Very recently, the daughter of the leader of Afenirere, a Yoruba socio-political group,
Reuben Fasoranti, was killed along the Ore-Lagos road by gun men.
According to the group’s spokesperson, Mrs. Funke Olakunrin was killed by “Fulani herdsmen”
who were said to have emerged out of the bush and fatally shot Mrs. Olakunrin.
The eye witness account of the driver and the house help, who were with the deceased at the time of her death, were however at
variance with the account of the Afenirere spokesperson.
They stated that the gunmen that killed their boss had masks on their faces and it was difficult to ascertain their true identity.
All these accounts came into the media space, even when the police,
who have the constitutional responsibilities were yet to make a statement.
For sometimes now, Fulani herdsmen have singularly been accused as being responsible for herdsmen/farmer killings
, rape, kidnappings, banditry and assassinations. Before now, Fulani herdsmen atrocities were limited to the north central states.
These states include Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Nassarawa and parts of Kogi state.
It is however ironic that all of a sudden, Fulani herdsmen seem to have expanded their influence of terror to virtually all the states of the Federation.
They also seem to have perpetrated acts of banditry, kidnapping, rapes etc, particularly in the major highways of the north and south western parts of Nigeria.
Fulani herdsmen are originally known for their pastoral natures of herding for their cows.
From time immemorial, these Fulani’s had cohabited with people in their host communities all over Nigeria.
The question needs to be asked “why have the Fulani herdsmen suddenly metamorphosed into what they are perceived to be now?
Is the current state of insecurity in parts of Nigeria truly part of the Fulani herdsmen fault?
Are other criminal elements in Nigeria capitalising on the herdsmen “killer” tag to cover up for their atrocities?
Are the government and the security agencies doing enough to protect lives and properties?
It is pertinent to state that the tensions generated by those uncontrolled spate of insecurity which is as a result of the
seemingly alarming high rate of extra judicial killings are mostly attributed to the activities of the perceived Fulani killer herdsmen.
It is ironically obvious that the rate of insecurity and its effects on the socio-political and economy of Nigeria is becoming
unbearable for a country that is hanging frail due to mutual suspicions amongst the ethnic nationalities such as: the Middle Belt Forum,
Arewa consultative forum, the Afenirere, Ohaneze Ndigbo, Ijaw National Congress etc had been formed to protect the rights and advancing the cause of their people.
Most of these ethnic organisations have played pivotal roles in the various struggles and crises that made up pre-independent and post-independent Nigeria.
The actions and inaction of these ethnic and regional groupings and their suspicions amongst themselves was
what led to the many crises in pre and post independent Nigeria. Crises like the Kano riot of 1953, January 15th 1966 coup and the other coups
that followed, snowballed into a fully fledged civil war between 1967-1970. It’s saddening to note that up to this very moment, t
he Nigeria political space have been bedeviled with all manner of unnecessary crises and tensions.
The crises that have bedeviled the Nigerian state has become so hydra headed that it’s seemingly very difficult to solve.
The current situation of insecurity has led the various ethnic nationalities to once again call for the revising of the issues of “restructuring” and “true federalism”.
Some have even previously agitated for secession, like the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) in the eastern part of Nigeria.
Nigeria at present is so politically divided and tensed up. It is my fear that if nothing is done to appease and reassure the concerns of those
that are aggrieved and feel threatened by the current state of the polity, the country will in no time explode into a civil war and a war of secession.
The Nigerian state will obviously fall apart as a result of the fact that the cord of patriotism and national unity that seem to be holding us together may collapse.
If this happens, then, an inevitable war of immense and monumental proportion will engulf the Nigerian space.
The note of warning is that a second civil war in Nigeria will definitely bring an end to what is presently referred to as Nigeria.
Nigerians and our political leaders should note that the Rwandan genocide will be a child’s play in comparison to what a war will be in Nigeria.
The consequences of a war in the present day Nigeria will not just be devastation to Nigeria, but the African continent and the world at large will be massively affected.
Our size, location, population will be key areas affected. It would rather be imagined than experienced.
Our leaders and politicians, out of corruptible tendencies and unpatriotic attitudes have negated the lessons from our previous crises and conflicts.
There is no gainsaying that there were fault lines at the very beginning of our nationhood with the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern
protectorate in 1914 by the British colonial masters. The event of the 1914 was the beginning of unresolved fundamental issues of unity and togetherness.
The manner, in which the British colonialist fostered the two protectorates together without taking cognisance of the will and wish of the
inhabitants of the territories that fused into Nigeria, was the onset of suspicions and disunity.
History has shown that the seed of mutual suspicion as stated above in present day Nigeria were unconnected with the results of the forceful amalgamation.
The British colonialist in their quest to conquer, control and expand the colonial territories for nothing more than economic and exploitative reasons,
forcefully married a people that had diverse traditions and norms.
In my view, this forced marriage of co-habitation without proper assimilation of the people was what culminated into the crises
that led to the Nigerian civil war where many lives were lost. Nigeria at present has still not been able to overcome the negative consequences of that war.
One of the earliest pre-independence crises that showed the level of disunity and suspicion was the Kano riots of 1953; the riot was a result of fundamental issues of distrust between the political leaders of northern and southern Nigerian. The Kano riot of 1953 was brought about by the rejection of the motion of self governance by Anthony Enahoro of southern dominated National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) and Action Group (AG) parties in parliament. The northern dominated Northern People’s Congress (NPC) in parliament was opposed to the self-governance motion. The northerners expressed their unreadiness for self governance. The southerners on the other hand, vehemently pushed for the passage of the motion for self rule/governance.
Tensions went overboard when NPC members were mobbed and insulted by crowds in Lagos as they stepped out of the parliamentary house in Lagos. The immediate cause of that significant Kano riot of 1953 was when a delegation of the members of the south dominated NCNC and the AG parties went on visitations to the north, particularly Kano to campaign for support for self governance. The visit was the immediate cause effect of the Kano riot. “Sabon Gari” an enclave occupied by majorly non-northerners was attacked by those who mobilised the northern citizens to resist any form of campaign by the delegation.
The riots lead to the several deaths and loss of properties. The implication of that crisis was that it led to the collapse of the McPherson constitution of 1951. The Kano riots of 1953 birthed the foundation for the 1966 coup and the Nigeria Biafra war (civil war) of 1967-1970. The events of 1966 and the civil war of 1967-1970 became a watershed moment in the history of post colonial Nigeria.
The independence of Nigeria on October 1st, 1960, marked an era of an attempt to build a strong, united and prosperous nation in Africa. However there was again tensions that emanated from conflicting interest and political aspirations of ethnic nationalities that were diverse across the Nigerian geo political space.
As stated earlier, the British colonial masters had made little efforts at uniting various ethnic groups in pre and independent Nigeria. The exploitative and indirect rule system of the British negated any effort at promoting unity and solidarity amongst various ethnicities. This suspicion and distrust heightened the tensions in the young independent Nigeria. The Nigerian civil war was responsible for a lot of loss of lives either through fighting or starvation.
Therefore it is right to state that the tensions in the nation at present, as a result of insecurity and ethnic suspicions, must not be taken lightly. The government must give it an attentive audience and be swift in a sincere action to forestall the breakdown of law and order and its likely degeneration into war.
The insecurity brought about by the Fulani herdsmen or any group of killers for that matter from any part of the country must not be treated with levity.
The wishes of our founding fathers were for a nation that cherishes its diversity, unity, and its peaceful coexistence and cohabitation of the various ethnic nationalities in an indivisible Nigeria. The hate speeches from the various sections of the country will only further worsen the already tensed state of our nation. The threat to lives, properties and land from evil actions of these killers, and the subsequent hate speeches from leaders of regional groups is of no good to a nation that is on a dangerous precipice where danger may no longer be held at bay
The 1999 constitution of Nigeria in its very first chapter states that the security of lives and properties of every Nigerian shall be the number one priority of government. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria must therefore devise a holistic approach to the issue of insecurity in the country. If the government had taken a serious look into the menace and crises brought about by the herdsmen/farmers crises, it wouldn’t have evolved into what we now have as banditry, kidnapping and armed robbery across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
The reality of the current state of insecurity in Nigeria is that the Fulani’s are seen as those who perpetrate all the acts of criminality across different parts of the country. There is no gainsaying that our diversity and unity have been mismanaged by the political leaders and elites. It must be clearly stated that perception, may most times be as potent as reality itself.
I therefore strongly align with the submission of the President of the Nigerian Senate, Ahmed Lawan, who is advocating for a security summit. Such security summit must deviate from previous results and must be very sincere in its recommendations. The government must also be willing and proactive at implementing such recommendation.
If well thought out and implemented, it will massively solve all issues and perceptions of suspicions by ethnic groupings and will go a long way at reassuring the citizens that the government has capacity and capabilities to protect, defend the rights and privileges of all irrespective of ethnicity religion or regions they belong.
The entire world is watching every development in Nigeria. Not too long ago the United States government and Congress and the United Kingdom House of Lords showed concerns and even debated the security issues in Africa’s most populous nation. It is important to note that the two nations are abreast with the implications and consequences of the insecurity issues in Nigeria.
From their perspective, Nigeria cannot afford to degenerate to war at this point in time. A civil war in this century will have a devastating effect on not just Africa but the world at large. This is by virtue of the geographical positioning, population and the economy of Nigeria.
It is pertinent at this point to say that the current insecurity situations in Nigeria should be approached by a holistic patriotic home-grown solution. Truth be told, the issues are beyond rhetoric’s. It is time to see beyond the attachment of the crises to the activities of Fulani herdsmen. Concerted effort must be made to deal with those responsible for the incessant killings. Peace must be restored.
The government and persons of goodwill must look holistically at the factors that have continually precipitated mutual suspicions amongst the ethnic nationalities and the government. The insecurity issues should not and must not be giving Fulani coloration. It now becomes common place to attribute most crimes to the Fulani herdsmen. It is also very pathetic to hear regional leaders and political elites calling for the Fulani’s living in other parts of the country to go back to the north.
We can all cohabit or coexist together irrespective of where we come from.
The government and security agencies should as a matter of priority, separate the killer herdsmen from the Fulani population. It should also ensure that criminals hiding under the coloration of the Fulani’s to perpetrate criminality must be weeded out no matter where they are.
Nigeria is strong only if we appreciate our unity in our diversity.