Aare Okikiola Aremu Kamorudeen is the President General of Agbekoya Farmers Association.
Kamorudeen seldom speaks except it has to do with farmers’ welfare and issues affecting the South West geo-political zone.
In this interview, the Agbekoya leader gives an insight into how his group, in collaboration with the Ooni of Ife and other traditional rulers in the South West, doused the tension brought about by the activities of marauding herdsmen in the region.
He also speaks on other burning national issues.
How will you assess the security situation in the country especially in the South West?
The security situation of this country is still not yet okay, although the Nigeria Police and other security agencies are putting in their best. However, the Federal Government needs to equip them very well and also use local security to tackle criminal activities in their respective regions.
In the South West for instance, they should use their local security like the Agbekoya, the Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, and local hunters to fight crime the region.
We no longer hear about herdsmen attacks in the South West, what is responsible for this and what role did your association play to douse the tension?
At the peak of kidnappings, raping and killing by the marauding herdsmen in the region, the police tried their best, but the crime rate was on the increase.
The national executives of Agbekoya therefore called for an emergency meeting.
At that meeting, we agreed to contribute money to send Agbekoya vigilante men to comb the bushes and forests and flush out those criminal herdsmen from Yoruba land.
We were able to do this with the help and prayer of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan as well as other Yoruba Obas.
We performed the necessary traditional rituals in addition to individual prayers, but we did not make any noise about this. Within three months, cases of kidnapping, rape and killing of innocent people were greatly reduced to the barest minimum and that is why you no longer hear of such today in the South West.
The South West governors some time ago came up with the idea of a security outfit tagged: Operation Amotekun which is however yet to take off.
What do you think is responsible for the delay and has your group been contacted to be part of the operation?
We heard that the South West Governors held a meeting and concluded to form Operation Amotekun, which is a good idea; But the South West Governors don’t take the security of lives and property of the people seriously.
We however believe that Operation Amotekun, will help the police to reduce the crime rate. The South West governors did not contact us officially about the security outfit, but they should know that farmers’ security is very important. When the herdsmen were committing all sorts of crimes like kidnappings, rape and killings, some farmers ran for their life.
How many people remained in the farms at that time?
If the governors call on us, we are ready to work with them to help our region. Agbekoya recently tackled the governors in the region for failing to invest in agriculture and you issued a 21-day ultimatum to that effect.
What informed this?
We tackled the South West governors for failing to invest in agriculture, because when the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was the premier of the Western Region, agriculture was the government’s main business.
During that period, Cocoa House was built, roads were constructed, there were farm settlements and a lot of things, all over the region. There was no crude oil at that time and they assisted farmers then; But today, agricultural business is now the worst in the South West.
No one is willing to assist the real farmers in terms of providing fertilizers, loans, tractors and other farming tools. As a result of this, farmers suffer on a daily basis.
The bank set up by the Federal Government to help the agriculture business is not assisting farmers. President Muhammadu Buhari means well for farmers but the cabals around him don’t love farmers.
The only thing that can stop the planned protest by the Agbekoya farmers Association and Farmers Association in the South West is for the governors to reply to our letters or they come out with a blueprint on agricultural business. We are tired of fake promises. Political leaders, who rule us in the South West should fear God.
What is Agbekoya’s position on the election of Professor Banji Akintoye as the new Yoruba leader?
The position of Agbekoya on the election of Prof. Banjo Akintoye, is that anybody who is going to be Yoruba leader will not be elected. Prof Akintoye is not accepted by Yoruba as their leader and Agbekoya can never accept him.
The Yoruba are wise people, their leader emerges based on merit. Prof Banji Akintoye is the leader of an association called Yoruba World Congress which he established himself. He is therefore not the Yoruba leader. When the time comes, a Yoruba leader will emerge and this is will be by a consensus and not an election.
When late Chief Obafemi Awolowo became Yoruba leader, it was not by election, Papa Adekunle Ajasin and late Abraham Adesanya also emerged Yoruba leaders, not through an election.
Do you think the DAWN Commission has helped in aiding regional integration in the South West?
Well, the regional integration helped us during the Western Region, because our leaders focused on the business of agriculture. Each region produced the products that helped in developing the region.
Things are not that bad in Nigeria but money is being diverted into other things. President Buhari closed the border for the benefits of our farmers, but there is no development in South West in terms of agriculture business, our leaders only pay lip service to agriculture.
The farmers in the South West want the Ooni of Ife, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, and other traditional rulers to talk to the South West Governors.
The level of farming has decreased because our youths are no longer interested in it. (Vanguard)