Interrogating Southwest’s approach to ending its nascent insecurity. By Femi Orebe
Forests have names in Yoruba land: they must go and speak to the forests in the language they understand to vomit those vermins.
I doubt if these rampaging killer Fulanis tender any herds again. They have turned professional kidnappers and since you fight fire with fire I think OPC, Agbekoya and our hunters who hunt in the densest of forests should be dispatched, as first responders, to clean up our forests.
Were Yoruba leaders, especially, traditional and political, reticent in their response to the new wave of insecurity in the region? Yes, without a doubt. Indeed, the word ‘reticent’, is very respectful in describing their response to what has become not only scary, but excessively rampant, in a region that used to be the most peaceful part of Nigeria.
That, of course, was not the case with a particular section of the region’s political leadership which has graduated into making political capital out of every issue in their attempt to exit the political Siberia some younger elements sentenced them a little over a decade ago. For them, every kidnap, every armed robbery incident, was an opportunity to lampoon President Buhari even if they won’t offer a word as to how to end the menace. For them, it couldn’t have been more divine that Buhari is both a Fulani and cattle owner. There was always no remembering that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is also Fulani and a patron of Miyetti Allah.
My observation above should not be seen as a slur on state governors who have been trying to moderate herdsmen’s/farmers’ clashes in their respective states. I am therefore saying, in essence, that the new wave of insecurity that engulfed Yoruba land in the recent past is not the same as the herders’/ farmers crisis.
In other words, it is different from what Olugbenga, Ebenezer Olatunji described in: Peace By Pieces: The Politics Of Herdsmen’s Attacks as “incessant attacks by itinerant herdsmen on farmers and host communities in different parts of Nigeria which have claimed many lives, destroyed farm crops and sacked entire communities”. He went further to observe that these attacks are dangerous to peaceful cohabitation and can threaten national peace, unity and progress”. Writing further, he posited that only a few of our politicians who are genuinely concerned about lasting peace, security and national unity have been pushing for legitimate means of bringing the attacks under control”.
In my view, however, given our present circumstances in Nigeria, the federal government’s
idea of Ruga Settlements for herdsmen is not one of such legitimate means. It should, therefore, be considered dead on arrival as it ignores lessons from Nigerian history, especially, that of the Hausa –Fulani. Fortunately, it has already been rejected by Benue and Southeast governors, as well as Taraba and Ondo. It beats imagination that the federal government could think that a group whose activities have become so dangerous to society should be so preferentially treated. It must, instead, go and seriously seek ways out of a problem that has everything in it to completely destroy the country.
What then is the status of the current insecurity in Yoruba land?
Put simply, it is Fulani bandits, rogues and kidnappers, doubling down on Yoruba land and this conclusion is the fartherest thing from ethnic profiling, as some of my Yoruba compatriots are always eager to brand it. I do not dispute the fact that our own local criminals kidnap and steal, but certainly not in cahoots with these non-Nigerian Fulanis who show no mercy, whatever, and were, initially imported by top Fulani herd owners to protect their cattle against rustling. They have since discovered that they could make millions, if not billions, and have since abandoned their employments. We must thank the Emir of Anka, Zamfara State, Alhaji Attahiru Ahmad, who, like the new Zamfara governor, has called on Fulani leaders to call their people to order following the spate of crimes involving Fulani herdsmen all over the country.
Concerning them, below is the relevant portion of the startling research findings by Professor Charles Adisa, published by the Chinua Achebe Centre for Leadership and Development (CACLAD): “Our fact finding team visited “Ama Hausa and Garki” camps in both Enugu and Abia States. They also interviewed neighbours from the local communities living within and around the Hausa communities in both states. Both the northerners and the local community were very open and volunteered valuable information to our team. There seems to be a willingness and eagerness for the violence to end.
Below, are our findings.
The Fulani herdsmen terrorists are Fulanis but mostly NON-NIGERIANS. About ten percent of them are Nigerians and they live within the Hausa Fulani communities in Ama-Hausa and Garki’s in the South East and South-south regions.
They do not own cattle: This is one revelation that may come as a surprise to many. Fulani herdsmen killers’ major job description is just to kill. Most of them are employed by the cattle owners as “security men” whose job is strictly to protect the cattle. They do not however follow the cattle around, but move in separate vehicles along a defined route within the states where cattle are being reared.
The Ama-Hausas and Garkis harbour 80% of the Fulani herdsmen killers: This is a very important revelation. The Garkis consist mostly Hausas and other minorities from the north, but within them, the Fulani herdsmen killers reside. The northerners were able to show us these Fulani herdsmen “security personnel”, and they were dressed differently from the normal Northern Nigerians within these settlements. They were young, less religious; most of them use drugs, and consume alcohol. They are mostly migrants from Chad, Niger, and other Fulani enclaves outside the Nigerian state”.
Yoruba leaders, in particular, must realise that what these killers are beginning to do now is infiltrating our forests to establish those ‘Ama- Hausas and Garkis’. They should leave President Buhari and his government, the council of state inclusive, to face up to finding solution to the Fulani herdsmen/farmers problem which is common to all parts of Nigeria but squarely face how to rid our forests of these stranger elements who though , were imported as cattle guards, are now professional kidnappers.
In none of the reported cases of kidnapping, especially where victims were lucky enough to tell their story, were we told of these kidnappers tending any cattle. They differ from the Bororos who are mostly found in Oyo and other Yoruba states, but with their flock. With these genuine herdsmen, our leaders must continue to engage to arrive at peaceful means of co – habitation but not so with these other outright criminals whose primary motive is to make kidnap to money. They are in no way different from those the Nigerian armed forces are battling in Zamfara and other northern states, killing in droves. These killers, for that exactly is what they are, move in dozens, armed with the most sophisticated weapons, seizing highways, farms and communities, raping , killing, and yet receiving millions in ransom. But confronted with a well prepared colony of Yoruba hunters, I am sure they will be the ones to surrender.
If Yorubas successfully fought the Abacha war – thanks to our thinking leaders and their subalterns who brought NADECO about, I haven’t the slightest doubt that we will beat these stragglers. With their guns, hands down. But to successfully do this, our political leaders must give our traditional rulers and the communities, a wide canvass, and sufficiently mobilise them to press into this ‘war’, every Yoruba group, whatever name called, that has the ability to help save our land from this epidemic. O ni oruko ti igbo nje nile Yoruba. Forests have names in Yoruba land: they must go and speak to the forests in the language they understand to vomit those vermins.
Yes technology, as in drones, should help but we should not forget that their minders would instruct them to use leaves to camouflage. After all, there are allegations out there of choppers being sited, dropping things in the Southeast forest area of Akwueke community, Enugwu, Enugu South. I am completely taken aback by our leaders’ reliance on a state police that is yet to be legalised, not to talk of being in place, as the panacea to a rampaging pestilence we should have exorcised from Yoruba land like yesterday.
We must know that we are in a war of survival to free us from some uncircumcised criminals intent on hemming us in, turning our women to widows and making orphans of our children. These people, who show no mercy, deserve none. Whoever reads this must remember, however, that I made a distinction between genuine Fulani herders who continue to stretch southwards because of climate change, and the need to locate lush vegetation for their herds, and those non Nigerians who are here to kill and make money. But even the Nigerian Fulani herdsman must respect the local farmers who daily toil on the farms they routinely vandalise.