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Between peace and violence as Oyo decides

Published by Tribune on Tue, 03 Feb 2015

It is a good thing to appraise the state of peace in Oyo State, as opposed to what it was before now. The world knows that the state was a bedlam before Governor Abiola Ajimobi took over the reins of office on May 29, 2011. Violence of the most horrendous form characterise the state. The violence that the state witnessed 2003 and 2011 made it a symbol of brigandage.True to his promise, Governor Ajimobi hit the ground running by proscribing the reactionary NURTW on June 6, 2011 as an aftermath of the violence that erupted at Iwo Road the previous day in which 20 people died. The governor did not allow any of the factions to operate until the national leadership of the union undertook to whip the warlords into line. To further instill sanity in the system, the governor inaugurated a joint security patrol squad on December 9, 2011, codenamed Operation Burst, whose personnel were deployed in the six geo-political zones of the state. Buoyed by the donation of three Armoured Personnel Carriers, 117 operational vehicles and seven power bikes by the state government, the alignment of forces restored peace and security in the state. To further boost the morale of the police, the governor refurbished grounded police patrol vans. The governor also established the Oyo State Security Trust Fund to engender public-private partnership on security in the state.The concomitant effect of the governor's efforts became manifest when more than eight industrial giants were attracted to the state. In a bid to further attract local and foreign investors, including in the agriculture sector, the government granted concession of between 70 and 90 per cent on land acquisition. Also, the government granted a substantial tax holiday for up to seven years to eligible industries.It is gratifying to know that industries such as Shoprite, Agric Tech, Oriental Foods, Joy Foods, Rahvet International Limited, Sajrom Farm Limited, Palm Royale Farm, Fedkot Nigeria Limited, HaulTrac Nigeria Limited, UPDC, HPC Architecture and Engineering Limited and Kamal Milk have berthed in Ibadan following the congenial environment. None of these giant companies could have come to the state when Ladoja and Akala's governments, renowned for unbridled violence, were in place. The bespatterd body of Eleweomo, a renowned anvil of past governments and their faithful, is enough for any sane person never to wish for a return to those gory old days.According to Ajimobi, the reversal of the old order of violence had generated close to one million direct and indirect employments for citizens of the state. In a similar vein, the National Bureau of Statistics put the capital inflow into the state at approximately $3.49 million in its third quarter report for 2014. This signaled an increase of 697 per cent when compared with the $500,000 recorded between the first and second quarter of the year.That only four murder cases were recorded in 2014 as listed in the state Police Command Crime Rates Statistics for the year pales into insignificance when compared with the 121 cases before 2011. Oyo State was also said to have recorded only four armed robbery incidents in the whole of 2014, with none affecting the banks. The only attempt to rob a new generation bank in Bodija was repelled by men of Operation Burst. Three kidnap cases were recorded as against 45 before 2011. The statistics also indicated that no single case of murder, arson or grievous harm and injury was reported at any police formation in 2014.In acknowledgment of Governor Ajimobi's peace-building efforts, the governor bagged an award as the Best Governor on Conflict Resolution in Nigeria from the Security Watch Africa, on October 19, 2012 in Ghana.It is equally not by happenstance that the British Deputy High Commissioner in Nigeria, Mr. Peter Carter, recognised that 'Ibadan is rapidly developing. It is very pleasant for me to be in the city that is fast looking into the future.' He was reported to have made the comment during a visit to Governor Ajimobi, as reported in the October 10, 2013 edition of The Nation newspaper.However, security agents should be commended for curtailing the crisis in the Born Foto and Popoyemoja areas of Ibadan in November/December 2014, which was instigated by street urchins to truncate the pervading peace in Oyo State.For us in the state, the story of our horrendous past at the hands of past governments of the state is not a fluke, even though it reads like one from Hammer House of Horror. It was a period of our lives that we will not pray to relive. If Nigeria were a country where statistics were sacred, by now, we would have been overwhelmed by the number of deaths recorded between the two regimes. Hundreds of families who lost their breadwinners in the fracas or the hundreds of others who were felled by stray bullets are living testimonies of the reign of terror of the past.As the February 28, 2015 governorship election beckons, the choice before the electorate is between the peace and industrial development associated with the Ajimobi's government and the violence and brigandage that reigned supreme when two of his two major contenders ruled the state as governors.Inakoju teaches in a secondary school in Ibadan.
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