‘Even when other criminals strike, it is Fulani herdsmen. It is stereotyping. It is finger-pointing which is not based on facts. I am not saying that there are no challenges about Fulani herdsmen due to climate change, dwindling resources and things like that. Yes, we have those challenges. But it is not every criminality perpetrated in the country that is done by the Fulanis’ President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Mr. Femi Adesina has said
Adesina in an interview with an online newspaper also said that what former President Obasanjo said cannot be taken as the gospel truth any longer and cannot be taken as neutral saying ‘His opinion then cannot be taken as the gospel truth any longer.’
Below the interview in parts
“But then to now say the entire country has been taken over, to say that the government is failing, is political. Nigeria is still there, it is very solid. It will remain solid. It will remain one, and the challenges will be overcome.
“Government is not the only institution responsible for security. It is a collaborative thing between the government and the governed. Government at the federal level is not the only one responsible for security.
“But what do we find? You find some people, they will go and cause trouble at the local government (level), and they will be calling President Buhari, who is at the centre, to come and resolve it.
“You have government at the federal level; you have government at the state level. And you have government at the local level. All of them-federal, states, and local governments, must collaborate to end this security challenge. The people as well as the traditional institutions have their roles to play. It is a collaborative thing.”
On Herders/ farmers’ clashes
“The herdsmen/farmers’ clashes are causing security challenges. There are also political Fulani herdsmen; those ones have been created by hidden hostile hands who want to de-market the government.
“The Fulani issue is there but it is no way near what has been trumpeted, and what has been claimed. To some people in the media, there is no other criminality in the country except Fulani herdsmen.
“Even when other criminals strike, it is Fulani herdsmen. It is stereotyping. It is finger-pointing which is not based on facts. I am not saying that there are no challenges about Fulani herdsmen due to climate change, dwindling resources and things like that. Yes, we have those challenges. But it is not every criminality perpetrated in the country that is done by the Fulanis.
“We have always lived with Fulani herdsmen in this country. They drive their cattle from different parts. When the rains are here, you see them. They move southwest and they get forage for their cattle and all that. And when the rains go and the water recedes, you find them following the water as it recedes. In the process, they drive their herds into farmlands and it becomes an issue. There was a way that problem was settled in this country before.”
“The problem was there in the first republic, even in the second republic. But it was not as bad as we have it now because climate change has affected vegetation and the water table. Lake Chad, for instance, is ten percent of its former size. That has seriously affected grazing and availability of resources because the herdsmen follow the water. They follow where there is green grass to feed their animals.”
Buhari’s appointment not lopsided..
“No, the direction is clear. If some appointments have not been made, it does not indicate that you don’t know the direction. The direction in which this government is going is very clear. Direction is determined by policy. It is determined by pronouncements.
“It is determined by things you had done in the first term, which you are consolidating in the second term. It is not the appointment that has not been made that will determine the direction.
“One thing is to appoint the brightest and the best; another is to take care of the agitations against some members of the President’s first term team. Throughout that term, people were always complaining about lop-sidedness in appointments, about ethnicity, nepotism and stuffs like that.
“If you look at the entire gamut of appointments, it is not true that there was lopsidedness. It is not true. If you look at the totality of the appointments, you will see that there was a balance in the country.
“People just decided to believe there was lopsidedness because the security apparatus was like tilted more towards a particular section of the country; and security is not something you play politics with. Security is just where you use the brightest and the best.
“The president has explained many times that he made the security appointments based on the career records of the people. They were the best in the different services at that time; and he appointed them.”
“They will not always prevail.”
“I am sure eventually government will get to unveil who the hidden hostile hands are. They are both internal and external. Nigeria has possibly the most porous borders in the world. The borders in the north alone are about 1,500 kilometres.
“The entire border area in the country is about 4,500 kilometres. So, people can come in at will; from anywhere-Libya, Sudan, Burkina Faso, generally; and all these places are awash with small arms which they bring into the country. So, it is a problem.
”It remains a problem because we have not also tried to study and copy what bigger and better organized countries have done with their borders. There are countries that are three times bigger than Nigeria in terms of land mass, yet, they are well policed. Their borders are tightly controlled.”
Obasanjo’s opinion cannot be taken as the gospel truth
“Whatever former President Obasanjo says now cannot be taken as neutral. It cannot be taken as something from a disinterested party because he has a political position where he anchors everything he says. His opinion then cannot be taken as the gospel truth any longer.
“It can only be the opinion of one man and he has the right to that opinion.”
‘Buhari has made a “big difference” in addressing security challenges nationwide.
“No doubt, there are security challenges in the country, but are things better than 2015? Yes, things are better than 2015.
“In 2015, do you know how many bombs went off daily in this country? Yes, daily! And with scores dead in different parts of the country!
“It happened in the North-East; happened in the North-West; happened in the North-Central. Abuja, the federal capital, was not immune from it. But, that has largely been reduced.
“You hardly hear of those bombs going off again because the government has made a big difference. Now, we have challenges in other areas-kidnapping, armed banditry, armed robbery, and all that. Yes, there are challenges but government exists to solve challenges. And this government is doing its best to solve the challenges.”
“People also exaggerate things for political reasons. We are not saying those challenges are not there. Of course, they are there.”