Troubled times! Troubling times! The Fulani herdsmen crisis has assumed a more frightening direction as people, tired of government failures are now taking matters into their hands. This time, unlike other times, it is happening in the south of Nigeria, notably Oyo state. There are stories that the same situation has developed in Ebonyi state. Properties of northerners are being raised to the ground. Thankfully, there has not been any serious report or reports of deaths in these places.
The reaction on social media is equally important enough to contend with. Some, quite rightly are calling for calm, for government at state and federal levels to step in. Others are however sabre rattling, promising reprisal and vengeance on southerners up north. But not all northerners are on the same page with such people. The period of the “One united monolithic north” has long been over following decades of socio-political contradictions.
If ever there is a time for calmness and deep thinking, it is a time such as this. Nigeria as a country has faced a lot of dangerous moments. Our sixty years of chequered post independence history has been six decades of constant and consistent disappointment, missed opportunities, all brought about by mis-governance under the supervision of an irresponsible and self-centred set of political elites without a sense of national vision, pride, and patriotism.
Those who do not know. Those living in denial, had better open their eyes to the realities of our present. Nigeria is closer than ever before to an all out social, political and economic conflagration and anarchy..Nobody will be unscathed. Nobody will escape the consequences. People from all sides will die and at the end of the day, the country, as we know it will die. For those who are oblivious to the dangers of war and civil strife, just look at what Syria and Libya have become. Consider the 90 day madness and orgy of violence in Rwanda in 1994 in which about a million people were killed. This translated to about 10,000 lives lost per day in a gruesome act of violence. Those who are beating the drums of war as well as those dancing to the beat must sit back, think, and remember their humanity. We have continually said that no tribe or ethnic group, no civilization, and no religion is superior and better than the other. No human life is more valuable than the other. Certainly, the life of a president or governor or minister is not more valuable than those of a tailor or shoemaker. We did not create life and it is not ours to take at will. We must make sure that northern lives as well as southern lives are protected in all parts of the country at all times.
It is shameful that it is only now that some of our brothers from the north are beginning to speak out stridently in condemnation of the dangerous proclivities and murderous activities of Fulani herdsmen – activities that have been going on long before now. For a long time, despite glaring evidence of their dangerous misbehaviour in different parts of the country, the defenders and sympathisers of the herdsmen accused affected and victimized ethnic groups of ethnic profiling. As a result, the government through the ministry of communications and the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) pressured media houses to drop the term ‘Fulani Herdsmen’ to simply ‘Herdsmen.’
Of course, that did not change their murderous activities as the kinappings, rapes, and killings continued. Meanwhile alarm was raised several times about their unhindered, illegal open carriage of AK47s while other ethnic groups were denied the same luxury. The federal government simply chose to ignore it, until now that other groups have also decided to arm themselves illegally for the purpose of self defense. The FG’s recent position to call for the arrest of anybody carrying illegal arms might be the right call but it is coming too late. Besides, government has consistently shown that it lacks the capacity to keep the citizens safe from acts of violence.
Those from the north who are rightly condemning the violence in the south can surely not forget that the north over the years has been a regular killing field where southerners became victims of a process they had nothing to do with. Examples abound of the different acts of violence against southerners, especially Igbos. Did they rise and raise their voices in condemnation? Of course not! But it is no excuse for anybody in the south to justify what is going on.
There is no doubt that there is an economic interest of some powerful forces behind the crisis that is going on in the country. These forces over the years have been responsible for procuring sophisticated arms for these killers as well as the political protections provided for them. But regardless of the ambitions of these agents of darkness, by now it should be clear to them that any attempt to forcefully change the demographics of any ethnic group or groups in the country will meet with failure – that is if some of the ongoing insinuations and suspicions are to be believed.
Ultimately, the prevailing situation in the country and subsequent happenings will define the legacy of President Muhammadu Buhari who promised to be the president of all and for all. Sadly, the president, supposedly the father of the nation, in words and deeds, has consistently shown bias in favour of some of his children over others. This has contributed to the deepening of the crisis.
As we look for ways to avert a looming catastrophe, let us remember that we are all endangered. Let peace prevail.