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Descent into the abyss

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Chioma Gabriel

Former President Obasanjo is a man of words. You can hate him if you like but you cannot ignore him. What an elder sees while lying down, a child or a youth cannot see it even if he’s standing on top of an iroko tree.

A man like Obasanjo is not diplomatic by any means. He says it as he feels it and whether you like it or not, as a former head of state and president, he has access to a level of intelligence.

He generated so much furore when he alleged that President Buhari has Fulanisation and Islamisation agenda. Many people hauled soar grapes at him. Some called him ‘agbaya buruku’ and all manner of names; even the security agencies visited him in a bit to intimidate him or find out what he knows.

At his age, Obasanjo has lived a good life. He has lived many peoples dreams and imaginations. He has become what many could only harbour in their thoughts or imagine in their imaginations. He is not looking for any government appointment because he has been everything any man would ever want to be in his lifetime and he has longevity on his side.

At this stage in his life, whatever Obasanjo decides to say, he is not saying it for himself. He is only creating awareness so people should be careful.

He might not be completely right about Buhari having an Islamisation or Fulanisation agenda. But when you look around you in Nigeria today, what do you see? Just pause from whatever you are doing. Look around you. Listen to what is happening in everyday life and on your own, ask yourself some questions. Was Obasanjo right or wrong? Was there an element of truth in what he alleged on Fulanisation? Even if nothing has anything to do directly with Buhari, what do you think is happening in Nigeria.

Kidnappers have overrun everywhere in Nigeria: from North to south; from east to west; herdsmen who are mostly Fulani are holding sway: kidnapping, killing, destroying farm produce, speaking with impunity on issues belabouring Nigeria.

The worst is, instead of calling a spade a spade, we call it farmers’/herders’ clash when in truth, we know that is not what it is. Has any farmer gone out of his way to chase after herdsmen? It is always the farmer protecting himself and his farm from the wickedness of destructive herdsmen and then, someone would wake up and call it farmers’/herders’ clash.

That is not what it is and the problem can never be solved except we address the problem and call it what it is?

The issue is getting worse by the day. These herdsmen are no longer chasing farmers. They are chasing other people who have no farms. What do we call that one now? Peoples’/herders’ clash? One cannot even stay in his village and sleep because these herdsmen are everywhere destroying lives and property. If you are living in the city, you are stuck there because you cannot travel on the highways to visit your village or relations in other places. Reason being that herdsmen kidnappers have left their business of pastoring herds to veer into kidnapping innocent people who are minding their business.The public have been warned to avoid travelling on certain highways because of the activities of kidnappers, believed to be herdsmen.

Just recently, a big man had to call a chopper to rescue him from the danger on Benin/Ore Road.

Many Nigerians who visited home from abroad have fallen victims with many vowing never to return to Nigeria again because of the horror they faced and the trauma they suffered after the experience.

Now, these kidnappers would block the highways, kidnap travelers and take them into the bush, abuse them physically and sexually, extort ransoms from their relatives, and even kill those whose relatives did not quickly pay any ransom or those who did not pay something substantial.

Just recently, 28 travellers were reportedly abducted along Ikere-Ekiti/Akure road. The travellers were minding their business when some idiotic elements who do not have any value for life waylaid them and kidnapped them.Everywhere you look, herdsmen are perpetrating evil.

For how long will this continue? Nigeria looks like an accident waiting to happen with these criminal elements overwhelming the system and nothing much being done to contain them.

Many of these cases were never reported and where they were, they sometimes felt like fairy tales or exaggerated stories meant to scare people or to further a political, ethnic, religious agenda.

It would be painful to demonise any tribe for any particular wrongdoing especially when you have very good friends who have touched your life positively coming from that tribe.

It is also not impossible that some political elements could be tried to demonise and stereotype the Fulani ethnic group to get back at President Muhammadu Buhari, who is also a Fulani.

And like Vice President Osinbajo said recently, some people might also have exaggerated the insecurity problem in the country. Some might have fabricated stories of insecurity to create a narrative that the President was failing in his duties. There’s also the possibility that some people who live outside Nigeria exaggerated the issue of insecurity in the country based on foreign reportage of what is happening in Nigeria.

Whatever you feel, just look around you, what about the people you know who have encountered bitter experiences on our highways due to these kidnappers? This is one thing one cannot wish anybody even an enemy.

When I was told a relation of mine, Peter Ilojianya was killed in his farm somewhere in Enugu State, I took with a pinch of salt until the programme for his burial was published. Police investigation revealed nothing. His 93-year-old mother cursed those that did it and their entire lineage.

It is somehow strange that people from other climes will invade forests in a region, kidnapping the people. Other criminals take advantage of the situation, kidnap and disappear into unidentified houses. It is however more painful when kidnappers of Fulani extraction will invade forests in the south west, south east to abduct people on highways and lead them into the forest where they keep them until a ransom is paid. It has been alleged that these kidnappers have built hundreds of cells in each region where they perptrate their evil acts.

Now, talking about Fulanisation; why would the federal government in the face of these allegations and counter-allegations decide to establish Ruga settlements across the 36 States of the federation and against the peoples wish? Is the president trying to confirm Obasanjo’s claims or what?

If the Federal Government said that in the next five years, the establishment of Ruga settlements in the country would stop open grazing by herdsmen and end herdsmen-farmers’ clashes across the country, what does that mean?

Is herdsmen grazing a federal government business? Do we even listen to ourselves when we say these things?

You just map out 12 states and allow herdsmen to stay in specific areas, where they could graze their animals.

But now when some state governors have rejected the Ruga settlements, saying they would not give out their land for herdsmen’s settlements in their states, will the federal government force these settlements on them? From cattle colonies for herdsmen to Ruga settlements and herdsmen trying to become vigilantes in some states. This is a joke taken too far.

If this is not Fulanisation, then, what is it? If you ask me, I would say these criminal herdsmen are not human beings. They are worse than animals. They don’t value human lives. Indeed, southerners should help themselves, search all the bushes, flush them out and chase them away.

That is the only solution to this problem.




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