By Dooyum Ingye

A very deadly conflict is ongoing in Nigeria. This conflict is between murderous Fulani herdsmen and indigenous farmers over fertile lands found in zones such as the south and central Nigeria. In Benue state where the Fulani herdsmen have launched incessant attacks against rural locals since 2012, about 3000 human lives have been lost, and 95 billion naira worth of properties destroyed.

These attacks assumed a trajectory dimension when Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani man, became the president in 2015. Instead of holding his kinsmen to order, Buhari apparently stood guard while the Fulani herdsmen killed so many Nigerians, raped women, and destroyed agricultural produce. His silence and occasional political choice of language on the issue gave the fulani herdsmen all the impetus they needed to cause more havoc on communities who resisted their invasion. While Nigerians cried and mourned their dead, the Fulani herdsmen – apparently not as a publicity stunt at all – boasted on national television about their capability to waste more lives if local farmers continued resisting their invasion.

Hitherto, local communities had willingly accommodated Fulani herdsmen who visited their communities to graze. It was when the Fulani herdsmen sought to seize land for themselves that such visits became rejected. At the peak of these attacks and coupled with reluctance of the Buhari administration to prosecute or proscribe the Miyyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association just like it did to IPOB, it was expected that some important members of the Buhari government or the All Progressive Congress(APC) who hailed from the affected communities moved by their people cries would appeal to or request the Buhari administration to provide consolation and restore public trust by immediately prosecuting the Fulani herdsmen terrorists. But while some of us felt this was the expected action from them, such leaders as Vice President Yemi Osibanjo, Speaker Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila, APC national leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Minister George Akume, Minster Chris Ngige, Minister Ogbonnaya Onu opted for the politically correct behaviour.

Back at home in Benue, unlike his elder brother J.S Tarkaa who led a fierce opposition against Ahmadu Bello’s Northern Peoples Congress, George Akume kept sealed lips and made merry with the brothers of those who massacred his people at home. There was no such time that Akume was moved enough – not even when two (2) priests and several parishioners were killed at Mbalom, or even as thousands were killed and displaced at Guma and Makurdi LGAs – to speak against the activities of the Fulani terrorists in Benue state. While heading the Senate committee on Army before 2019, he could not use that position to address the issues in his constituency which was affected by the attacks. At some point, to pitch the people against the current governor who, himself, a failure of dismal epic proportion; Akume claimed that Samuel Ortom sponsored some of the attacks on the people of Benue. Coming from someone who is seen as the leader of the Benue people, members of the Buhari administration seized the statement to highlight to the world as proof that Fulani herdsmen had no hand in the killings in Benue, claiming that it was the people of Benue who were at war with themselves. Akume would later be appointed to head Buhari’s campaign team in Northern Nigeria, and subsequently after the 2019 general election, would become a minister. This was after the people in his constituency had denied him a return to the red chamber via their votes, and truncated his dream of becoming the Senate president of Nigeria.

Just like Akume, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu also maintains an aloofness on this issue. He sits on the fence and speaks the language of political correctness whenever he is cornered to speak. As a prominent leader in the South West, Asiwaju is expected to speak for his people against the Fulani invasion even if it spites those whom it is rumoured promised him presidency. It was the south- west governors who initiated the idea of a regional security outfit to protect their people, just as one of them Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state has succeeded in pushing the Fulani herdsmen terrorists out of hid state to guarantee the safety of his people. This is what a leader should do. The interest of his people should tower above anything else. The likes of Obafemi Awolowo exemplified this quality in their own times. It is disheartening that a political figure who prides his/herself as a leader would deliberately turn a blind eye to an obvious threat to their people, all in a bid to save his/her political ambition.
As a legal luminary, a professor and a vice president, it is expected that Yemi Osibanjo would either use his position to bring peace to his people, or resign and join his people to fight against those who threaten their collective existence. Sadly, the vice president has allowed himself to be boxed into a corner like aa rat. He has been reduced to a messenger of condolence; an errand boy who walks on the blood spilled by the brothers of the president to offer fortitude and prayers. He has become a sell-out just like his boss Asiwaju.

Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila is a Nigerian lawyer, All Progressives Congress Leader, and Speaker of Nigeria’s 9th House of Representatives who hails from Lagos. Looking at his education and profession, one will think the Nigerian lawmaker will use his position to force President Buhari to take proactive steps in curbing Fulani attacks on the Yoruba nation. In fact, it is not on record that the speaker have ever risen to defend his people against the Fulani herdsmen marauders. The Constitution has vested in the House of Representatives the power to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the federation. Sadly, Femi Gbaja has failed to explore this power to protect his people. He might hail from Lagos, but he is a Yoruba man, and a Nigerian, and as such, should be compelled to act against forces that seek to exterminate his kinsmen and collect their lands.

Femi Adesina, a Yoruba man, journalist, and special adviser, media and publicity to the President, has turned himself into the favourite mouthpiece of the Fulani controlled presidency. He spews contents without thought or consideration of the effect it has on his people, personal reputation, or Nigeria. When the land-grabbing attempts disguised as colonies failed and the Fulani herdsmen embarked on another killing spree, it was Femi Adesina who asked Nigerians to choose life by surrendering their land to the Fulani herdsmen terrorists. The man speaks with much disconnect and apathy; the need to impress his master drives him mad. He presents Buhari as a mandarin with no fault who must be revered at all cost. If the Fulani herdsmen terrorists kills every Nigerian, Adesina will see no fault in it. He occupies the lowest position in the cabal, yet he is the most vicious with words; a classic example of an “efulefu”.

The above mentioned elites have gone to wine and dine with the kinsmen of those who kill their people daily. The very people we have endowed with the loud voices to speak for us have sold us as well as their voices; they have crumbs stuffed in their mouth and find it very difficult to speak. They have betrayed the trust and leadership placed on them. It was no other person but Asiwaju, Akume, Osinbajo, etc who sold Nigerians to Buhari. Nigerians trusted them because they felt that as integral members of this administration, they would use their position to advance collective interests. They have failed to live up to expectation. As Nigerians are killed at home, they expect them not to cry or yell lest they spoil their chances of getting more crumbs. Some governors in the West, North Central, and the Eastern part of Nigeria have asked the Fulani herdsmen to stay. Governor Fayemi of Ekiti state pleads with the Fulani herdsmen to stay in his state which he refers to as ‘your home’. Such accommodation will lead to death and destruction. It has happened in other places where land and shelter was willingly offered to them. It must be stated that Fayemi’s hand of hospitality is extended to further his political ambition. He desires to be friends with those who threaten the existence of his people, at the expense of his people. How can a leader be willing to sacrifice the blood of his people for his/her personal gain?

In times like this, Nigerians need leaders with the concern and bravery of Sunday Igboho to rise and fight for them. Unlike Musiliu Ayinde Akinsanya A.K.A MC Oluomo, who sits mute heading the Lagos chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) that is known for corruption, violence, extortion, and nepotism, exposed by the American-British journalist Louis Theroux in his 2010 documentary film, Mr Igboho rightly alleges that herders have been responsible for the killings and kidnappings of the residents in the West, and insists that the herders must leave the region. He goes further to clamour for the construction of a Yoruba nation. For a leader who has his/her people at heart, this is the path to follow. There is no point keeping to alliances when it threatens the survival of one’s people. For daring to challenge and push out the Fulani herdsmen marauders, Mr Sunday has become the target of the state. Few days ago, his house was burnt down by ‘unknown hoodlums’.

The Fulani herdsmen terrorists must be butted out of our lands; they seek to kill us and take it. Bello Abdullahi Bodejo, National President of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, claims that “Fulani have been in the forests he (Ondo State Governor) is talking about even before he was born; they have been there for over 250 years. No matter how dangerous a forest may be, Fulani would go and settle there. “After staying there for a long time and their cow dung has made the place fertile, people would begin to come there to farm and so farm and settle and after then, they begin to make claims that our cattle are destroying their farms.”…All the lands in this country belong to the Fu­lani, but we don’t have any business to do with land if it doesn’t have areas for grazing. “If the land doesn’t have cow food, we won’t have any business with it.” (The Sun, 2021)

It is the tradition of Africans to open their homes to strangers, however, when ownership of the host’s land becomes challenged by the people whom accommodation was granted, it becomes pertinent to kick them out. Whoever does not support the idea of evicting the Fulani herdsmen marauders out should be considered supporters and/or members of those marauders.

It is time to rise and fight!

(c) Dooyum Ingye 2021