Saki-born former Director of Military Intelligence, Gen. Ajibola Kunle Togun, has revealed how he wrote Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, more than three times without answer, on the need to curtail herdsmen, who have been harassing the people of Oke Ogun for the last 25 years.
Toogun, a former Deputy Director of States Security Service, was at the Awka Sector of the Nigerian Army during the 1967-70 civil war.
He said that he played a key role in the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari and re-election of Ajimobi in Oke Ogun and Ibarapa and even Ibadan, explaining that someone came to him in Saki and “told me that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said he should hand over campaign posters for Oke Ogun to me and I said I didn’t know Osinbajo. But I suspected it would be Buhari that sent them. Immediately, I set to work. They should check the votes. When the president got voted in, a classmate of mine with whom I did HSC in 1962, said ‘we heard all your efforts for Buhari, please make sure that [Abiola] Ajimobi also gets voted for as governor in Oyo State for a second term.”
He continued: “I wrote a report of my activities on the 10 local governments in Oke Ogun, Ibarapa and Ibadan. I have about 2,000 of my supporters in Ibadan and in that report, I said I was not asking for money, but that I wanted to know what will be committed to the people, that Buhari and then Ajimobi would do. I sent a copy to Ajimobi and I have written to him three times that I wanted to discuss the issue of security with him; he has not answered me till date.
“What I wanted to discuss with him is the issue of these herdsmen. Now, the thing is getting out of hand now. In April 2015, I said I wanted to discuss security with him, but till date, I have not been able to.”
Saying that he was sure the governor got his letters, Toogun, who is now an Evangelist, said, ”He cannot tell me he didn’t get them. But I do not want to appear as someone who is looking for appointments or something. So I am just watching. As I said earlier, we all do not have to join politics, but Nigerians should recognise the brains they have and listen to their advice.”
On the solution to the menace of herdmen, Toogun who joined the Army in 1968 after leaving the University of Ife, recounted how his maize farm was grazed on.
“I retired in April 1996; my farm in Saki that time was about 150 hectares of land. I had another farm in Ago-Are. In October 1996, my younger brother died and I had to sort out the burial arrangements so I could not visit my farm in Ago-Are. After the burial, I went to the farm and my almost 100 hectares of maize had been grazed on. I reported and they introduced politics into it. They said they investigated, that Abacha sent someone to investigate, but no one came to me. That was the time they said I was harassing people. General Buhari came to Ibadan during former Governor Lam Adesina’s time to meet him that Oke-Ogun people were killing Fulani herdsmen, whereas, it was the herdsmen that were killing people anyhow. They would enter your farm, graze on your farm and you cannot talk.
”Just last week, they macheted a man in Oje-Owode here. The boy got to his farm and saw that cows had trampled on his maize farm and grazed on it. He traced the footsteps of the cows and saw the herdsmen and challenged them; they stripped him naked and macheted him mercilessly. Many of these herdsmen carry AK 47 about.
“The Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) commission invited me to Lagos three years ago for a lecture and I told them this thing. I was also in Abuja last June; all of us who were former directors of military intelligence were invited to Abuja by the current director of military intelligence. He tabled the security challenges of the country and we all had to make contributions. When it came to the issue of Fulani herdsmen, people said different things. When it came to my turn, I said these Fulani herdsmen, who the Northerners see as part of them, are foreigners. They are foreigners; they are from Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger Republic and Chad; that is why they are so merciless. They are of no fixed address. I told them that Fulani people should call these herdsmen and ask where they come from in Northern Nigeria and ask them who their district heads are. The herdsmen are not Nigerians. I am a security man and I know my level of security status in the world. Some of these herdsmen were Al-Qaeda terrorists who took over Northern Mali and France had to send troops while ECOWAS and African Union added troops to expel them from Northern Mali and hand over the territory back to Mali. That was where they came about their assault rifles. Why are security agents not investigating how Fulani herdsmen are going about with AK 47? I told them in Abuja that you call them Fulani, but we call them Bororo in Oke Ogun and they have been harassing us for the past 25 years; it is not a joke. I said at DAWN three years ago that the 10 local governments of Oke Ogun and three local governments of Ibarapa were under the siege of herdsmen, but nobody listened and I see the invasion of these people as if someone is trying to expand their territory to Yorubaland.”
He spoke on how grazing routes came about. “How can anyone legislate on grazing routes? How? How much grazing routes have these people been given in the North? They are now saying we should give grazing routes.
“Let me tell you, from a very long time ago, they used to take cows from the North to Lagos on foot. That was when they used to pass through here and that is what they are now saying that there used to be grazing routes. Who created the grazing routes? The Fulani herdsmen we grew up to know around here do not graze on anyone’s farm; we lived with them for decades. But these foreign invaders come and start grazing on people’s farms. They go to people’s farms to graze and tell you do you want their cows to die and once you challenge them, they shoot and kill. You see, things are happening and some idiots are sitting down somewhere making case for non-Nigerians. And do they know that if we give grazing grounds to these clowns, tomorrow they will say they own the place. That was what started the problem in Jos till date. That was what started the problem in Agatu. And someone expects that to happen in the South-West? Nobody should give grazing grounds in the South-West.”
He disclosed how he mooted the idea of an Oke-ogun as the next Oyo governor, in 2019.
Hear him: “That idea is mine. I am not interested in contesting or being appointed. During the time of UNCP, they sent for me and I went to Ibadan. They said they wanted me as the senator for Oyo North and I said I was not interested. So, let us address the 2019 issue. After the 2015 elections, I met APC members in Saki and I asked them who are the other key APC leaders in Oke Ogun; they asked me why and I told them that since Ajimobi had come to Saki and Oke Ogun to appreciate them for voting for him to win a second term, then we should also pay him a visit and also thank him for appreciating us. We would then tell him that we want an Oke Ogun indigene to be governor of Oyo State in 2019 and that we have told you, tell us who we should go and meet again in the APC. But the people started dilly-dallying; it was later that I learnt that if that was done, they were afraid that I would emerge the leader of the APC in Oke Ogun.
“But the idea of having an Oke Ogun man as the next governor is a good one that all zones in Oyo State must give consideration to. It is in line with the principles of equity and fairness. Oke Ogun is the second largest zone in Oyo State after Ibadan, but only Ibadan and Ogbomoso have produced governors for over 20 years. So, I believe Oke Ogun should be given a chance.”
Revealing that he has not met the governor on the agitation, he said: ”The meeting never came up. But a young man came to me that they were working for an Oke Ogun agenda ahead of 2019 and I told him that the same thing had been on my mind. They had the first meeting in Otu and I was present there. I advised them that they would have opposition from politicians, traditional rulers and so on; I analysed everything and warned them against being hijacked. I have not heard much from them now.”
He said he has not made up his mind on whom to support in 2019. ”No. But I met the engineer, Remi Olaniyan, at a meeting of Oke Ogun traditional rulers held in Ago Are and he told me he would come and see me. Also, one day, a young man was here with Mrs Busari and he said he was Debo Adesina and that he has interest in being governor of Oyo State and I asked him which party he was going to use and he said he had not made up his mind yet. I asked him a few questions and he has phoned me a few times. No other person has told me he is contesting. So, for now, I cannot say I have made up my mind about anyone.”