By Emma Amaize, Clifford Ndujihe, Dapo Akinrefon, Charles Kumolu, Dennis Agbo & Olayinka Ajayi
LAGOS—SOME northern leaders, yesterday, gave former President Olusegun Obasanjo hard knocks over his comments that the Boko Haram insurgency was no longer about lack of jobs for youths but a full blown ‘Fulanisation’ of West Africa, Islamisation of Africa and global organised crimes.
Giving the keynote address at the 2019 Synod of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, held in Oleh, Isoko South Local Council of Delta State, weekend, Obasanjo said: ‘’It is no longer an issue of lack of education and lack of employment for our youths in Nigeria, which it began as, it is now West African Fulanisation, African Islamisation and global organised crimes of human trafficking, money laundering, drug trafficking, illegal mining and regime change.’’
The former president’s comments elicited harsh criticisms from northern leaders such as former Governor of Jigawa State, Malam Sule Lamido; Second Republic lawmaker, Dr Junaid Mohammed; and Second Republic Governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa.
However, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere; apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo; the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF; former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode; and former Political Adviser to the President, Mr. Akin Osuntokun, said Obasanjo was rigth.
You’re a statesman, don’t be a bigot, Lamido replies Obasanjo
Reacting to the comments, Sule Lamido advised Obasanjo not to allow his disappointment with the current administration to turn him to a religious and ethnic bigot and urged him to withdraw the statement credited to him that Boko Haram has an agenda of ‘Fulanization and Islamization’ of West Africa.
Lamido, a political ally of Obasanjo, stated this in a press statement by his media aide, Mansur Ahmad.
Former President Obasanjo had also said that “the twin evils of Boko Haram and marauding cattle herders were initially treated with kid gloves.’’
Averring that Obasanjo’s statement was improper for a nationalist and should not have come from the former president, Lamido said: “If it were said at a non-religious venue to a non-religious audience, may be; it might have been more tolerable.
“Please sir, don’t let your disappointment with sitting presidents turn you into a bigot. You must not abandon the national stage. The cracks along the various divides in our National cohesion are already turning into huge gorges.”Lamido doesn’t understand what bigot means – Afenifere
Picking holes in Lamido’s statement, Afenifere said the former governor does not understand what bigot means, adding that Obasanjo was right.
Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said: “Does he understand the meaning of the word bigot? What is Boko Haram doing different from what Obasanjo painted? Nigeria is currently the third most terrorised country globally after Iraq and Afghanistan. If he has briefings from Boko Haram on their agenda other than what Obasanjo said, he should share such with a traumatised country. If he failed to do so, he is just being insensitive.”
Lamido should tell us if he now speaks for Boko Haram – Osuntokun
Also lampooning Lamido, Mr. Akin Osuntokun, a former Political Adviser to former President Obasanjo, said: “If the only aspect of the publication he read was limited to the sensational headlines, then he has a point. If, however, he took his time and settled down to read the entirety of the report I doubt he will reach the same conclusion.
“Obasanjo addressed himself to the activities of Boko Haram and if Lamido has a different understanding of the mission of the terrorists he should educate us on such. He should also let us know if he now speaks for Boko Haram, otherwise it is difficult to understand the platform he stands to play the lead advocate of an organisation ranked the third most deadly terrorist group in the world.”
Obasanjo is being mischievous – Balarabe Musa
Peeved by the former president’s statement, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, who noted that Obasanjo is well informed about Boko haram insurgency than any average Nigerian, said: “Obasanjo is being mischievous because he knows about Boko haram more than average Nigerians. There is nothing to show that the insurgent group wants to Islamise Nigeria. Why should he say such thing now? So, he is wrong and a confusionist.”
Obasanjo wants to set Nigeria on fire – Junaid Mohammed
In like manner, Dr. Junaid Mohammed said: “I have no choice but to condemn his language, the circumstances and the choice of place for such a statement. I believe a person, who was a President should be very cautious about the kind of language to use when addressing vital national issues. What Obasanjo said was a lie. His intention is to set this country on fire. Any time Obasanjo looked for something and he didn’t get it, he used abusive language to reduce what he looked for. He wants to play one section of the country against the other. The people being killed are mainly Muslims in the North and they are people who have nothing to do with the contentious issues in the country.
“Every Nigerian leader should be blamed for the mess we found ourselves in. We must blame in totality, the so called political class, who have not handled the economy and politics well. They have been very divisive in their ways. But for Obasanjo to say that some people are trying to islamise anyone is wrong. I am one of those, who come from a family that does not go out to convert anyone. ‘’Clearly, Obasanjo is lying and if Obasanjo abuses anyone, I will encourage the person to revenge. I recall that I and the late Dr. Bala Usman had gone to caution him not to get involved with the Sharia thing that was being introduced then. We told him to allow Muslims to handle it, insisting that if he got involved, a new dimension that would not serve the country well would be introduced. We even told the late Bola Ige to caution him against it.”
Obasanjo’s warnings should be taken seriously – Fani-Kayode
Berating Lamido, Fani-Kayode, in a statement, yesterday said: ‘’President Olusegun Obasanjo remains the only politically active southern and Middle Belt leader that understands what is really going on, the grave danger that we are in and what lies ahead. He is deeply courageous and his latest contribution that there is an agenda to Fulanise West Africa and Islamise Africa says it all.
‘’Obasanjo needs say no more. History and posterity will be kind to him for speaking the bitter truth and saying what almost every other southern and Middle Belt politician and leader knows to be true but is too timid and too scared to say publicly.
‘’With his latest contribution he has vindicated yours truly and many others. I saw this coming in late 2013 and I told the world. Nnamdi Kanu saw it coming in 2014 and he told the world. Asari Dokubo saw it in 2015 and he told the world.
‘’Afenifere, OPC, YOLICOM, PANDEM, MEND, the Middle Belt Forum, the Niger Delta Avengers, IPOB, MASSOB and Ohaeneze saw it in 2017 and they told the world. The National Christian Elders Forum, NCEF, CAN and the Church saw it in 2018 and they told the world.
‘’Sadly, the world refused to listen, left us on our own and, instead of rising to the occasion and confronting the evil, Nigerians went on bended knees to the powers that be and acted as if they were not saddled with a major problem that was bound to eventually consume them all. Now they know better even though most of them are still in denial.
‘’Now, they must live with the consequences of their indifference, ignorance, cowardice and stoicism. What a pity.
‘’ It is a tragedy of monumental proportions that a nation that is so blessed with extraordinary human and mineral resources should end up going this way.
‘’ I hear one or two people like Sule Lamido are not too happy with what OBJ said and have called him out for saying it. That is sad and unfortunate because Obasanjo has done more for the core north, Lamido’s Fulani tribe and Nigerian unity than any other former President or Head of State in our history. He also fought in a civil war to keep the country together.
‘’For anybody from the core north to call him names for speaking the truth and baring his mind over what is unfolding in Nigeria today tells you how blinded by power, insensitive and callous some of these people are.
‘’It is only those that subscribe to the Fulanisation and Islamisation agenda that will criticise or oppose Obasanjo’s observation and describe him as “a bigot” for making them. What OBJ said was timely and necessary and millions are commending him for it. He spoke the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
FG’s inability to brand Boko Haram terrorist group suggests hidden Agenda – Ohanaeze
On its part, the Ohanaeze agreed with Obasanjo that Boko Haram was out to islamise not only Nigeria but also other West Africa countries.
The Igbo parent body also said the federal government did not help matters in its refusal to brand both Boko Haram and Miyetti-Allah as terrorist groups, noting however that any further Islamic push against Christians in Nigeria may lead to break up of the country.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo made the remarks through the media Adviser to the President General of the group, Chief Emeka Attama, who noted that Miyetti-Allah was not on the same pedestal with other ethnic nationality groups as Afenifere or Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
Attama said: “When the Boko Haram started its activities, many Ngerians didn’t give it much thought but with its continued aggression, coupled with the refusal of the current leadership to brand it a terrorist organisation, it became highly suggestive of a hidden agenda.
“The intrusion of the dreaded ISIS and the seemingly half hearted response to Boko Haram by the Federal government makes it more so.
“Equating the murderous Miyetti Allah with Afenifere and Ohanaeze Ndigbo further brings out the insincerity of government.
“Yes, Christians in Nigeria have every reason to suspect an Islamic agenda. But that certainly will be the end of an entity known as Nigeria.”
Obasanjo’s view not far from the truth – PANDEF
Also, the PANDEF said former President Obasanjo’s views that Boko Haram and herdsmen have become tools for the Fulanization and Islamization of Nigeria were not far from the truth.
Speaking with Vanguard, National Secretary of the South South regional body, Dr Alfred Mulade said: “Looking at the matter critically, it is not far from the truth. We see herdsmen as they push to the South attacking, sacking and taking over communities from people.”
“Clearly, herdsmen movement is part of the Islamization process, that is why people are apprehensive, it is not about trespassing people’s land, they are dispossessing people of their territories with arms and occupying them.
“It is from occupying the places where they chased out the original owners that they start Islamization. In Delta State, herdsmen are sacking communities and stopping farmers from going to their farms.
“I can tell you that it is not a matter of selling cows or business that they are doing. They have a different mission. Last time, they kidnapped the former Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief Olu Falae, in Ondo state and that is how they are kidnapping in other states,” invoking fear in people in preparation for Islamisation of the country”, he said.
Dr Mulade observed: “It was in the news recently that police captured some Boko Haram infiltrators in Edo state. So they are spreading their tentacles, they are already in control of certain communities in Delta State for instance, where they often launch attack villagers, kidnap people for ransom and rape women.’’
He called for investigation of the herdsmen and Boko Haram forays into to the southern part of the country, saying, “The Fulanization and Islamization thing is a systematic affair, they know what they are doing and before you know, they will overrun states and take over the country.”
Obasanjo now a talking drum—Tsav
A retired Police Commissioner, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav said: “The man has become a talking drum. How can that be possible when the attacks are concentrated in the north? They are attacking Muslims and sometimes churches. I think age is affecting his thinking faculty.”