By Yinka Odumakin
MY good brother Otoks Princewill was lost as to why many of our fellow Nigerians from the far North have taken sides with cows as against humans whose lives are being wasted in Southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt since Fulani hackmen unleashed a reign of terror on their host communities in a frightening dimension especially in the last one year. From Falae’s farm in Akure, through Agatu down to Enugu and many more communities it had been what Fela Anikulapo-Kuti called “sorrow, tears and blood.”
I asked Otoks that in all the years he has been reading newspapers in Nigeria, he should tell me the number of “In Memoriam” he has seen in print from the far North people . That the number he can come up with would tell him how different sections of the country see human life.While a section places so much premium on human life and would still remember their loved ones 50 years after they are gone ,another sees a dead man no more than a piece of trash to be wrapped and thrown under the earth without much rite of passage.
It is like the case of an elder in a church who quarreled with his wife over toothpaste before leaving for service.When church service was over, a fellow elder asked after his wife and in frustration he responded “she is there, always quarreling over everything and behaving like a child”.
The other man was of fuller understanding and told him “Elder John,women don’t behave like children but rather they behave like women.The problem is with we men who want women to behave like men.”
All citizens of Nigeria who belong to the civilisation that puts premium on human lives were shocked at the horrific images coming out of Enugu after the recent killings that took place there.There was the gory picture of a young 19-year old lady who was said to be on holiday from Canada who was hacked to death. I recall Emmanuel Ibeshi, the founding National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who called me after the picture went viral. He eas badly shaken from the the tone of his voice and I could ‘see’ tears flowing down his cheeks even though we’re not communicating via video calls. I found it difficult to eat meat throughout that day.
Then the news came that the 19 northern governors were going to hold an emergency meeting. They met and issued a communique that read more like the resolutions of Meyatti Allah Cattle Breeders Association . Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) and Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, said it was an insult to consider criminals as Fulani. Shettima said: “We want to unequivocally condemn the recent killings in Enugu and other parts of the country. But we equally condemn the politicisation or permit me, the ‘ethinicisation’ of the whole crisis. It goes beyond Fulani. If anything happens, they say Fulani herdsmen; to me it is an insult.
“Kidnapping in this country originated in the South-east, were they called Igbo kidnappers?”
Heresy.When the militants in the Niger Delta ravaged the pipelines we called them Niger Delta Miltants.If traders from South East decide to misbehave in Kano would they be called any other thing than Igbo traders?If farmers from Oyo behave the way the cattle breeders are behaving in any part of the country what would be wrong in saying Yoruba farmers?
As if the comments of the Northern governors was not annoying enough their Senators also decided to pour some gasoline into a burning cauldron . After their meeting in Abuja they promised to review the existing laws and make new ones to protect the interest of the north in particular and Nigeria in general.They also said there would be no country called Nigeria, if other parts of the country asked Fulani herdsmen to leave their communities and states. Reading a communique issued at the end of the meeting to journalists, Chairman, Northern Senators’ Forum, Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC, Nasarawa West) said “We appreciate the steps the Federal Government had taken so far to contain the problems of herdsmen/farmers clashes and call on community leaders to be careful when making statements on these ugly incidences.”
Asked whether the forum’s call on community leaders to be mindful of what they say was also applicable to governors of respective states, Senator Adamu said: “It is for all Nigerians. A governor is a community leader. The only difference is that he has a label called governor. If you don’t mind, in recent times, it started with the West when elder statesman, Chief Olu Falae, had some very nasty experience. It was attributed at the time to Fulani herdsmen. At the end, those people were apprehended and they were not Fulanis. This thing has been going on in virtually all parts of the country today. If we now say that everybody should rise and say herdsmen should leave, we will not have a country.”
Of course these grown-ups were lying through their teeth. Chief Olu Falae identified his kidnappers and they were Fulani. They are currently in court. Baba Othman Ngezarlma, the Secretary of Meyatti Allah Cattle Breeders Association while speaking on Channels Television admitted that the Fulani herdsmen carry AK-47. “That is one issue I would like to correct. If you see a Fulani man handling AK-47, that is because cattle rustling has become so much that one wonders if there is security in the country. With the coming of this administration, we are seeing a lot of improvement. No peace-loving Fulani man would be carrying AK-47 and moving about.”
Now who is issuing licenses to these Fulani herdsmen to weed Ak-47?I recall in our days as children how we used to see Fulani herdsmen going about with cattle and all they had were sticks. We used to run after them making fun with expression like “the husband of Sikira with horns, the wife is wearing sandals and the husband is bare footed”. The worst they ever did was chasing us with their sticks. What does AK-47 has to do with cattle rearing if some other agenda is not in the mix?
He also betrayed the mindset that gave the Fulani herdsmen the gut to trample over people’s land “What we discovered was that when they go to graze in the forest, an area that doesn’t belong to anybody, people would come and demand money from them before they can graze. And even after settling, another group would come and demand for money again and, if they refuse to pay, they shoot the cows.”
All these shenanigans would not be new to anybody who was a delegate to the 2014 National Conference. One issue that almost brought that conference to an end was the issue of grazing routes for herdsmen.The Fulani people at the conference argued as if cows were citizens of Federal Republic of Nigeria. They didn’t show the kind of interest they displayed over the issue of cows when matters concerning Almajiris or the rights of women came up for discussion. After several meetings, committee sessions and trouble shootings that conference resolved on establishment of ranches for cattle breeding in states that want them.
The implementation of that report will resolve the menace of the hackmen which today poses the greatest threat to the corporate existence of the country.
And this is the imperative of functional federalism. Like men who want women to behave like men are those who want the Fulani herdsmen to put value on human lives more than their cow.I am definitely not asking for such.
Transporting cattle in vehicles
All I am asking is that there should be ranches in their areas and transport their cattle in vehicles to designated points where buyers can meet them. Argentina is the largest supplier of corn beef in the world today but they don’t come and graze cattle on BRT lane in Lagos or in front of the Central Bank of Nigeria. If Nigeria were to have borders with the United Kingdom or the USA, I don’t think our Fulani herdsmen would go and graze cattle on Bristol or around the Capitol.
And if the owners of these cows who are the big men love their people ,would they ask to be trekking from Kano to Enugu when they could stay in ranches? What nutrition is left in a cow that has trekked all that distance?
Nigeria is under stress today because we want a melting pot “though tribes and tongues differ”. It is not going to work. We need a federal constitution in deed that would allow each group to develop according to its civilisation so we can live in peace.I want to remain in the same country with Col. Dangiwa Umar,though he is Fulani. Let the terms be right !
All hail Fasoranti @ 90
THE Akure home of the Leader of Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti will play host to guests tomorrow (May11,2016) as the jolly good old man turns 90. His family, friends and associates will cling glasses to toast to the taciturn but steely grand old man for achieving a rare feat in a clime where life expectancy is 53.7 years for male.
Pa Fasoranti has seen a great deal of sunny side of life with a few low moments here and there but God has been very gracious to him.
A great disciplinarian and the typical teacher of old, he has led a disciplined life based on the sound values of the ancient landmarks set by the fathers.
He was the Commissioner for Finance in Ondo state in the days the great Pa Adekunle Ajasin held sway as Ondo state Governor. He discharged his duty creditably.
The renowned teacher has taught so many pupils who had gone on to be very great in life among whom were the late Cicero,Chief Bola Ige and Prof. Akin Mabogunje who were his students at the Ibadan Grammar school .
His political family in Afenifere will honour him on May 28 in Akure as one of his Comrades in the UPN days, Prof. Banji Akintoye would be speaking at The Dome Akure on “The Welfare Ideology and The Future of Yoruba Nation” under the distinguished chairmanship of Prof. Ladipo Adamolekun and Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo state as Chief Host. Happy birthday,Papa!