The events of the last few weeks have raised the political temperature of the country: the quit notice to herders in Ondo State which has also led to the rise of ethnic warriors.
First, herders and farmers clashes in the country gained traction in 2015 especially in the North Central zone. However, different proposals had been given to end the age-long botheration . Every attempt to resolve the crisis was viewed through ethnic prism as it was believed depending on the side of the political divide you belong to that the escalation of the crisis was because a Fulani man is the president of the country. I think that is hogwash.
Regrettably, the herders/farmers’ clashes have resulted to multiple deaths across the country and it was the genesis of the criminalisation of the Fulani ethnic group .Sadly, after the clashes we saw an astronomical rise in kidnapping and banditry across the country which also have been blamed on the Fulani ethnic group. Every crime in the country from kidnapping in Nnewi, cultism in Agbor, killing in Modakeke and even domestic violence in some areas, is blamed on the Fulani boys. The jury was out – the Fulani were on a pernicious mission to conquer and make every other tribe their slave in Nigeria. In the words of James Hadley Chase – Believe this and you will believe anything.
No doubt, most of the bandits have been found out to be Fulani but that should not be a good enough reason to criminalise a whole tribe. I have friends who are Fulani who have been kidnapped.
The criminals on the Kaduna-Abuja Highway don’t care if you are Fulani, Hausa , Igbo or Idoma. They are out to make money and once you are abducted no matter your ethnicity, you pay the ransom. A session of the media has been putting the narrative that all other criminals from other ethnic groups have retired and are now born again and only the Fulani ethnic group is responsible for all the crimes in Nigeria . That is treading on dangerous ground.
Indeed, I blame this squarely on the Fulani leaders who kept mute in the face of all this. I strongly believe most of the herders know the criminal elements among them and in some cases are shielding them because of ethnic affinity. The irony of this whole thing is that some of the victims of cattle rustling are also Fulani .The genuine herders should do all within their powers to fish out the criminals among them. If examples are constantly made, I believe the rate of criminality among them will drastically reduce. Some provocative statements from some of their leaders should also stop. Crime affects us all.
I Iwas happy with the suggestion of Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, seeking to have a law enacted which would place a ban on the movement of herdsmen and cattle from the North towards the southern region of Nigeria.
Governor Ganduje argued that the law will also address the issue of cattle rustling in the northern part of the country.
“My advocacy is that we should abolish the transportation or trekking of herdsmen from the northern part of Nigeria to the middle belt and to the southern part of Nigeria. There should be a law that will ban, otherwise we cannot control the conflict between herdsmen and farmers and cannot control the cattle rustling which is affecting us greatly,” the governor said.
It is instructive to note that Ganduje was a herdsman, a Fulani and his suggestions should be taken seriously. We need to address the issue of herders, farmers clashes seriously and also clashes between herders and their host communities.This nonsense must stop.
Similarly, the recent killings in the South West prompted the eviction order from the Ondo State forests which also led to accusations and counter- accusations. What I learnt from all this is that we have a dearth of statesmen in the country, what we have in abundant supply are ethnic champions, irredentist and clowns who view everything through regional and tribal prism. I don’t think anyone deserves to be called a statesman for now in the country. The only semblance of statesmen we have are our past presidents.
Sadly, in the midst of this, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, gave a seven-day ultimatum to Fulani herders in the Ibarapa axis of Oyo State to leave the area in the wake of the heightened insecurity in the state, as well as the South West, as a result of the activities of kidnappers and bandits. Igboho alleged that herders have been responsible for the killings and kidnappings of the residents of Oke-Ogun and Ibarapa. Now he has moved to Ogun State to evict the Fulani there and has vowed to evict all Fulani from the South West. When a private citizen begins to give quit notice to other tribes just know we are in trouble. All of a sudden he became an instant hero in the South West and was seen as a defender of the Yoruba race – wonders shall never end. Before you know it, every region or tribe will start producing their defenders and warriors and I strongly believe this should be nipped in the bud by the federal government.
We have enough problems in our hands already. The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is putting a strain on our fragile health system. The rise of ethnic warlords will worsen an already bad security situation and at the same time aggravate the ethnic and regional tension. A stitch in time saves nine.