By Ayo Kehinde
Otunba Wasiu Afolabi, OPC President
The Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) has condemned statement by the former Chief of Army Staff, Retired-General Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau, who equated the group and others to the terrorist organisation Boko Haram.
The group’s newly-elected President, Otunba Wasiu Afolabi (also known as “Askari”) said the former Army Chief displayed a dangerous level of mischief, prejudice and narrow-mindedness by making the highly unintelligent comparison of a pro-democracy group like OPC with a world-acclaimed terrorist organisation like Boko Haram.
Also speaking on agitations for a separatist Oduduwa Republic, Afolabi said only the entrenchment of equity, justice and restructuring in the country would silence such agitations.
On Dambazau’s terrorist labelling of OPC, the leader of the Yoruba socio-cultural group said: “Is this an attempt to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it? It will not work. We shall not succumb to this cheap attempt at blackmail and negative profiling. OPC is not, has never been and will never be a terrorist organisation. Nobody should link us or liken us with terrorists. We have never been on the global radar of terrorism like Boko Haram because we have never even been remotely connected with terrorism.
“Dambazau and his likes should realise that there is no Federal Character in terrorism. The South-West has never bred any terrorist organisation, least of all OPC. These are people who feel that the tragedy they brought upon their part of the country should be duplicated in the South. But it won’t work, not even with the backing they are giving killer Fulani herdsmen.”
According to him, Dambazau was exposing himself as a sponsor of Boko Haram, while his rhetoric and mindset indicated why the administrators of the Nigerian Army from the North have continued to play and toy with Boko Haram while sacrificing the lives of thousands of poor soldiers for nothing.
He said: “Northern leaders have treated Boko Haram like a pet snake and allowed it to grow stronger instead of killing it once and for all. What they should realise is that there is neither Federal Character nor Quota System in terrorism. The North should call a spade a spade and demand its leaders to bring this ugly Boko Haram insurgency to a close. It is no longer a secret that Generals like Dambazau turned the fight against Boko Haram into an ATM. Dambazau and the others exploited the Boko Haram insurgency to amass massive blood money that allowed him to purchase choice houses in places like Abuja, Dubai and the US. His tenure was characterised by several acts of corruption that have been swept under the carpet.”
Afolabi said OPC continued to maintain excellent relationships with police, DSS and other relevant agencies for the maintenance of security, law and order in the entire South-West.
The OPC President pointed out: “A case in point is the last #EndSARS protests. OPC operatives guarded the police stations and prevented several of them from being burnt down. Several DPOs, officers and men are living witnesses to our patriotic action on that occasion.”
Pointing out that OPC, as a socio-cultural organisation formed in 1994, had millions of followers who fought for the entrenchment of democracy as part of NADECO, Afolabi said the organisation had brought welfare and security to Yoruba indigenes as well as to settlers in the South-West.
He recalled that General Sani Abacha sent his foot-soldiers on a killing spree in the South-West, slaughtering and bombing known pro-democracy activists.
Askari said: “Where was Dambazau when people were dying for June 12 and democracy? OPC was part of NADECO. Hundreds of OPC warriors paid the supreme price for the democracy under which Dambazau became Chief of Army Staff (2008 and 2010) and Minister of the Interior (2015 to 2019).”
According to him, the OPC Founder, Dr. Frederick Fasehun, was a Scottish-trained medical doctor, who was, along with some of his members, severally detained and charged for all sorts of fake charges by the military junta, but at the end, they were always discharged and acquitted.
On calls for an Oduduwa Republic, Afolabi explained: “There is no smoke without fire and no true Yoruba person is comfortable with the current situation in Nigeria today. Agitations whether for Biafra or Oduduwa Republic are being fuelled by the rising scale of insecurity, the unhindered killings by Fulani herdsmen, kidnapping and poverty. OPC will not go against the wish, aspiration and decision of the generality of Yoruba people on the matter.
“As Dr. Fasehun always said, Nigeria must come together to the negotiation table and fashion out a truly people’s Constitution that will emphasise True Federalism, Resource Control and Devolution of Power. Without taking that road, Nigeria likely may break up.”
OTUNBA WASIU AFOLABI