I told them that Fulani [are] coming and they said that I [was] a warmonger…today they are here
Whichever angle you view the unfolding developments in our polity, every ethnic group in today’s Nigeria (other than the Fulani) is suffering a form of victim mentality. Also, there is a growing slave mentality among the different groups that makes the Fulani look like the only free-born in our land today.
If that was the original agenda when the Fulani set foot on the Nigerian soil, today, they should have President Muhammadu Buhari to thank for enabling it in this era. However you want to perceive it, the Buhari presidency has given Fulani people much psychological boost. The superiority complex they exhibit is such that has placed them shoulders above every ethnic group particularly, in the politics of dominance and territorial occupation. In a way, the Fulani have become the weather cork to measure the geopolitical North and Islam in Nigeria. For you to be a good Muslim or a good northerner, you must meet the standard set by the Fulani.
Why not? The Fulani, when they arrived on these shores c.18th Century, they carried out the jihad that forced Islam on some indigenous peoples of Nigeria. They created the Caliphate as the apex in the religious-political structure of Islamic rule. Today, the Sultan of Sokoto is the undisputed leader of Nigerian Muslims. Whatever political dominance the Fulani enjoy today could be a reward for their conqueror-ancestors. The headache now is that their progenies want to extend their territory.
Why not if others choose to watch and lament? The coming into power of one of their own has helped in their pursuit of this long-cherished desire. Those whose own forefathers frustrated the original mission of dipping the Quran in the Atlantic but are unable to stand out now should face the brunt. That is what the other ethnic groups, Igbo, Yoruba, Tiv, and others are facing at the moment and crying of enslavement.
Until Buhari came onto the political scene as the President and Commander-in-Chief in 2015, the Fulani were seen as a people with some deft and nifty politics, amiable, and accommodating. The presidency of Fulani sons of the blessed memory, Shehu Shagari (1979 to 1983) and Umaru Yar’Adua (2007 to 2010) say a lot about the quality of Fulani sagacious leadership we were used to. Before now, Fulani herdsmen were fun to behold all over Nigeria with their unique fashion. In the South-East, they were seen with their cows relating well with the farmers. As growing children then, their mystic stick delighted us back in the villages as we admired their very unique attires. It was believed that with the stick always hung on their shoulders they could turn to cows themselves and sleep at night and return to humanity in the daytime. It was also believed that the sticks helped the herders in their communications with the cows. It was also held then that the herdsman’s stick was supernaturally equipped to ward off any danger like snakes or other dangerous animals in the wild. Nobody was afraid of a Fulani man in our forests then. Instead, local hunters shared routes with them, and there were never any clashes. The Fulani man of yore could stroll into homes to take some burning charcoal from locals to make a fire in the bush.
All that changed when Buhari came to power. The mystic herdsman’s stick transformed to an AK 47 assault weapon. While rearing their cattle this time they wreak havoc along their routes, they kidnap, maim, and rape alongside their herding.
Their coordinating body, Miyetti Allah, that was hitherto unknown suddenly sprang up and became a formidable power bloc in the body politic of our nation. It was long discovered that they were being pampered by this regime but it became apparent when the system refused to acknowledge the said havoc.
When the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, was outlawed and tagged a terrorist organization, it was thought Miyetti Allah would have come first. Instead, the group was flaunting their newfound importance and laying claim to being behind some atrocities across the country and nothing happened.
Even where arrests were made they were quickly released on orders from the top. Often to avoid being in trouble those who make arrests lie that those arrested were actually in protective custody. The fear of Fulani herdsmen became a mark of wisdom for security operatives. In one instance in a village in the South-East, a speeding truck killed a cow and sped off to another state where it was headed, the Fulani owners insisted that the village where the cow was hit must pay for it or they would wait for a reprisal.
The panicky villagers ran to the police who urged them to contribute money in compensation to head off imminent trouble. When pressed to invite the Fulani and warn them against threatening the village for what they know nothing about, the DPO declined, saying, “I don’t want to lose my job; my CP (meaning Commissioner of Police in the state is Fulani. I don’t want wahala,” the Igbo DPO pleaded in obvious panic. He explained to the villagers: “You people won’t understand how passionate these people are about their cows, referring to his CP. In the nearly five years of Buhari regime, only Muslim northerners have occupied the CP positions in virtually if not all the South-East states. When you hear some southern governors rushing to pay ransom for cows killed in their state and paying nothing for humans, it’s all a fallout of the Fulani era in our polity and our growing slave mentality.
But no matter how dangerous and fearful you are and how much protection you enjoy from powers-that-be at a time, expect a rebound when you push your victims to the wall and that’s what the herdsmen menace has brought on the country nowadays.
In the South-West, the leaders created Amotekun security outfit to help the once dreaded O’Odua Peoples Congress, OPC, but herdsmen defied all, forcing the pro-North Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State to issue the controversial quit notice that still changed nothing until the Yoruba ancestors hastily raised one Sunday Adeyemo also known as Sunday Igboho to help in restoring the people’s confidence once again. As Igboho ran riot, you could see helpless people finding back their voice and saying they were no Fulani slaves. Even the highly revered Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, in pledging support for the next Yoruba hero Igboho, talked about the people being enslaved in their ancestral land. Imagine if Soyinka, 86, were still young! The person who portrayed the slave mentality more aptly was the royal father of Iseluland in Ogun State, Oba Akintunde Akinyemi while declaring support for the anti-herdsmen hero Igboho.
In the Middle Belt, particularly in Benue and Plateau states, the herdsmen troubles have become fabled. Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue became an outstanding hero in Tivland for his ruthless tackle of the menace. The Tiv/Fulani feud has a history behind it, the Tiv helped to halt the match of Islam in Benue Basin. Also, it was a Tiv man, Joseph Tarka, who led the revolt against the Fulani hegemony in the old Northern Region. So what Gov. Ortom is doing, especially his no-holds-barred faceoff with Buhari soon after coming out of his COVID-19 isolation, was like answering his Papa’s name, to borrow the Igbo parlance. Ortom’s assertion that the Tiv are no slaves in Nigeria should be understood in that historical context. Undiplomatic Nnamdi Kanu of IPOB has also repeatedly underscored that same theme–his Biafra people are no slaves to the Janjaweed Fulani terrorists. Kanu had to even go outside his no arms rule to create the Eastern Security Network to protect his ‘Biafra’ people from the incessant herdsmen’s attacks.
However you put it, the truth remains that the Fulani, through the herdsmen very virulent attitude have successfully forced the slave mentality upon the rest of Nigeria. The rest of ethnic Nigeria is feeling subdued before the Fulani whose leaders have also continued to play the ostrich irrespective of whether these criminals are Nigerians or foreign mercenaries. Fact is that Nigeria is under Fulani Herdsmen siege.
All credit or blame for this, depending on your side of the political divide, goes to President Buhari who has shown in every ramification to be a true patriot of the Fulani hegemony. But what Nigeria needs and is desperately searching for and has not found is a true national patriot in the presidential saddle whose stay at Aso Rock will deconstruct all the ethnic jingoists. For now, we have ethnic champions all over masquerading as nationalists.
God, please, help us find a president who puts Nigeria first.