Fellow Nigerians, please, take note of the title of my column this week. I did not say Nigerians are dying. That is stale news, as well as an understatement. My focus is that the country called Nigeria is dying. I do not know what sort of security briefing President Muhammadu Buhari, regularly or periodically, receives from his obviously reticent and incompetent security team. I doubt it includes the fact that Nigeria is speeding towards a monumental collapse, unless a miracle, or something drastic is done to stop this supersonic drift towards perdition. It might even be that the President does not receive any or proper security details, either because he does not want to hear or worse still, he assumes all is well. Whichever way one contemplates these last two scenarios, it is a calamity indeed.
Believe me, I’m not writing as a wailing wailer, or as a Prophet of doom. I am not writing as a clairvoyant or a seer. I merely write as a realist. The symptoms of a failed nation are just too palpable to be missed or ignored by a reasonable people. I am not talking about a State which has failed because of social and economic policies that even the authors and protagonists cannot decipher or fathom. This nation is on the precipice because its leaders are playing Russian Roulette with the security of Africa’s biggest and most important country. It is all now a matter of guesswork, that the gun is loaded, but the way we are going it is looking like every chamber is now full and not just one. Whatever shot you fire is bound to be the killer shot. Our leaders clearly know this but are in such an inebriated state that they have become oblivious, impervious and immune to all the danger signals.
I know power makes people blind. It intoxicates, addles the mind and takes full possession of the powerful, especially if they want to play God. This is why I’m shocked that some Nigerians are already daydreaming about becoming President in 2023, when they have no guarantee that Nigeria will still be alive by then. Or maybe I should not be surprised because what better can one expect from this bungling class of crass elements. The usual leading contenders, as typical of this confounding breed of persons, are pretending that all is well, although they know much better having been the contributors to, and cause, of the problem. They must not be seen to be criticizing the rudderless, directionless and visionless government of President Buhari lest they are marked down as enemies of the President. They know that elections are never held here, stricto sensu. What we have is a selection process with the hapless people being trundled out to deceive the unsuspecting international observers who can’t believe that what they are seeing is possible even in a Banana Republic. Simply put, elections are largely controlled from the very top, where the omnipotent President holds sway, and the outcome of the selection process is dictated by his whims and caprices.
If nobody has yet told the President, then he must hear this somehow. Our security situation is more than dire and grim. It is now catastrophic. Nigerians are now being killed, kidnapped and raped in places that used to know only peace. The orgy of banditry has since moved from the core North and middle belt to Yorubaland, previously considered a safe haven. The tales are unbelievably horrid and terrible. The situation in Ondo State is so critical that the Governor Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) has now cried out that the “Fulani bandits” must move out of his State within seven days. I salute him for having the courage to say it as it is, being a member of the same party as our most reluctant President who seems unabashedly unaware of the bloody forays and operations perpetrated by some of his kinsmen in far-flung territories and domains outside their traditional space. The Governor obviously cried out in utter exasperation, frustration and, perhaps, fear. I knew him as a die-hard Buharist. But only a bastard would sit arms akimbo and watch his mother or daughter being raped by some monsters and say or do nothing! That is the situation in which Arakunrin Akeredolu has more or less found himself. As with the President, he has discovered, albeit tragically, that family comes first. Nobody will watch over yours, when theirs is also threatened by the same fate. As the Yorubas will say, “a ki so ori olori, ki awodi gbe t’eni lo”!
Osun State has virtually become a major theatre of war involving series of killings and kidnappings. I don’t know if the Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, has been as vociferous as Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), but I am sure he is slowly being driven to come to the same conclusion. Akeredolu has nothing against the Fulani. There are many great and peaceful Fulani living in different parts of Nigeria. Some generations of Fulani people have fully integrated in those communities outside their sphere of influence without anyone raising eyebrows. But these bloodthirsty wanderers and vagrants, who are said to have meandered their ways from outside Nigeria, must be flushed out and ruthlessly dealt with regardless of whether the current President of Nigeria is their godfather, avuncular mentor, swami or whatever he represents to them.
The situation in Oyo State is just as scary. I have read the account from no less a personage than the highly respected and revered Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, another die-hard Buharist who now appears ready to part ways with Buhari if necessary. I have had the opportunity of sitting with Iku Baba Yeye, as we fondly call him, and I know how disappointed this esteemed traditional ruler is that the Federal Government has refused to act speedily and decisively on the matter of the gross insecurity ravaging and destroying the country. I was not surprised to receive his lengthy letter to the President days ago which I hope Buhari found time to read, or someone found the opportunity to read to him. I won’t bother to talk about very reserved and highly respectable and regarded Northern Leaders led by the spiritual monarch, The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, a cosmopolitan and cerebral leader I have come to love and adulate so much for his simplicity and forthrightness. Virtually every part of the nation is haemorrhaging to death while the Federal Government is watching helplessly and hopelessly!
The Alaafin has done well by properly documenting some of the dastardly acts of these merciless bandits and his public missive to our President, Muhammadu Buhari excerpts of which are worth repeating on these pages because the letter is one for posterity whatever fate befalls the entity presently known as Nigeria and whichever way the country goes in the end:
“In recent times however, I am worried about the security situation in the country, especially in the South West geo-political zone, nay the entire Yoruba-speaking area of the country including KWARA, Kogi, and Edo States.
“This has to do with the incessant and increasing menace of Fulani herdsmen that have laid siege in almost all the highways of Yorubaland. Whether in Owo, AKURE, Ilesanmi/Ife-Ibadan Road or Ibarapa zone and Ijebu area of Ogun State, the story is the same.
“I have held series of consultations with opinion moulders and eminent Yoruba leaders across board about the menace of these cattle herdsmen with such assault like raping of our women and on some occasions in the presence of their husbands. That is apart from massive destruction of our agricultural lands; which ultimately points to imminent starvation…
“After due consultations with Yoruba leaders… we are worried by the audacity of these lawless people in effecting their illegal acts in broad daylight on our usually bushy highways without any arm of security being able to do anything…
“Now, we cannot even talk of parading suspects, when in actual sense, no major arrests have been made in this part of the country. Without arrests we cannot talk of their facing of the law.
“Unfortunately, and painfully indeed, in the face of the apparent helplessness of our security agencies, where do we go from here?”
It is at the wake of this manifest frustration of our people that our people have found it unavoidable, even though reluctantly to resort to alternative measures to safeguard their lives and property… Today, it is not merely infraction in the course of doing business, but blatant and criminal violation of the constitutional right to life and liberty of innocent citizens of Yoruba land. A few publicly known instances will suffice.
Certain individuals were kidnapped along Erio-Aromoko Road, Ekiti State. They were tortured and exposed to danger in the forest for upward of two weeks.
These victims included the Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikole Branch, Adeola Adebayo, whose decomposing body was eventually found after a ransom price of four million Naira had been paid.
Two officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps, both Yoruba, were picked up along Ilesa-Akure highway. In the process of this kidnap, an unnamed individual died.
Musibau Adetumbi, a legal practitioner based in Ibadan, was going to attend an Appeal Court session in Akure when he was kidnapped along Ilesa-Akure highway. Professor Adegbehingbe, a surgeon at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife was abducted along Ibadan-Ile-Ife highway. Dr. Muslim Omoleke, the Administrative Secretary of the National Electoral Commission was kidnapped around Ilesa, Osun State.
Mr Ayo Oladele, an employee of Guinness Nigeria, and an Old Student of Christ School, Ado-Ekiti, was abducted and taken away and lately, Dayo Adewole, son of a member of your 2015-2019 executive council and Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole was kidnapped on his farm at Iroko, a village along Ibadan-Oyo Road…
As ugly as the picture above seems to be, the people of Yoruba land have remained generally peaceful and have resisted concerted efforts to push them into civil disobedience or adopting self-help mechanisms to protect themselves…
I am therefore writing to you, as a concerned stakeholder in your administration, to alert you and demonstrate to you, the urgency of the need to quickly respond to these and other issues concerning Yoruba land….
There is a general impression among opposition group that you are not known to take decisive and proactive steps in many matters of national interest and that you are not usually too disturbed about the gale of insecurity in Yoruba land…
As no major arrest of Fulani pseudo herdsmen has been made till date in Yoruba land, suspects cannot be paraded, let alone arraigned…
I am aware that members of the Odua People’s Congress scattered all over the world are already being mobilized to stand in the defence of their land and are ready, willing and able to raise an army of volunteers as was done in 1968 by the Agbekoya…”
These are pearly words of wisdom and advice from a monarch who is practically deified in Yoruba land. The President has been stridently admonished and strongly advised in forceful, resounding and vibrating language which is reverberating all over the polity. Effectively, Alaafin Adeyemi is saying that enough is enough and that things will get pretty unpleasant and nasty, pretty soon, unless the President wakes up from his deep, almost comatose, slumber and does the needful by a wholesale revamp and reshaping of our security architecture and thereby protect his fellow Nigerian citizens. The President swore to uphold our Constitution, it is about time that he started upholding that oath by acting like a patriotic Nigerian and safeguarding all his people and preserving their property.
On a similar note, I have been watching the videos of a militant Yoruba man, named Sunday Igboho, from Oyo State and what I see is raw determination to unleash mayhem, if need be, to protect his kinsmen from the brigands and mosstroopers trampling on them and their rights. The views Igboho expresses are symptomatic and reflective of the views of most of Yoruba land. He is the latest Yoruba hero for his fearlessness.
I hope and pray that President Buhari would appreciate this authentic security briefing from The Alaafin, one of Africa’s most important custodians of tradition and culture and resist the temptation of sending his trigger-happy military against the people of Oyo State. They are obviously ready for a full-scale showdown and battle in order to redeem their manhood against the rampaging kidnappers, rapists, raiders and corsairs. I foresee a civil war and bloodbath if action is not taken soon.
May this cup pass over us…
Ilorin and the crisis of identity by Dare Babarinsa
Source: THE GUARDIAN
Ilorin, the capital of Kwara State, is a Yoruba city. It is now in the throes of a self-inflicted crisis caused by the hijab, the head covering favoured by Muslim laity for their women folks. It is also loved by some Christians, especially the Catholics. It originated from the Middle-East where women are subjected to strict code of fashion. But in Yorubaland, fashion has never been a matter of contention. Now this. The case, I am told, is in the court. Some of the Muslims in Ilorin, apparently with the sympathy of the Governor, do not want to wait for the court. They would rather put the matter in their own hands.
What is surprising is that a Muslim parent, knowingly sending his daughter to a Christian school, still wants his daughter to wear the hijab. The corollary is a Christian parent sending his daughter to a Muslim school and yet does not want his daughter to wear the hijab. Luckily, there is no Orunmila High School in Ilorin. If there is one, I can assure you that no Muslim parent would insist that his daughter wears the hijab in Orunmila High School if it is not part of the prescribed uniform. But Christianity and Islam are both imported religions and we Africans we tend to be more catholic than the Pope.
What we are witnessing in Ilorin is the attempt by the government to take all powers from school authorities. Uniforms are parts of the tradition of each school. It seldom changes and when any principal tries to change it, he or she usually faces hostilities from the Alumni Association. In Kwara, the government claims to derive its power to prescribe uniform and enforce the hijab in all public schools because it is funding those schools.
When Alhaji Ahmadu Bello became the Leader of Government Business in Northern Nigeria in 1952, the government decided to support all mission schools; both Christians and Muslims. Those schools were referred to as grant-aided schools. However, there were also private schools established by individual proprietors who were excluded from this generosity. In the 1970s, all private secondary schools, including the mission schools, were taking over by the government. The government did not pay compensations for these schools. There was the understanding that though the schools had been taken over by the government, the original owners would still have proprietary interest in those schools. That understanding subsists until Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq decided to have interest in the hijab.
Governor Abdulrazaq represents a new kind of change in Kwara State. Before his ascension to power, the dominant force in Kwara politics was the enduring patriarchy of Dr Olusola Saraki and his son, Bukola. The Sarakis were supposed to represent the continuing dominance of the descendants of the Fulani in Ilorin over the Yoruba majority. The coming of Abdulrazaq was a seen as a credible challenge to the old Saraki hegemony. He came in with the Otoge (Enough!) battle cry and was swept to power on the ticket of All Progressives Congress, APC, the party of President Muhammadu Buhari.
In September 2018, a seminar was held at the Ikeja Airport Hotel, Lagos, in honour of the late Chief Bola Ige. Some Abdulrazaq partisans were present in large number at that seminar. I had tackled one of his partisans that this man who claims to represent the Yoruba of Kwara State does not have a single Yoruba name. Why should a fully-grown Yoruba person bears only foreign names? He said it was because of Abdulrazaq Islamic background. I pointed out to him that bearing your native names does not make you less religious. I gave the examples of Ayatollah Rhohollar Khomeini of Iran, Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt, Iyanda Folawiyo of Lagos, Arisekola Alao of Ibadan, Ibrahim Dasuki of Sokoto and many others.
The truth is that many Ilorin people, especially those who are Muslims, are struggling with their Yoruba heritage. They believe wrongly that the less Yoruba they become, the more acceptable they are to what they perceived to be the power-centres of Nigeria. Yet bearing their normal Yoruba names have not deprived the Ilorin people of the ability to rise. We have the illustrious examples of the Sarakis, Major-General Abdul Kareem Adisa, Major General Babatunde Idiagbon and many others.
Ilorin is an old city with an historical burden. It was founded in the 15th Century and by 18th Century it has become a thriving commercial centre. It was one of the provincial towns of the old Oyo Empire and it belonged to the Ekun Osi District where the Onikoyi of Ikoyi was the supervising sovereign under the Alaafin. Other towns in that district include; Irawo, Ogbomoso and Iwere. As Oyo Empire waxed stronger, it annexed some of the Igbomina settlements like Oro into its fold. The Igbomina sovereign was (and still is), the Orangun of Ila. The Orangun and the Alaafin are both sons of Oduduwa in Ile-Ife and therefore co-eval under the old Yoruba traditional constitutional arrangement.
Ilorin was to change all that. Early in the 19th Century, the Alaafin appointed Afonja, a well-respected general, as the new Aare Ona-Kakanfo (the generalissimo of Oyo Imperial Army).
The constitution forbade the Aare to live in the capital and share the same domicile with his overlord, the Alaafin. Therefore, Afonja stayed in Ilorin and with his new appointment, he had become senior to other generals like the Onikoyi, the Olugbon and the Aresa. Instead of keeping to his oath of office, Afonja decided to rebel against his overlord. In other to strengthen his hands, he invited a peripatetic Islamic preacher, Malam Alimi, to join him with his band of young converts called ogo were.
The ogo were, claiming to operate under the authority of the Aare, became a law to themselves. With unpalatable news coming from everywhere on the activities of this unruly band, the Aare decided to move against them. When Alimi got wind of this, he staged a pre-emptive coup and the Alimi forces were able to stage a surprise attack against Afonja in his house. The battle lasted for almost two weeks as Afonja, surrounded by his sons and other commanders gave a good account of himself. Note that none of the Yoruba top generals; Onikoyi, Olugbon, Aresa and others came to the aid of Afonja. Even Solagberu, Afonja’s old friend and the leader of Ilorin Muslims at Okesuna, refused to offer help.
The coup against Afonja had grave consequences in Yorubaland. It was that coup that led inexorably to the collapse of old Oyo Empire and the evacuation of its capital city, Oyo. Many important towns like Ikoyi and Iresa were destroyed. Owu was destroyed. When Ilorin forces finally captured Offa in 1887, they destroyed most of the town and decreed that male citizens must grow beards and convert to Islam under the pain of death. The taken over of Ilorin by a foreign power was bitter pill for the Yoruba ruling class to swallow. When the British signed the treaty of peace with Ibadan in 1888, that insisted that war must end. One of the Ibadan generals, dissatisfied, asked the interpreter: “Tell the white man to let us finish the Ilorin campaign first. Then peace!”
In 1897, the Royal Niger Company pacified Ilorin and by 1900, it became part of Northern Nigeria. All attempts by the leadership of the Western Region especially under Chief Obafemi Awolowo, to get Ilorin and Kabba Provinces transferred to the West failed at the different constitutional conferences leading to Nigeria’s independence. The agitation gave birth to the party, Egbe Talaka Parapo, which won all the seats in the Ilorin District Council elections prior to independence. Ahmadu Bello dissolved the council and clamped down on the Egbe. Respite came in 1967 when General Yakubu Gowon created the West Central State (later to be known as Kwara State) as part of the new 12 states federal structure.
It is significant that Dr Olusola Saraki’s dream was for Kwara State to be in the same political camp with the South West in 1998. He and Chief Ige had been friends since their student days in the United Kingdom. Therefore, the two of them were involved in the formation of the All Peoples Party, APP, during the final days of military rule in 1998. When Afenifere pulled out of APP, Saraki blamed Ige for it. I am not sure whether they ever reconcile on this matter. It is interesting now that it is the same party, the APC, that is ruling in most of the Yoruba States and also in Kwara and Kogi State.
This places a special burden on Governor Abdulrasaq. He has to remember his state is said to be the State of Harmony. He should allow the court to decide this case of hijab instead of him allowing an unnecessary crisis to derail his government. After all, as a child, his father sent him to Bishop Smith Memorial School, Ilorin, a Christian School, and his uniform did not affect his school certificate results. This is one storm in a teacup that should never be allowed to become a real storm. After all, Ilorin is a Yoruba city and in Yorubaland we learn to tolerate each other no matter the differences. It is time Ilorin comes to term with its identity.
PENDULUM: Why President Buhari May be A Blessing in Disguise
Fellow Nigerians, I’m sure, just like me, you’ve been wondering what could be driving the Federal Government of Nigeria towards pushing the country into perdition and collapse. I’m very convinced that President Muhammadu Buhari has no plans of succeeding in the governance of the country as a whole, or indeed of his beloved Northern part of the country, otherwise how can any serious leader not see the dangers and peril ahead. Practically every section of the country is in one turmoil or the other. And the lamentations are getting louder by the day.
At the end of the day, on greater reflection and rumination, as I travelled back from Port Harcourt to join in celebrating and felicitating with the dynamic and resourceful young female entrepreneur, Oyindamola Samira Lami Adeyemi as she celebrated her birthday yesterday, my conclusion is that Nigeria actually needed to have a leader as standoffish as Buhari to push our country to the brink of disintegration and it is now looking like a matter of time, seriously. It is not by coincidence that my hurried flight to join a small group of other close friends, including my great friend and brother, Damola Aderemi, Dr Deolu Akande and Dr Tunde Ayeni, in rejoicing with Oyindamola Adeyemi on her birthday, prompted me to ponder about wither Nigeria with Buhari in the saddle?
The beautiful, brainy, bright, classy Oyinda (as she is fondly called by friends) is the new face of Nigeria’s future. She is a cross between Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria. Her mother is from Gombe State whilst her father is from Ondo State. She is an entrepreneur par excellence who having conquered the male dominated world of Heavy Construction with her company, Still Earth Construction and Realty Limited, has delved into another male oriented space, that of upstream Oil and Gas services, with her exponentially developing company, Tirex Petroleum and Energy Limited. For young entrepreneurs and visionaries like Oyinda, with the background of both local and imperious Ivy League academic credentials that she possesses, the future of Nigeria lies in its cohesiveness and unity, which allows its citizens to enjoy its size and might as its strength, not only in Africa but also globally.
A unified Nigeria is feared by all for the giant leap that its young leaders like, Oyinda in the business world and Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu, Burna Boy and Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, Wizkid, David Adeleke, Davido, and others in the entertainment industry and Medical Doctor, Dr Onyema Ogbuagu, a leading contributor to the breakthrough in the Pfizer/Biontech COVID-19 vaccine, can deploy in bringing Nigeria to global focus and attention. Similarly, Nigeria can be the subject of dread for the international community, because of what its balkanisation and being split will mean to the world, as there will be large number of displaced persons that would be victims of the tragedy that would unfold, if the country is to break up into small ethnic nationalities that the prophets of doom are foretelling with their drums of war and warmongering.
I soliloquised and thought about how President Buhari and his aides and acolytes seem impervious to the ruination that Nigeria is being propelled headlong into at breakneck speed. Indeed, it seems that they are enjoying the giddy ride, as they justify all the monumental aberration that the Government has foisted on the people in the name of carrying on with Fulani hegemonistic propaganda and mantra. If we continue with this administration’s mad pursuit of imposing one tribe over others, and violently suppressing the yearnings and aspirations of the others, we will soon come to the cataclysmic end. We will all dance and partake in the macabre orgy of wanton destruction and death that will be unleashed on the country and its poor uncomprehending citizens. To me on sober, sombre contemplation and cogitation it seems this doom is what the President and some of the people closest to him wish for and desire. Perhaps there is an element of truth in what I previously considered to be the Niger Republic agenda!
Unfortunately, there seems to be no ambitious or vigorous opposition on ground to stand fast and firm and, insist that the country must return to the basic founding principles of true Federalism, where each Federating unit is free to chart its own course.
The biggest opposition Party, PDP, is already misbehaving like a victim of proper African jazz. It is sad that the Party that should naturally find it easy to pay the APC back with its own poison is talking plenty nonsense. How on earth can PDP leaders that should urgently cash in on the dwindling popularity and fortunes of APC be talking of zoning the 2023 Presidential slot to the North East after eight years of monumental disaster brought upon us by the APC? Sadly, the other younger political parties and politicians are simply not formidable enough, either individually or collectively, to challenge and defeat the status quo. This is my candid view.
My prediction is that Buhari may force Nigeria to break up violently if care is not taken. His I-don’t-care attitude is just extremely dangerous and bodes ill for the country’s future existence.
In case he has not read the communique issued at the end of the Pan-Yorùbá Meeting, on March 17, 2021, at Mapo Hall, Ìbàdàn, Oyo State, I hereby forward it to him in full. I’m yet to see a more powerfully worded summary, from one of the largest Nigeria ethnic nationalities, of the pestilence, superintended by Mr President, that is desperately trying to finally crush and exterminate Nigeria as a nation:
“We, the Yorùbá Leaders of Thought, comprising Ọbas, Chiefs, policy shapers, politicians, technocrats, intelligentsia, security-related groups, and socio-cultural groups, have met and decided for the Greater and Common Good of the Yorùbá, as follows:
1) The Yorùbá are resolute in their determination not to stand idle and watch our space and land desecrated. Only an arsonist allows a fire to burn and destroy. We will not permit strangers to abuse our hospitality and desecrate our hallowed land and our sacred spaces. Indeed, we invoke the ancient maledictions reserved for such malefactors. Our forests need no permission to swallow them.
2) The Yorùbá, are confronted by the realization that we are living in a time of bad metaphors. A time when dogs do not hearken unto the whistle of the hunter and the rivers which have forgotten their sources, still continue to flow. The world is turned inside out, and the socio-political fabric of Nigeria is ripped into shreds. Today in Buhari’s Nigeria, the ship of state has veered dangerously off course, and heads almost irreversibly towards jagged rocks of destruction. Insecurity has reached such an abyss that hundreds of people are kidnapped in broad daylight with impunity.
3) The Yorùbá are convinced that Nigeria is on the verge of a catastrophic calamity, of potentially greater magnitude than either the internecine conflict of 1967 to 1970 or the brazen disenfranchisement of 1993! Nigeria as we know it, has embarked on uncharted seas, with nihilists as crewmen. We are a country divided along distrusting ethnic lines, exhausted by its failures, cynical about its own future, authoritarian by reflex and controlled as a personality cult by a section of the country. The relentless pursuit of power by a group of self-servers, the ruthless cabal that respects neither Equity nor Equality, with an entrenched sense of entitlement, has taken away any sense of belonging to this union, by the Yorùbá. When injustice becomes law, resistance will be a duty!
4) The Yorùbá announce their exhaustion with this Government’s obsession with Lies and Denials of truths and facts. Farmers-Herders clashes are denied despite photographic evidence of massacres and eye-witness reports of mayhem. Terrorists roam the land in the garb of herdsmen, killing, raping, kidnapping and maiming, with little or no reaction from constituted authority. A high-ranking Government official declares that bandits are not criminals.
5) The Yorùbá are perplexed by the fact that the Nigerian state is bombing the Eastern Security Network (ESN). Yet, the same Government is embracing and romancing terrorists. It is now safe to say this is a Government that panders to terrorists, protects terrorists, pays ransoms to terrorists, and prevaricates Terrorism, with absolutely no sanction by the Northern dominated security apparatus of Nigeria. How exactly can such a Government continue to seek the support of the Yorùbá going forward!?!
6) The Yorùbá hereby make known their opposition to Sheikh Gumi’s interaction with these dreaded terrorists. A video circulating on social media that shows the Sheikh trying to divide the Nigerian Army along religious lines is an abominable wake-up call. The Sheikh is guilty of incitement, when he claims that it is Christian soldiers who attack bandits to sow religious tension. To encourage bandits to be selective in their reprisal attacks and avoid women and children is tantamount to aiding and abetting Terrorism and sabotage. The Sheikh has forgotten that thousands of Christian soldiers have lost their lives battling Boko Haram and other Terrorists. The Nigerian Military is one of the few institutions that have resisted division along religious lines. By condoning Sheikh Gumi’s felonious pronouncements, the Government is allowing him to fan the embers of crisis, while hiding under the cloak of mediation.
7) The Yorùbá are convinced that the North is already at war with itself. Rather than face that situation squarely, the Northern-controlled Federal Government keeps trying to divert attention by teasing out conflicts in some areas and exporting crisis to other locations. The Yorùbá call it, “da bi mo se da”. It will not work. The Yorùbá will not swallow the bait and allow our hard-won inheritance to be consumed in the consequent conflagration.
Cognizant of the foregoing, it has become imperative that the territory that was known as Western Region under the 1963 Constitution, along with other peoples having affinities with the Yoruba Nation in Edo, Delta, Kogi and Kwara be organised in pursuit of our political identity and socio-economic welfare of all. Notwithstanding any politically correct labels, our quest is to think through and fashion out the pathway for the progress of our peoples at the homeland and across the world.
The Yorùbá hereby resolve as follows:
i) The Yorùbá have decided to embark on a venture of massive resistance to the issue of insecurity. Àmòtékún and other support systems, fully incorporating both Traditional and Modern security measures and systems have been integrated to form the South West Security and Stakeholders Group (SWSSG) which is presented to the Yorùbá and the world today. The role of SWSSG is the protection of our patrimony, our physical and human assets, our forests and our intangible legacies which have been inviolate and inviolable for over a millennium.
ii) The forests of the Yorùbá are sacred, untouchable, and out-of-bounds to terrorists. May the curses of all our forefathers hold to account all who attempt to cede even one inch of our forests to any ranch or settlement for the use of foreigners, despoilers, ruiners, ravagers and desecraters of our forests. Our forests house our spirituality, our Essence. Our Egungun, our Oro, our spirit, our food security, our culture, our Being!
iii) The Yorùbá distance themselves from the oft-repeated untruth that “Nigeria’s unity is non-negotiable”. This is nothing but a falsehood. Be it known, now and ever — “The unity of Nigeria is highly negotiable!” If we cannot be happy together, then let us find peace and joy, apart. Nigeria can only remain Nigeria if all parties agree to deal equitably with each other.
iv) The Yorùbá are resolute in their fierce determination to pursue vigorously our own chosen destiny to be FREE men and women, and never to be 2nd class citizens in our own land and space…”
A big thanks to my childhood friend, MOGAJI GBOYEGA ADEJUMO for this wonderful rendition of what is heartfelt by many diverse nationalities in Nigeria. He may have been speaking on behalf of any one of them.
This course, presently being pursued by President Buhari and his cronies, may well be a blessing in disguise because it is forcing leaders of thought, different from politicians, to stake their claim to this country and say it will not be destroyed by the pervasive insanity that appears to have afflicted a few people. Instead, there will be orderliness and method to how Nigeria survives as a fair organised and structured society or how it is dismembered into separate smaller but viable recognisable nations.
It is left to the President to decide which way the die will be cast and what his legacy will be, survival or ruin, continuation or cessation! God bless Nigeria always!!
TINUBU’S STATEMENT ON THE HERDER CRISIS
The herder-farmer dispute has taken on acute and violent dimensions. It has cost too many innocent lives while destroying the property and livelihoods of many others. It has also aggravated ethnic sentiment and political tension. Despite the efforts of some of those in positions of high responsibility and public trust, the crisis has not significantly abated. Sadly, others who should know better have incited matters by tossing about hate-tainted statements that fall dangerously short of the leadership these people claim to provide. We all must get hold of our better selves to treat this matter with the sobriety it requires.
Because of the violence that has ensued and the fretful consequences of such violence if left unabated, we must move in unison but decisively to end the spiral of death and destruction. Only when the violence and the illogic of it are halted can logic and reason prevail. Until the violence is rolled back, we cannot resolve the deep problems that underlie this conflict. We will neither be able to uplift the farmer from his impoverished toil nor move the herder toward the historic transformation which he must make.
Yet, as vital as security is to the resolution of this matter, we must realize security measures alone will not suffice. Enhanced security may be the necessary first step, but it cannot be the only step. Nor do we resolve this by hitching ourselves to emotional, one-dimensional answers. More to the point, those who cast this as exclusively a matter of ethnic confrontation are mistaken. This is no time for reckless chauvinism of any kind, on either side of this dispute. This matter is not ethnic in factual origin or actual causation although in the minds and hearts of too many it has become ethnic in recrimination and impulsive action.
There have been sporadic disputes in the past but this one is more severe. The reasons for the greater violence of this current dispute are myriad. Economic hardship and its resultant dislocation, proliferation of weapons, generalized increase in criminality, and weakening of social institutions all play a role. Desertification, increased severity and length of the dry season, diminution of water resources, impairment of land fertility and population growth also contribute in no small measure. Thus, any durable solution must get at most, if not all, of these issues.
Farmers have a right to farm their land unmolested. Herders have a right to raise their livestock without undue interference. However, when conflict between these groups arises to such an extent, we must set forth clear principles and policies to remove the tension, in order to allow both to proceed toward their stated goals and to live in harmony and according to their respective rights. Just as I cannot go into your house and take your shirt because I do not have one of like colour, no one can destroy the crops of a farmer or seize the cattle of a herder simply because such destruction sates their anger or their selfish, short-term interests. If such a condition were to hold, then all would turn into chaos; all would be in jeopardy of being lost. To destroy the crops or seize the property of the innocent farmer or herder is nothing if not an act of criminality.
Here, I must state two fundamental realities. One has been previously mentioned by me and others as part of the solution. The other reality is hardly discussed.
First, the situation of the herder is becoming untenable. Their nomadic ways fall increasingly in conflict with the dictates of modern society. This way of life is centuries old and steeped in tradition. We can never condone or accept violence as a valid response to any hardship. However, we all must recognize and understand the sense of dislocation caused by the sudden passing of such a longstanding social institution.
I mention their dislocation not to excuse violence and other excesses. I raise it to underscore that we must realize the true complexity of this crisis. What is happening has been terrible, but it is not due to any intrinsic evil in either the herder or the farmer. The calamity now being faced is borne of situational exigencies. It is but the tragic outcome when often desperate, alienated people are left too long unattended and when their understanding of the modern socio-economic and environmental forces affecting the very terms of their existence is incomplete. An ethnically fuelled response will be to vociferously defend the nomadic way believing this tack will somehow protect the herder and cast the speaker as an ethnic champion. However, careless words cannot shield the herder from relentless reality. Such talk will only delude him into believing that he can somehow escape the inevitable. We do both herder and farmer grave injustice by allowing the herder to continue as he is – fighting a losing battle against modernity and climate change. In that fight, desperation causes him to flail and fight the farmer, who too is a victim of these impersonal forces.
Second, to help the herder and leave the farmer unattended is unfair and will only trigger a resentment that tracks already heated ethnic fault lines. The times have also been perilous for the hardscrabble farmer. He needs help to survive and to be more productive in ways that increases national food security. Farm productivity and incomes must be enhanced. Soil enrichment, better irrigation and water retention as well as provision of better rural roads, equipment and access to modern machinery are required to lift him above bare subsistence.
Both innocent and law-abiding farmer and herder need to be recompensed for the losses they have suffered. Both need further assistance to break the current cycle of violence and poverty. In short, the continued progressive reform of many of our rural socio-economic relationships is called for.
Based on these strategic observations, I recommend the federal government convene a meeting of state governors, senior security officials, herder and farmer representatives, along with traditional rulers and religious leaders. The purpose of this meeting would be to hammer out a set of working principles to resolve the crisis.
After this meeting, governors of each state should convene follow-up meetings in their states to refine and add flesh to the universal principles by adjusting them to the particular circumstances of their states. In addition to religious and traditional leaders and local farmer and herder representatives, these meetings shall include the state’s best security minds along with experts in agriculture (livestock and farming), land use and water management to draw specific plans for their states.
To accomplish this goal, wise policy must include the following elements:
1. Maintain reasonable and effective law enforcement presence in affected areas. The proposed reform of the Nigerian law enforcement apparatus towards state and community policing can help in this regard. The legislative and administrative measures required to make this a reality should be expedited. In addition to alleviating the present farmer-herder crisis, this reform will also bolster efforts against the banditry, kidnapping and robbery plaguing communities across the country. Governments need to employ new technology and equipment to enhance the information gathering/surveillance and response capabilities of law enforcement.
- Help the herders’ transition to more sedentary but more profitable methods of cattle-rearing. Unoccupied public land can be fenced into grazing areas or ranches and leased to herders on a very low-cost, nominal basis. The leasing is not intended to penalize herders. Rather, the nominal fee is intended to ensure the herders are invested in the project and incentivized (by reason of their investment) to use the land provided. This aspect will also mitigate any resentment over herders being given land for free. Government, in turn, being a responsible lessor, must help with supplemental feed and water in these areas. This will enable herders to better maintain and care for their livestock thus enhancing their incomes. Herders can augment income by becoming suppliers to the leather goods industry. Additionally, herders can also develop a more symbiotic relationship with farmers by, for example, trading animal compost to the farmer in exchange for animal feed.
Assist farmers increase productivity by supporting or providing subvention for their acquisition of fertilizer, equipment and machinery and, also, by establishing commodity boards to guarantee minimum prices for important crops. In the medium to long term, resources must be dedicated to establishing better irrigation and water catchment systems to further improve farm productivity and mitigate the dire impact of flood and drought cycles brought about by extreme climatic conditions.
Establish a permanent panel in each state as a forum for farmers, herders, security officials and senior state officials to discuss their concerns, mitigate contention and identify trouble and douse it before it erupts.
We are a populous nation of diverse ethnic groups. We are a people of potential richness, yet to escape present poverty. We have resources but not wealth. Often, our words speak of hope and fear in the same breath. While we all hope and strive for the best, many fear that there is not enough of what is needed to go around and that they will be left out. In such a situation, harsh competition and contest are fated to occur. In the unfolding of this social dynamic, one group of actors has been pitted against another over dwindling water and fertile ground. The confrontation has resulted in the needless loss of life and destruction of property. If left to itself, this situation may spread and threaten the progress of the nation. It could call into proximate question the utility of the social compact that holds government and governed in positive bond, one to the other. We have a decision to make. Do we attempt the hard things that decency requires of us to right the situation? Or do we allow ourselves to be slave to short term motives that appeal to base instinct that run afoul of the democratic principles upon which this republic is founded and for which so many have already sacrificed so much? In the question itself, lies the answer.
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
March 13, 2021.
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