Governors of Nigeria’s southwestern states on Monday took on the senate president Dr. Ahmad Lawan, over his attack on them for allegedly inciting the recent ethnic violence, which erupted in some states in the region.
They, however, said they would not engage in a media war with those they described as crisis entrepreneurs and ‘divisionists’ on matters affecting the security of residents of the country, especially the Southwest.
Lawan, in an interview with the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), had accused the governors of instigating the crisis through their unguarded utterances.
He described what happened in some parts of the Southwest particularly, in Ibadan, Oyo State where the tension boiled over, resulting in a clash between Hausa and Yoruba traders at Shasha Market, as a failure of leadership.
But in a riposte to Lawan, Chairman of the Southwest Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ondo State, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), said the governors would not engage in a media war with any person or group of persons on matters affecting the security of residents of the country especially in the Southwest.
Akeredolu, in a statement by his Special Assistant on New Media, Mr. Olabode Olatunde, to THISDAY said: “At the risk of being repetitive, the Governor Akeredolu-led Southwest governors will not go into the arena of media conflict with crisis entrepreneurs and divisionists.”
Oyo State Governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde, also described the statement credited to Lawan as unnecessary and uncalled for.
Makinde’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, said his principal, alongside other governors in the Southwest, had worked and would continue to work for the peace of not only the region but the country.
He stated that Makinde has never hidden his position on state police as he believed that some forms of crime are better dealt with using state police.
Adisa said: “One good example of that is the implementation of the state’s anti-open grazing law. During his visit to Ibarapa recently, the governor decried the non-enforcement of the law, adding that such is an area state police would have helped.
“Crime is committed in localities and the existence of state police with people who know the nooks and crannies of areas will in no small way help in fighting crimes. The absence of that as it were, we can say is a hindrance to the wheel of justice on a larger note.”
The Ekiti State government also on Monday said it would not take issue with Lawan over his comment.
The state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Akin Omole, told THISDAY that the state government has no reason to respond to Lawan’s comment since Governor Kayode Fayemi was not directly accused and that there was no evidence of ethnic tension in the state.
Omole stated that since Lawan spoke about the Southwest governors, Akeredolu was the right person to reply because he accused the governors together.
The commissioner said the state government would have been ready to respond if Lawan had accused Fayemi of fuelling ethnic tension by his utterances.
“We are neither going to reply nor take issue with Senator Ahmad Lawan over the allegation. This is because he didn’t accuse Governor Fayemi of making any comment that could be perceived as fuelling ethnic tension.
“Since he spoke about the Southwest, the Chairman of the Southwest governors and Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, is the right person that will reply because he accused the governors together,” Omole added.
Speaking on giant actions being taken by Fayemi to foster ethnic harmony in Ekiti State, Omole said a committee comprising all ethnic nationalities had been composed to fine-tune arrangements on how all contending issues generating ripples could be tackled.
“You are all aware of the committee that has been sitting with all the security chiefs to address every contending issue. Representatives of Yoruba, Fulani, Ebira, Hausa, Igbo and others are there. Even our traditional rulers are involved.
“To us in Ekiti, we are not going to get involved in ethnic profiling on the issue of criminality. We will deal with every criminal based on what the law says, not minding where the perpetrators came from,” he said.
James Sowole in Akure, Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan, Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti