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Fulanisation And Islamisation: The Facts And The Fiction

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For the first time since this column started almost at the same time with the newspaper, I took a long break to rest, reflect and reenergize for the tasks ahead. Within the period, many important dignitaries such as Justice Mamman Nasir, Galadiman Katsina, died. May their souls rest in peace. Within the period, there were many national and international developments that require informed comments. So many people through calls and text messages tried to reach out to yours sincerely to find out why the silence. I really appreciate all. It was just a small rest, a sabbatical leave and now, God willing we are back. One of the people I respect very much is General TY Danjuma. He is not used to frivolous speeches and, out of frustration on what is happening in the country, particularly the insecurity, he made many profound statements.

Another leader I hold in high esteem, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, also made some statements along the same lines. These were followed by known anarchists such as Femi Fani Kayode and other separatists. Since it is a topical issue this column has decided to join the fray; with due respect to all these personalities. Let me start by saying that like most patriotic citizens, I am not very happy with the performance of this administration in its first term. President Buhari came with enormous goodwill which he is squandering by his acts of commission and omission, but the opposition did not give us a better alternative. It could have been better. And, if he returns the team he worked with in the first term, it could be worse.

But, those attacking his religion or ethnicity instead of his policies and performance are missing the point. Buhari and his appointees and cronies are not representing their faith or tribe; but their class, and clan. Reducing such important national matter to primordial emotions will only trivialize this important issue. In any case, I wonder how this government can embark upon a so-called “Islamization” agenda when the Vice President is a distinguished Christian Pastor; the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olanisakin who is the highest military officer in the country is a Christian and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation as well as the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation are all practicing Christians? In the last cabinet, the thirty six ministers were evenly distributed between Christians and Muslims on 50-50 basis. Thus, I do not see how anybody can Islamize or Christianize Nigeria when even in families across the country siblings belong to different faiths. It is part of the fiction being spread to create confusion. With regard to Boko Haram, the insurgency started as far back as 2002 during the first term of Obasanjo as president. It metamorphosed into a full blown bloody conflict when the Yar’Adua administration mishandled the insurgency due to the fact that their leader, Mohammed Yusuf was killed extra-judicially. Boko Haram consists of mainly Kanuri, the major tribe in the Lake Chad basin.

The Kanuri is the only tribe in Africa that is one hundred percent Muslim. Islam came to what became Nigeria through Borno their ancestral home. There is nothing like Fulani element as far as Boko Haram is concerned. If anything, the one who came out publicly to say she is the godmother of Boko Haram, Barrister Aisha Wakil is an Igbo convert to Islam from the southeast who married a Kanuri Judge and even interfaced with the Jonathan regime on behalf of Boko Haram. The farmers/herders conflict has been in existence from time immemorial. It was being managed using traditional conflict resolution mechanism. Desertification and climate change has aggravated the problem as grazing areas become scarcer up north. Effectively using social media, some people have blown it out of proportion making it an ethnic or faith issue. Apart from Fulani, there are many people engaged in animal husbandry such as the Shuwa-Arab of Borno Empire. Everyone knows who started kidnapping in this country. Everyone knows who import arms to this country and supply them to criminal elements even before the Libyan crisis. The security agencies know this. But no one has ethnicized criminality except now. No criminal is called with his ethnic identity except the Fulani, bythose whose hatred for Buhari has made them to hate his socalled kinsmen. Meanwhile the Fulani supply 90 percent of the animal protein in this country. Apart from personal income tax they pay cattle tax and sundry taxes for breeding and selling cows. They do not own land, they only move about grazing. They do not enjoy any government subsidy. Now they are being attacked everywhere; monies being extorted from them; their cattle which is their means of livelihood are being rustled by the day. Whether in the forest or in the township they are an endangered species. They are mostly the victims even though no one can deny that there are some bad elements among them too. Propagandists are deliberately and systematically setting them up for extermination like the Tutsis of Rwanda were killed in 1994. The fiction is being spread out there by the so-called internet warriors that the Nigerian security architecture is in the hands of the Fulani, which is really not true and is even against the constitution. Does it make sense for “Fulani” security chiefs to allow their kinsmen to be slaughtered everyday across the country and their ancestral home to be the most devastated part of the country? These security agents swore to protect the lives and property of all citizens and all who are resident in Nigeria, and not any particular group or people but their strategy so far is not effective as lives are being lost daily across the country. In fact, the only head of a security or military outfit that is Fulani in the Buhari regime so far is the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar. This is the fact which is separate from the fiction being peddled. But that is beside the point. What is important is to hold the government accountable so that even animallives are protected by those in government. History is on the side of the oppressed.

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