Governor Seyi Makinde has revealed that some people advised him to use force against EndSARS protesters in Oyo State.
OYOINSIGHT recalls that the protest in the Ibadan lasted for several days in the absence of Police officers who the Governor ordered to “stay away”.
According to the Governor, in a recent interview, the use of force in situations of heightened tension will not solve issues.
Speaking on how he managed the crisis in the state, the governor said: “I had to make a statewide broadcast on Monday, October 19, 2020, to appeal for calm and lay out our position on the protests. I supported the protests and we made it clear that I was for peaceful protest.
“On Tuesday, I visited the palace of the Soun of Ogbomosoland, Oba Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade III, and I did not expect the level of destruction we witnessed there. I accept the fact that peaceful protest is legitimate, and it is guaranteed under our constitution; but the type of destruction at the palace should not have happened at all. This is because the state government is not in control of SARS. Even though they will say the governor is the Chief Security Officer for the state, I always say it that we are not in control of the Commissioner of Police as governors. As a governor, I am not in control of who they will post here as commissioner. We just work with whoever we meet along the way. We made commitments to support the renovation of the palace and the repairs or replacement of the vehicles that were damaged – some of the vehicles are beyond repairs.
“I also visited the families of the deceased and told them that there is no amount of money we can give that can pacify the irreplaceable loss of their children. But I assured them that the government will assist. We put up a team to meet with the families and explore ways of assistance on a sustainable basis beyond cash provision. When I returned from Ogbomoso later that evening, I addressed the protesters who had massed at the secretariat here in Ibadan. Do you know that earlier, someone had suggested that we use force, but I said we could not use force, because I went to these youths when I was looking for votes. And I must say this, the approach we employed, which dwells more on reasonable engagement rather than the use of force, has paid off greatly.
“This dovetails into our decision not to impose a curfew, because we came to the informed conclusion that imposing a curfew at a period that tensions were high would only result into one thing, rebellion and to check a rebellion, you may want to exert pressure or force, which in the end will lead to whatever you wanted to avoid by imposing the curfew in the first place. Instead of imposing a curfew, we closed the schools within Ibadan, the state capital – that was penultimate Wednesday – and I made it clear that the closure of the schools would be reviewed on Friday, October 23, 2020. We did. And our pupils and students resumed last Monday.
“So, rather than use force, I reminded the protesters that they organised themselves and voted for me. And it was time for me to listen to them and ensure that whatever it is that they wanted done by our government, we would find a means to do it and we have stayed on that course.”
He also explained that unlike, other southwest states, he did not impose a curfew because it is a ‘catch 22 scenario’.
“The issue of curfew is a delicate thing and something similar happened during the very dark days of COVID-19. It’s a catch 22 scenario. At a wedding penultimate Saturday, I told the gathering that the rest of the country is acknowledging the fact that normalcy has returned to Oyo State without locking anywhere down. And I used the opportunity to thank everyone in the state for their cooperation, particularly our youths. They protested and communicated the grievances they had.
“Because of the love our people have for us, during this same #ENDSARS crisis, we were on the road inspecting projects because we were able to let our people know that we needed to think of solutions and not creating more problems or being destructive. Now, during COVID-19, most states were on lockdown, but we didn’t fully lock our state down. We imposed a curfew, first from 7:00p.m to 5:00a.m. Later we relaxed it to 8:00p.m to 5:00a.m and later from 10:00p.m to 4:00a.m, that was because of our farmers who needed to go out early to their farms, especially in the rural areas. I’m sure you all saw what happened to the states where total lockdown was imposed – the misery, the attendant discomfort of not being able to make a living for some time; and it was worse for petty traders and artisans who form the bulk of the population. We looked at the situation and decided that since this was a government of the people for the people and by the people, and since these same people voted for us massively, we needed to create a balance between public health and economic health of our people, through a creative and sustainable process that would cause minimal crisis and disruption to their lives. Those who imposed curfew meant well, but look at how it turned out. Yes, God has been good to us and we thank Him for His grace.”