How is the family? We are still in January and surely it will be very much in order to wish you a Happy New Year.
In the midst of the dark clouds of insecurity hovering over our country and anxieties over COVID-19, I have found a compelling necessity to write to you. You and your colleagues’ stand over the entire brouhaha surrounding the eviction of Fulani herdsmen shows you guys are embarking on a misguided journey and I intend by this letter to lay a gentle hand of restraint on your shoulder.
HISTORY WITH FASEHUN
We, you and I, come from way back. A couple of years ago, we were even together in Owerri with our “mutual friend, the Major” along with the Late Dr. Frederick Fasehun, Founder of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), whom along with the rest of us you fondly called “Baba” to celebrate Ikemba Odumegwu Ojukwu’s remembrance. You used to be this detribalised! Fasehun will be turning in his grave now seeing the path that you currently speed through, a path that angels tremble to tread upon. He did not bring us up this way! Baba never issued ultimatums for other tribes to quit Yoruba land like you and other Arewa youths have done in the not distant past, ordering Southerners to quit the North, how many times now in the last three years? Alas, you who grew around Oshodi, Isolo and Agege areas of Lagos, how have you descended to this parochial, mundane depth? Who do you dis ting, my broda?
In this atmosphere of insecurity and mutual distrust, Baba would have by now called the Coalition of Ethnic Nationalities of Nigeria (CENN), the body he founded as a collaborative platform for ethnic-based organisations like your Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) and OPC, MASSOB, Asari Dokubo’s group and such like to issue a strongly-worded statement; and you, Shettima, would have been a co-signatory –just as you were in the past when CENN spoke up to pull the nation back from the brink. Alas, now you have new friends from the North! Now you hobnob with radical extremists, the elite wing of renegades, whose rhetoric is war, their bile filled with hatred and their eyes shooting arrows of fire. And over what? They threaten to bring the country down because governors and citizens ask criminal Fulani herdsmen to stop their evil vocation or vacate the lands and forests from which they launch attacks on their long-suffering hosts and wayfarers. To add insult to injury, one dunce from Miyetti Allah came out to say that Fulani own all the lands in Nigeria and no power could remove herders from Ondo forests. Banza ne! Utter rubbish!
WHY UNA DEY VEX FOR AKEREDOLU AND IGBOHO?
In answer to the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB’s separatist’s campaigns in 2017, you joined others under the aegis of the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) to demand that all Igbo must leave the North. The whole world placated you before you withdrew the ultimatum.
So why una come dey vex say Governor Rotimi Akeredolu give kidnappers and killers for forest reserves wey dey Ondo State quit notice? Menene? Why una come dey para say Sunday Igboho warn kidnappers and killers to vamoose from im hometown of Ibarapa, Oyo State? Menene? Should Yoruba people just fold their arms and let the killing, raping, banditry, impunity and kidnapping by these renegade Fulani continue unchecked? Me, I no understand o! Would you have preferred that these agrarian Yoruba indigenes, before they can attend their own farms, should continue to pay levies to these Fulani encroachers? Would you prefer that these demons masticate the South and reduce it into a killing field of terrorism like they have done the North?
Neither Igboho nor Akeredolu issued any quit notice to law-abiding Northerners, be they Mai Suya, Mai Ruwa, Mai Kaya, Mai Kuturu beggars, traders, business owners or civil servants. So why exactly are you angry? Or are these evil merchants of criminality and death your emissaries? Do they represent you? You guys’ my-dog-right-or-wrong” attitude can only embolden these criminal minds.
EVIL INDUSTRY GROWING
In dealing with criminals here down South, our leaders hold no prisoners. Southern governors demolish the houses of kidnappers and cultists, their own kinsmen and indigenes –regularly! From Nyesom Wike in Rivers, to Ben Ayade in Cross River, to Imo State to Anambra to Edo, they are destroying the houses erected through blood money. Do you not see Southern men and women being lynched by mobs and burnt alive when apprehended for kidnapping and even phone-snatching? But with all such efforts aimed at curtailing local pests, suddenly we woke up to an invasion by criminals posing as herdsmen. Local cowboys joined hands with foreign Bororo from Chad, Niger, Mali and Gambia. You will want us to fold our arms and let them take all of us hostage? Even Bob Marley said, “How long shall they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look!”
Kidnapping is fast becoming an industry in Nigeria today. And your Hausa-Fulani kinsmen take the lead and constitute the worst species of kidnappers today. Take that to the bank!
My brother, do you want to know? Your herdsmen brothers are giving not just the Fulani, but Hausa-Fulani people a bad name worldwide! The Sultan and Emirs must call a solemn assembly, and chide the black sheep of your family. Tell them to abandon their evil ways. It is for your own good o! Right now, people look at your people with suspicion, especially the new influx of pitch-dark skins, posing as Okada riders, pepper sellers, yam sellers pushing wheelbarrow and Mai Suyas around every T-junction. What is their REAL mission? Yes, we know some would be IDPs, expelled from their native North by insurgency. But these others confuse even your Hausa people who must resort to communicating with them in sign language because the pitch-dark skins cannot speak ANY Nigerian language, not even Hausa or Fulfude or Gwari or Nupe. Hope you don’t wake up from your slumber only after the rest of the country concludes that the only good Fulani is a dead Fulani. God forbid!
Fulani kidnappers bring shame to that identity and paint Fulani with the connotation of evil that evokes goose-pimples. Today, Fulani herdsmen rate as fourth worst terrorist group worldwide. In fact, their hostility and killings constitute one singular factor that brought Nigeria into the Black Book of many nations and made our Green Passport a symbol of odium and opprobrium. And this comes from the failure of government to deliver on what the Constitution says in Section 14(b), “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”
IBARAPA AS METAPHOR
Ibarapa stands as metaphor for several agrarian settlements nationwide today –North or South or Middle-Belt. Farmers cannot go to farms anymore. The locusts of armed herders and cows have taken over. Ibarapa natives said they handed over N50 million in cash to Fulani kidnappers. These are natives minding their business in their birthplace o! And the Seriki Fulani, Alhaji Saliu Abdukadir, usually acted as go-between for the ransom payment apart from shielding Fulani herders who regularly vandalised farmlands and raped community women. Haba, Mallam, if na you, you no go vex?
Yes, the North battles desert encroachment, climate change and the shrinking of the green belt, factors that has forced many to emigrate. But is Northern Nigeria the only place in the world suffering climate change? You elite and your governors must don the hat of strategic thinking. Think along the line of government-driven irrigation to grow grasses and shrubs for cattle, so that the Fulani can live a settled life in Ruga settlements, cattle colonies, ranches and reserves in their own native lands. Fulani and Bororo children will attend school and become nationally and globally competitive. Then Nigeria’s lean cattle can stand up to their foreign equals and produce not just beef, hides and skins but milk to save our country the currency it currently spends importing dairy products.
LESSONS FOR BUHARI –MY FRIEND, WHERE IS ANINI?
Let Buhari learn from Olusegun Obasanjo, who had Fasehun and his OPC factional rival Gani Adams detained on allegations of breaching the peace, although they were Yoruba like the President. Buhari should not pamper his kinsmen embracing criminality for the simple reason they are Fulani. I am sure you were old enough when General Ibrahim Babangida was so pissed off with the criminality perpetrated by the robbery gang of Lawrence Anini in the Edo axis that after a meeting of the Armed Forces Ruling Council in October 1986, IBB turned to the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Etim Inyang, and asked him, “My friend, where is Anini?” That nailed the coffin of both Inyang and Anini. Inyang was relieved of his post the next month and Anini was lassoed the following month.
Does Buhari throw a similar challenge at the IGP and GOCs? No! Instead, presidential aides in The Presidency fall over themselves running PR for criminal herdsmen and attempting to shoot down any initiative by victims and governors to tame demons the President has failed to tame.
BLACK LEGS AMONG FULANI
No one hates Fulani. And no one will hurriedly profile all Fulani negatively. We have Fulani friends that we LOVE, and really, really LOVE. Even they are scandalised by this bad name and de-marketing they are undergoing. And this regime…. go and ask people who by all means in heaven and earth know this subject better than you –Theophilus Danjuma, Obasanjo, Wole Soyinka, Olu Falae, Atiku Abubakar, Hassan Matthew-Kukah– and they will tell you that PMB has expanded the net of tolerance and impunity for his local and foreign criminal Fulani kinsmen. They have become untouchable and regard themselves as such. You take them to police today; they are back the next day to do you worse.
These are the same people that have turned travelling into a nightmare nationwide. Abuja-Kaduna. Shagamu-Ibadan. Ore-Benin. Benin-Auchi. Okene-Lokoja. Aba-Port Harcourt. Onitsha-Owerri. Lokoja-Abuja. Ilesha-Akure. Forests in between these routes bristle with not just maltreated captives awaiting ransom from families but these bushes are littered with the fresh and putrefying corpses of those whose families could not come up the captors’ pay demands. This is Libya in the making.
And we shall not join politicians to keep quiet in the name of political correctness while Nigerians suffer and die like animals in a Devil’s zoo.
Yerima, Fulani killers are criminals! Their practices are haram. They represent neither the Fulani nor the Hausa! Here is hoping I can convince you to convince your colleagues to stop lending your voices to such felonious demons.
JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR, FELIX OBOAGWINA LIVES IN LAGOS