In 2007, Nigeria had one of the most terrible elections and Umar Musa Yar’adua emerged as president. Although, the country was not as polarised as we currently have it, he took six drastic steps that would make me score him as the most nationalistic president I have witnessed. The steps were (1) revoking g the sale of the refineries (2) Paying Lagos state the illegally withheld funds (3) Reducing cost price of petrol from N75 to N65 (4) Acknowledging that the elections that brought him were flawed and there was need for reforms.(5) Immediate enforcement of the judgment of the courts in Ondo, Edo, Anambra (unlike ) in the past when an AGF had to “study” the judgment of the court written in clear English (6) Breaking Dangote’s monopoly in cement production, making way for Ibeto and some other decisions language.
I still believe fate played a fast one on us by the death of UMY. He remains the best we have had since this fourth republic(my opinion).
His regime had people from him native Katsina state being in the kitchen cabinet(Sayyadu Abba Ruma, Tanimu Yakubu, Rilwan Lukman etc) but this did not really raise dust (maybe because cheap data and chinese phones were not in abundance then).
On the contrary, his brother from the same state did not learn what it takes to be naturalistic before he became presientb. Since ascension to power, he has exhibited this “Other tribes can go screw themselves” attitude(albeit covertly). In the build-up to the polls, there were lots of opposition coming especially from the SE region, owing to their experiences from the civil war. I expected that having attracted such prejudice against him, he would take steps to douse the suspicion and try and carry every one along. Just as the Ibos sfeared the “domination” by the hausa/Fulani north, it is beginning to manifest.
For the records, the fulanis herdsmen have always been known to wreak havoc for a long time (I have had direct involvement in some of the issues) , but their activities have been mainly limited to Benue, Nassarawa , Taraba, Plateau, Southern Kaduna and Adamawa.
Suddenly, a fulani man becomes president and the fulanis are moving with great alacrity to wreak havoc in the SE region. Winsh fly for night, pikin die for morning. Complacency can sometimes equate complicity. Jonathan is still blamed for the insurgency and kidnapping of the Chibok girls because of the failure to act as at when due
It is sad to note that since this carnage begun , the president has not issue a single word of condemnation or sympathy/condolence in respect of the killings and the fulanis seem to become bolder by the day, armed with high-calibre weapons to wreck a whole community, raping an maiming. A few days back, I saw a herd of cattle on a farm in Plateau state eating plants. I shuddered at what would happen if the owners came and attempted to drive the cattle from the farm. No matter what, you cannot justify what the Fulanis are doing. You cannot come to my house and while I invite you to join me in eating, you will carry the entire plate. You cannot come to my land and destroy my means of livelihood just to preserve yours. Not as if they will share the meat free o. You will kill my people just to cater for your cattle and I will still pay to get meat.
The ease with which our military was deployed to the Niger Delta to combat militants/vandals, the efficiency the military displays in mowing down Biafran protesters, if we devote half of it to the Fulani menace, it will be over pretty soon. Just look at how the DSS was so quick to issue a statement on the alleged killing of five northerners in the Ease, but are acting like the Agatu and Enugu killings took place in Jupiter. See how our president was more concerned about how Rivers state has recorded the highest number of deaths, while acting like Agatu is in Australia.
You will not blame anyone who concludes that the Fulani marauders have the imprimatur of the president . His failure to act can make anyone draw that conclusion.
Now to the issue of the fulanis(referring to the nomads), I will like to point out the following facts:
- Most of the cattle are not owned by the herdsmen. They are simply paid to cater for the cattle. The “big men” who own the cattle are/were in government. They do not want to build ranches and pay tax to the government. It costs far, far less to engage herdsmen to rear them. As funny as it sounds, in a motley crowd of cattle, a Fulani herdsman can identify the cattle belonging to his various employers. Also, a Fulani man can call his cattle from a large number and identify his.
- The fulanis do not have the money to buy those sophisticated weapons .They are probably being supplied by some connected people who also ensure they are free to carry the weapons around. I travelled through several states recently and all the Fulani herdsmen I saw were sticks, swords and arrows. I have never seen a Fulani man with a rifle.
- The fulanis believe that all land were given to them by God for them to live and graze their cattle. So, anyone stopping them from using what God has “given” them is simply disobeying God.
- A larger percentage of the herdsmen are not Nigerians. They come from Niger, Mali and Chad. This raises issues of the effectiveness of our borders.
- The nomadic fulanis have a code of honour that operates like an “All-For-One-And-One-For-All”. Thus, if you attack fulanis in Anambra, they can cry to fulanis in as far as Senegal and they are bound to come to their aid. Thus they do by sharing kolanuts (raban goro) . Once that happen, they must go to the aid of those who called for their help.
- The fulanis believe in vengeance so much. A Fulani man can avenge a wrong done decades later an when you have forgotten you offended him.
It think it is a very bad strategy for the FG to be mooting the idea of grazing reserves nationwide at a point when the people of the south have their minds programme that the herdsmen are embarking on an expansionist programme(commenced by Dan Fodio). Suspicion and distrust are, at the moment, very high against the government and a wise government should tread carefully. “Dem no dey use power kill fly wey dey blockus.”( Martin Luther King, 2013).
I just pray we do not get to the stage where people get fed up and take to self-defence, in order to protect themselves.
Our military is overstretched at the moment and stretching them further would be dangerous. A wise government would not let it get to that stage
I sincerely fear that just as BH was Goodluck Jonathan’s greatest undoing, Fulani militia may just be the same thing to this administration. It is bad enough that we have all the economic woes to battle. Now, this???
You do not allow your tribesmen run around with immunity, considering the prejudices against, and the opposition to your emergence as president. You are the president of all, including those who did not vote for you. A wise leader will be more interested in building bridges an uniting the people.
Solving the BH menace, which was restricted to one region and now having Fulani militia with a national spread, is like selling a dog and buying a monkey. You still have a squatting creature.
As it is, it has become extremely difficult for even the most ardent supporter of the President to continue to defence him on this issue.
It has also become very difficult to absolve the government of complicity.