The news coming out of Akoko in Ondo State, where the thugs of the All Progressives Congress’ Rotimi Akeredolu, under his supervision, ran amok in front of the Oba’s palace, shooting and destroying the vehicles of his rival, Eyitayo Jegede of the Peoples Democratic Party, requires the attention of all men of goodwill, especially President Muhammadu Buhari.
History must not repeat itself, as this ugly incident draws my mind back to 1983 when another Owo man was governor like Akeredolu in Ondo State. Those who were around then would shiver when they think back and remember the public disorder that became known as ‘wetie’.
A piece by Bayo Olupohunda in The Punch of November 8, 2016, captures the issue.
“The Second Republic, which was barely four years and three months old, was truncated when the military struck again in December of 1983 to bring to an end another corrupt and violent civilian regime. Once again, Ondo State, which had been carved out of the old Western Region as one of the five states created by former military ruler, Yakubu Gowon, erupted into an orgy of violence during the election of that year. One of Awolowo’s protégés, Adekunle Ajasin, was contesting re-election under the umbrella of the UPN. His deputy, Akin Omoboriowo, who had also fancied his chances had defected to the ruling NPN.
“He was backed by the federal might of the Shehu Shagari-led government. At the election, Ajasin had a clear lead, but the NPN, intent on taking the state from the UPN, had put Omoboriowo in a clear lead as a result was being announced. Then, the inevitable happened. The widespread protests that followed the announcement of Omoboriowo turned violent, and the state became a war front. Political thugs and supporters of both parties turned the state into a theatre of war.
“There were fears and apprehension as people loyal to one of the parties were targeted and killed. Houses were torched. The security agencies were powerless in a bid to rein in the perpetrators of the violence. In the end, Omoboriowo was driven out of the state and spent some time in exile. The 1983 violence was a repeat of the Western Region crisis. The effect of the violence was instant. It provided a further excuse for the military to put an end to the Second Republic that was already wracked by monumental corruption.”
Ondo is different in the Yoruba nation. They have demonstrated the ability to act their intention. They are brave, independent and fearless. Whosoever allows Ondo to go the way of violence risks too much. Mr President, you have a duty to read the riot act to all parties. Ondo must not go to the dogs. Rotimi Akeredolu, lose if you will, and go in peace, that you may salvage whatever is left of your battered image.