I see Femi Fani-Kayode as a comrade of mine even though he has had occasion in the past to attack me. But I have moved on from that and I hope both FFK and Mark Zuckerberg have too.
What I want to remind Mr. Fani Kayode of today is the quote by the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan that “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”
You see Femi Fani-Kayode and I share a desire for a more progressive Nigeria with a level playing ground for all, where your tribe, religion and gender are not as important as your character and intellectual abilities and in fighting for this just and utopian society, we both have to guard from becoming like those we fight against.
Probably no one has written against killer Fulani herdsmen as I have. I have taken my advocacy to the US Congress, to the international media and to ranking evangelicals in America.
But what I will not do is lie, misrepresent or twist what anyone says in propagation of my beliefs and in defense of what I stand for, and I urge those who I would want to believe are my comrade to have similar scruples.
Indeed, I was shocked to my marrow upon waking up today(Saturday) and reading Mr. Fani-Kayode’s essay titled ‘The herdsmen are not Fulani, they are from the moon’.
In that essay, Mr. Fani-Kayode falsely quoted former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to have said “Labelling the attackers as Fulani is wrong. Fulani people are peaceful and live in harmony with other ethnicities. To call the killer herdsmen Fulani is a misnomer. They are just criminals and not Fulani criminals.”
The above quote is not only dishonest, it is wicked. Mr. Fani-Kayode hates to be misquoted and will usually respond with venom if anyone is unfortunate enough to have been caught misquoting him.
So why would a man so sensitive to being misquoted go ahead to misquote others?
For the avoidance of doubt, this is what former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar said to Saturday ThisDay on March 10, 2018:
“John F Kennedy said “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.”
I think our current set of leaders are too focused on the danger side of crisis and are not as focused on the opportunity side of it.
Turn this crisis to an opportunity. New challenges require new thinking. If I were to advise the Federal Government, I would counsel them to learn from Rico Gardo. Just as Nigeria has built government and privately owned Fertilizer plants, the government should build and encourage the private sector to build animal feeds factories.
Sell the feeds to the herdsmen and make money from them. The value chain this industry will create will generate jobs for Nigerians and revenue for the government. But most importantly, it will end these clashes.
I am not telling you of what I have heard. I am telling you of what I am doing. And what I am doing is working in the area where Rico Gardo is operational. My plan for the future is to expand nationwide.
HOWEVER, LET ME ALSO SAY THAT IT IS A MISNOMER TO USE THE TERM KILLER HERDSMEN OF FULANI EXTRACTION OF KILLER FULANI HERDSMEN. WHEN KIDNAPPERS KIDNAP, WE DO NOT IDENTIFY THEM BY THEIR ETHNICITY. WE IDENTIFY THEM AS KIDNAPPERS, PURE AND SIMPLE.
THE VAST MAJORITY OF FULANI PEOPLE ARE PEACEFUL AND LIVE IN HARMONY WITH OTHER ETHNICITIES. THERE MAY BE FRINGE ELEMENTS WITH CRIMINAL TENDENCIES. SOME MAY BE FULANI. SOME MAY NOT EVEN BE. LET US IDENTIFY THEM BY THEIR ACTIVITIES AND NOT BY THEIR ETHNICITY.”
The capitalized portion of the quote is what Mr. Fani-Kayode extrapolated, misquoted and twisted to serve his own ends.
But why would he do that? Honestly, I do not know. But what I know is that no matter how far and fast falsehood has traveled, it must eventually be overtaken by truth!
Let us examine the former Vice President’s logic. He has not said there are no herdsmen killing people. He has not said that they are not Fulani, though he is open to the possibility that some may not be Fulani, which is a fact.
In actually fact, most of those involved in these killings and clashes are Mbororo people also known as Bororo. I did a broadcast on this last year.
If the Mbororo speak their language, the Fufulde people (the real name for the Fulani tribe) cannot understand them. The Mbororo differ from the Fulani as the Tiv defer from the Igbo.
They have some affinity, but they are not exactly one and the same.
Recently, the police arrested a notorious kidnapper known as Evans. Evans was even discovered to have been a billionaire. He had kidnapped hundreds of people in his ‘career’ and had even allegedly created franchises were kidnapping syndicates kidnapped people using Evans’ modus operandi and paid tribute money to him.
Evans is the undisputed king of kidnappers. But then again, Evans and many of his franchisees were from a certain part of the country, but neither the media nor Femi Fani-Kayode described Evans as an Igbo kidnapper or a Yoruba kidnapper. He was just a kidnapper.
Boko Haram became the deadliest terror group in the world in 2014 according to the Global Terrorism Index. It has been established by multiple independent and unconnected sources that most Boko Haram fighters, including their founder, Mohammed Yusuf, and their current leader, Abubakar Shekau, are Kanuri from either Borno or Yobe, but we do not call them Kanuri terrorists. We call them terrorists pure and simple.
Like me, Femi Fani-Kayode believes in the God of The Bible Who taught us through His prophet that “My people are perish for lack of knowledge”-Hosea 4:6.
I do not want to engage in a war of words with Femi Fani-Kayode. My only motive for this piece is to draw his attention to his errors and hope that as a gentleman, he can admit that he has wronged Mr. Abubakar by misquoting him and apologize to him.
But whether or not he chooses to do that, my conscience is satisfied that I have played my part in the struggle to ensure that falsehood bows to truth. The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Let me end by saying any herdsman who kills innocent people is evil whether he is Fulani, Mbororo or otherwise. However, in fighting them, I must be careful not to become evil like them.
By Reno Omokri
Omokri is Number One Bestselling author of Facts Versus Fiction: The True Story of the Jonathan Years, Chibok, 2015 and the Conspiracies.