was chosen.
God has been so gracious to me because I was made the king the same year I retired from service. It was a divine intervention. I see it as another opportunity given to me by God to serve my people. I give thanks to God for the opportunity and to my people for their love and support.