A delegation from the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) visited Shasha community in Ibadan, on Tuesday, declaring that the recent mayhem in the community that resulted in loss of lives and properties is not a tribal conflict but only a regrettable and spontaneous reaction to emotions.
Governor Abubakar Bagudu (Kebbi) made this declaration when he led Governors Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara) and Abubakar Bello (Niger) on an on-the-spot assessment visit to Shasha market as well as meetings with the Baale Shasha, Amusa Akinade-Ajani and Seriki Shasa, Haruna Maiyasin.
The NGF delegation was accompanied on the assessment tour by host governor, Seyi Makinde; Deputy Inspector General of Police, David Folawiyo; Oyo Commissioner of Police, Ngozi Onadeko; Special Adviser to Governor Seyi Makinde on Security, Fatai Owoseni; various security chiefs.
Describing the destruction of lives and properties as condemnable and unfortunate, Bagudu cautioned against attachment tribal colourations, noting that Hausas, Yorubas, Igbos and other tribes alike suffered losses in the Shasha crisis.
He noted that the crisis was triggered by undercurrents and disagreements about the emergence of the leadership of Shasha market and the social media instigating pent-up anger.
Bagudu decried that hoodlums, miscreants keen on looting and causing mayhem also exploited the situation resulting in carnage.
He particularly cautioned young people against exuberance and taking laws into their hands and using the social media to wrongly portray situations thereby creating mayhem in the country.
Pointing to the long history of the relationship between the Yorubas and Hausas, and the historical nature of Ibadan, the Kebbi governor called for a united voice against aggressive elements and those stoking fear and intent on causing mayhem.
“We saw the destruction at Shasha market but more than the destruction was the regrettable loss of lives that was caused by both a regrettable and condemnable spontaneous response to emotions. This is because both the Hausa and Yoruba communities were unanimous that two issues led to this situation. There has been contention over the leadership of the Shasha market even though the Seriki Shasha and Baale of Shasha are in agreement about leadership.
“But other interested groups were not so in agreement. Therefore, there was this undercurrent playing out then the trigger. There was somebody pushing a wheelbarrow with tomatoes and it fell in front of a shop. One would have thought that ordinarily, that was normal in a market. But once emotions are pent up and social media instigating, we had the situation we had which included loss of lives.
“As we speak, it is certain that some people are in hiding or afraid about what will happen. It is all on us to ensure that we communicate properly so that those who are living in fear whether in Ibadan or outside Ibadan who fears that there may be reprisal to know that the Nigeria Governors Forum and President Muhammadu Buhari, security agencies are working hard to ensure that we treat things for what they are.
“To those outside Ibadan, particularly in Northern states, we want to extend that a regrettable, spontaneous incident has happened but it is not a tribal conflict.
“We must warn our young people who are exuberant in taking laws into their hands to know that the social media can portray that story wrongly and no matter how right we are, we can create mayhem in our land which we don’t want to do. The Hausas, Yorubas have a deep, long relationship ditto other Nigerians,” Bagudu said.
Bagudu asserted that normalcy was returning to Ibadan, calling on communities housing Hausas, Igbos, Yorubas and other tribes that may be living in fear to be quick to approach the state government for the fears to be addressed.
He allayed the fears, especially of reprisals, in some quarters, noting that Governor Seyi Makinde has assured of a commitment to ensuring that communities live without fear.
Bagudu asserted gladness of the NGF that Ibadan was calm and that people are supporting each other for a return to normalcy.
He assured that the NGF will support the Oyo State governor in rebuilding the market and was set to mobilise more funds towards the cause at a wider forum.
As a matter of urgency, Bagudu said the NGF had provided some money to assist the displaced persons pending when the market will be reopened and subsequently rebuilt.
“We are glad that the governor is rendering assistance. We, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum are also going to support him. In fact, we have given a token to support those who are already displaced and we will meet at a wider forum tomorrow and I am sure more support will be mobilized.
“We will support the governor in restoring peace and order and ensuring that this does not trigger retaliation elsewhere.
“We have seen the extent of destruction in the market that affected both Yorubas, Hausas, even among the dead are Hausas and non-Hausas. But this carnage is one too many and we pray that the people who are instigating will always listen and appreciate that we can do better together and we pray we continue to be on this path.
“The Nigerian Governors’ Forum, having seen the extent of the destruction, will send a message of support to our governor to help in the reconstruction and pacification. We will give immediate help today to help with what you have been doing. We pray Nigeria will continue on its march towards peace.
“Nigerians should know that the spontaneity of what has happened has happened regrettably but, as we speak, normalcy is being returned to Ibadan. There are no people chasing each other in Ibadan, as we speak, and that is commendable. We have heard how commendable the conduct of security agencies has been.
“There will be people still living in fear and that is why we all need to mobilise to ensure we contain the situation, in terms of giving them comfort to come out and resume their normal activities. There are no trucks parking Nigerian to other parts of Nigeria.
“What we see is a city that has been traumatized by an unfortunate incident but is working hard to rebuild and we must encourage and commend all to continue doing so. We know that the governor is working hard. He has been supported by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“It is a regrettable conflict that the different communities in Oyo are working and holding each other’s hands to sort out,” Bagudu added.
I will reopen market only if… ― Makinde
In his remarks, Governor Seyi Makinde asked the residents of Shasha to trust his administration’s judgment on ensuring peaceful coexistence in Shasha and across the state.
He said the Shasha market will be reopened as soon as he can extract commitment and assurances of the market and community stakeholders that there won’t be further bloodletting.
Told that some Shasha traders had relocated to Iroko area of the same Akinyele local government, Makinde said he won’t hesitate to shut the said Iroko market too.
Makinde said, “I don’t want further loss of lives. I know everyone is here to make a living. Let’s sheathe our swords. We have all lived together peacefully.
“What we want is progress and development of our society. The Seriki Shasha and Baale Shasha have met and you have to trust our judgment as a government.
“There cannot be progress where there is chaos. For those who went to Iroko for trading activities, I will also shut that place.
“If you all cooperate and agree on how there won’t be bloodletting here anymore, you will come to meet me then I will reopen the market. We beg you that I don’t want the loss of lives anymore.”
He also cautioned against persons using the social media to stoke crisis, while describing attempts to politicize the issue of security in the state as appalling.
“You can see that for those who are trying to politicize security, it is appalling. Nigeria transcends APC, PDP and that is why we are pulling together in one accord to find a solution that will restore peace to Oyo state and to our country.
“Some people promoting fake news stay abroad and are stoking fire here, and people who are not aware easily buy into it and start doing something that we will regret later. People are here looking to make a living.
“I ask the promoters of fake news and divisive news to desist. Let us have the chance to give our people the opportunity to earn their decent living,” Makinde said.
Those interested in market leadership behind mayhem ― Yoruba, Hausa community heads
Both the Baale Shasha, Amusa Akinade-Ajani and Seriki Shasha, Haruna Maiyasin asserted their commitment to the peaceful coexistence of all tribes.
They decried that those keen on the management of the market are behind the crisis and called on the state government to arrest and deal with such persons.
They appealed to the state governor and his governor-counterparts to see to the rebuilding of the market, in no distant time.
In particular, the Baale Sasa, Amusa Akinade-Ajani said: “The visiting governors should assist the host governor. We do not discriminate against any tribe; we believe we are of the same family. We want peaceful coexistence of all tribes here.
“We want a return to how we have been coexisting in Shasha. It is unbelievable to hear that some people are moving to settle in another place within the same Akinyele local government. We can’t approve of them selling in another place and then coming here to sleep at night.
“Government should arrest and deal with anyone causing crisis. We are no longer fighting. We want to live in peace; we are not fighting with Hausa, Igbo. We know those causing trouble; help us take them away from Akinyele local government.
“We don’t want people to beat drums of war. We welcome anyone who wants to trade at Shasha market peacefully. We welcome anyone that will live here in peace.”