Falae’s House Now ‘Mecca’ For Pilgrmage After Rescue
Not the Mecca in the Middle East, but the one in the middle of Akure metropolis and Oba-Ile town, where people of timbre and calibre, from all walks of life, sauntered in despite the dusty Oba-Ile dual carriage road that was abandoned over six years ago, to rejoice with the septuagenarian, who suffered from the global malaise of insecurity on his 77th birthday.
Some metres to the first and second gates of his old Victorian styled residence, which has now turned muddy due to the constant rainfall, police vans were stationed with about 10 personnel on duty to avert further embarrassment.
One of the sympathisers, hissed and later sneered in an Akure dialect: “A stitch in time saves nine.”
He said Falae is the only former Minister of Finance and Secretary to the Government of the Federation living in such financial squalor and material obscurity in the country.
In the living room down stairs, party members and all well-wishers, mostly women, gathered for a Christian fellowship: praying, clapping, dancing and singing high praises to God for bringing their hero out of the dungeon and reuniting him safely with his family.
A middle-aged man, who appeared to have had access to Chief Falae after his rescue on Thursday, said the septuagenarian was made to walk in the bush by the Fulani herdsmen from Akure to Owo, in the rain under the cover of a torn umbrella.
He added that Falae was given bread and soft drinks to eat whenever he was famished, and slept three nights on the bare floor as they relocated four times before he was released.
The middle-aged Akure man, who calls Pa Falae “My Leader,”explained that while the negotiation for ransom was on, the kidnappers were irked when the family members informed them that they were only able to raise N2 million out of the N100 million earlier demanded for his release.
He said the leader told them that the Fulanis snarled and shouted at him.
Another man said the kidnappers told Chief Falae point blank that they were intentionally punishing him so that he would experience what the common men on the street are passing through with the prevalent hardship that has spared no one in the country.
One of the insiders, lauded all journalists in the state for their efforts at reporting the unfortunate incident since Monday, and apologised on behalf of the family for the ill-treatment and reactions of Falae’s children to journalists on Thursday.
There is a clue as to why the IGP kept mute on the arrest of kidnappers and denial of ransom payment. One of the people, who claimed to have had the rare privilege to speak with Pa Falae, disclosed that the kidnappers threatened the elder statesman not to utter a word on his kidnap or they would come for him the second time.
Some of the folks gathered, waiting anxiously on the rumours that sifted around town that the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the leader of APC, Ahmed Tinubu and other notable Nigerians outside Ondo State might drive into the compound any moment to felicitate with Falae and his family over his freedom from his abductors
It almost degenerated into an argument, when someone mentioned that two former Presidents of the country, Dr Goodluck Jonathan and Chief Segun Obasanjo would be visiting, with another man stressing that the latter could come unannounced to catch everyone by surprise. They waited expectantly to see both men drive into the compound, but it turned out to be the endless wait for the mythical Goddoth.
The Guardian learnt that the youths of Akure had perfected a plan to swoop violently on the Fulani communities in Akure in reprisal attacks: first on Sango, a cattle settlement along Ado/Ikere Road, Shasha Market along Owo Express Way and other Fulani settlements in the main town and outskirts of the state capital.
This was revealed in a statement made available to The Guardian on Wednesday morning by the Vice President, National Affairs, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Timileyin Ayenuro, who called for unconditional release of Falae.
According to him: “We hereby call for the immediate and unconditional release of Chief Olu Falae by the Fulani herdsmen in the next four (4) days, failure of which the Nigerian students in Ondo State will mobilise enmasse to wage a war against the Fulani herdsmen and turn the place to a Banana Republic.”
The leader of Sango cattle settlement, Bidemi Abudsalam, during a visit to their settlement on Tuesday, condemned the kidnap of the Afenifere leader, attributing the wicked act to the Fulani “Bororos” who are nomadic cattle rearers.
Abdusalam, who hardly understands Yoruba but coincidentally answers a Yoruba name, mentioned that the resident Fulanis are peace-loving people, saying he has stayed in Akure for 20 years and has not witnessed such an ugly incident.
All the sympathisers concurred that the activities of the cattle rustlers should be checked in the country, especially in the Southern region; affirming the mass destruction of agricultural crops as the cattle rearers conduct their large herds on the farmlands. .
The children too were not left out. They stopped at intervals to gist and to condemn the kidnappers: some said the Spiderman and Batman would have come to their fathers’ rescue, while others noted that their dogs would have bitten the kidnappers. They played around with mask, Pa Falae’s dog, which was visibly happier and calmer than when its master was away for four days.