“Olakunrin” and the rest of us – By Abdulyassar Abdulhamid


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If things went as arranged, the late Funke Olakunrin, the daughter of the leader of Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, who was ruthlessly murdered by marauders must have been interned by now.

According to some reports, commendation night of tributes for the deceased would take place on Friday, July 19, at Harbour Point, Wilmot Road, Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos State at 5pm and the internment on Monday July 22 at Saint David Cathedral, Ijomu, Ondo State.

It is a pity that an innocent soul that would have been in the company of her beloved within the comfort of the four walls of her abode has been taken for no other reasons than selfish ones. For what crime was she killed?

It is good President Buhari personally called Pa Fasoranti, condoled with him and, through a statement signed by his special assistant on media and publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, directed security agencies to forthwith swing into action and bring the hoodlums to book.

It is good also the Senate is organizing a national security summit to address the lingering security challenges in the country.

On July 16, 2019, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, announced this while responding to a debate on the motion sponsored by Senator Ayo Akinyelure, representing Oyo Central, on the state of insecurity and murder of Mrs. Funke Olakunrin.

However, there are two narratives on the circumstances which led to the late Olakunrin’s death: the police’s and Afenifere’s spokesperson, Yinka Odumakin:

The police command in Ondo State has given details of how suspected criminals, reportedly, in a kidnapping attempt, shot and killed Mrs. Funke Olakunrin.

The command’s spokesman, Femi Joseph, said that the incident occurred between Kajola and Ore along Ondo-Ore road on Friday, where some hoodlums about 15 in number, attacked two vehicles, one Toyota Land Cruiser and the other Camry, as reported by Premium Times. 

Speaking to newsmen, Mr. Joseph said that he could not confirm if the attackers were Fulani herdsmen and until an arrest was made and investigation conducted, it would be difficult to identify the people, their region or tribal affiliation.

“No, you can’t shave the head of a man in his absence. You have to wait for us to arrest them. Somebody you have not arrested, it is difficult for you to establish his ethnicity, crime is a crime and a criminal is a criminal,” Joseph said.

In an interview entitled “we have no problem with cows, but marauding herders” and published in Daily Trust of Saturday, July 20, 2019 Afenifere’s spokesperson, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, claimed in a matter-of-fact tone that the deceased was murdered by some Fulani herdsmen as some eyewitnesses testified to him. 

According to him, Mrs. Funke Olakunrin was targeted going by the circumstantial evidences abound and there has been a series of kidnappings in “their” land and all eyewitness accounts point to the fact that they are being perpetrated by Fulani Herdsmen. 

Notwithstanding either of the two narratives, we must sympathize with the family and relatives of late Mrs. Funke Olakunrin, especially Pa Fasoranti, who has lost his first born, as many other Nigerians who still bear the indelible scars left by the loss of their beloved to the great beyond.

Like Odumakin, I am troubled too, and every right-thinking Nigerian should be, by the spate of insecurity in this country.  There are kidnapping cases at almost every angle of the country. Human blood is being spilt on daily basis. It seems very few are safe. At home, markets, hospitals, places of worship and on the farms Nigerians are scared. Where should Nigerians be safe then? Nowadays even kids as old as five year or less are being kidnapped by even family members for ransom and they end up being killed to cover the tracks of the perpetrators, as the recent case in my state. 

Recently, a family in Kano lost its eight-year-old child, who was abducted by unknown criminals. Another lost its five-year-old child to teenage kidnappers. On Wednesday July 17, 2019, suspected armed bandits attacked villages in Goronyo Local Government Area of Sokoto State and killed at least 20 people. The list goes on and on. 

The only serious bone of contention here is: as we condemn the deplorable condition of Nigeria’s security, we should not allow group feelings to overcloud our sense of reasoning. Death should not be politicized. It would not augur well for either of the family or the country.

Furthermore, it is true ominous cloud is hanging on the firmament of this country. At the very moment the country is mourning this loss, some politicians with vested interests are busy taking advantage of the unfortunate happening to make insensitive and provocative utterances.

Writers, who should ideally be humane, are turning their pens into rifles and their voices bugles of war. The fifth columnists, who will not give a damn if Nigeria breaks up today, is frantically setting one region or tribe against the other.        

Take for example one very popular online newspaper, which is very desperate to draw analogy between Olakunrin’s demise and Afenifere’s rebuttal of the establishment of Ruga settlements in the country.

The newspaper was unrelenting in its effort to pass the murder for a reprisal attack by the so called Fulani herdsmen to get even with Afenifere which was against Ruga settlements line, hook and sinker.

I think the issue of Ruga settlements has been settled. The presidency had retracted its steps. Any region, with regards to the matter will be the master of its own fate.  For instance, Kano State Government has set up a high-powered committee on Ruga settlements and Zamfara State is considering one. To be sincere, the north must, no matter what, bear the brunt. Its sin is that it sires the Fulanis.

On Monday July 15, 2019, we woke up to another mind-boggling open letter by Olusegun Obasanjo. The letter is the same as the two before it in boldness, bluntness and recklessness.

To do justice to the letter and its writer, for its covert mood and the writer’s conspicuous tone, most of the issues raised therein can be said to be true of Nigeria’s condition today. 

Something of apocalyptic gives away its writer. Obasanjo wrote: “the criminality is being perceived as a ‘Fulani’ menace unleashed by Fulani elite in [the] different parts of the country” and President Buhari is one of those “Fulani elites”. This is coming from the mouth of somebody who should have been an elder statesman by virtue of plum positions he has occupied in this country. Why are the Gowons et al not being recklessly outspoken like Obasanjo? His stand on national issues is, to say the least, unstatesmanlike, unpatriotic and tribalistic!

Once upon a time Obasanjo was the captain of this ship called Nigeria. He served as a military ruler from February 13, 1976 to October 1, 1979 and as a democratically elected president from 29 May 1999 to May 29, 2007. The old general is one of the very few Nigerians alive who knows the in and out of this country – its extraordinary complexity and diversity. 

In almost the 12 years he spent in power there were numerous high profile and plebeian killings, even an alleged massacre – yet none of the northern elites ever wrote an open letter to him or perceived the cases as Yoruba agenda powered by Yoruba elites to which Obasanjo is a member. I am constrained to say that Mr Olusegun Obasanjo is up to something ominous. 

Anyway, we should not allow politicians with vested interests to do us apart. Nigerians have a duty. It is a moral duty to understand our common challenges and face them headlong. As Martin Luther King Jr. would say, we must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools. 

Abdulhamid wrote via [email protected]


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