By Femi Aribisala
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari cares for his people. But although he is president of Nigeria, his people are not the people of Nigeria. His people are the Fulanis in particular, and Northern Nigerians in general. That is the token of a “good politician.” A good politician promotes the interests of his people.
But what happens to members of the president’s party who are neither Fulani nor Northern Nigerians? Can they also care for their people as the president does for his, and at the same time be in alliance with Mr. President?
The evidence suggests they cannot and do not. They have watched in silence, without complaining, as the president filled major posts with his own people and ignored theirs. They have “siddon looked” as the entire security architecture of Nigeria was placed virtually exclusively in the hands of Northerners.
They said nothing when the president illegally appointed his sister’s in-law, Amina Zakari, as acting chairman of INEC, flouting statutory regulations and without the required approval of the National Council of State.
Cat caught their tongue when the president illegally appointed Ahmed Lawan Kuru as the managing director of Asset Management Company of Nigeria, AMCON, and named its executive directors without requisite Senate confirmation. They were missing in action when he removed illegally Nigeria’s Southern Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and replaced him with a Northerner.
Men like Bola Tinubu who were loud in calling for the restructuring the Nigerian polity, which is one of the cardinal demands of South, dropped their demand like a hot potato once they entered into an alliance with Buhari. In APC, they are now required to implement programmes and policies whose primary objective is to benefit the agenda of the president’s people.
Rotimi Amaechi pitched the idea of building a University of Transportation in Nigeria. He believes, in his own words, that “charity begins at home”. Nevertheless, he claims in this case that his charity “must begin abroad”. The reason is that he is a member of the APC. Therefore, the proposed university has to be based in Daura, President Buhari’s hometown in Katsina State.
This is what happens when you join Buhari’s APC. You deny your interests and rationalise that of Mr. President. Buhari is a former military general, and once a general, you are always a general. In the army, foot-soldiers have no interest. They are required to sacrifice themselves for the general. They do the general’s bidding, no questions asked, even at the cost of their life. In effect, Southern politicians in the APC are conscripted to promote the president’s Northern agenda. This makes them, in effect, traitors to their own people.
Betrayal of the Yorubas
This is the predicament of Yoruba APC leaders. They are politicians, but in bed with a military president with a Northern agenda. In order to ingratiate themselves to the president, they are forced to be ambassadors of his many chauvinistically Northern schemes. If you are a Yoruba man, once you join APC, you lose your voice. Otherwise, why has Bola Tinubu said nothing publicly about Fulani herdsmen killing Yoruba farmers in their farms? Why has Vice-president Yemi Osinbajo kept mum on the rape and plunder of his kith and kin by the Fulani militia? Why has he not resigned in protest?
On the contrary, their silence has been bought. Their silence is the price they have had to pay for being in the APC and for collecting scraps from the master’s table. Things have now come home to the roost. The marauding herders have shifted their raping, kidnapping and pogroms from the Middle Belt progressively southward. They are now attacking people in Ogun, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo states. What are the Yoruba allies of Buhari going to do or say about this?
The first bombshell came from Femi Adesina, the president’s Yoruba special adviser on media and publicity. Adesina’s self-serving advice is that, rather than resist and be killed, Nigerians should surrender their ancestral homelands to the Fulanis. “Ancestral attachment?” he asked. You can only have ancestral attachment when you are alive. If you are talking about ancestral attachment, if you are dead, how does the attachment matter?”
Hogwash of Bola Tinubu
But Femi Adeshina is a small fry. What about Bola Tinubu, the so-called leader of the APC. Tinubu has also dodged the issue. He went with a fake Afenifere group to congratulate Buhari on his famous re-election. However, he could not broach the issue of insecurity in the Southwest frontally. Instead, he suggested that the president should endeavor to base police recruitment according to the 774 local government areas of the country.
He said: “The essence of the meeting is to thank the President, congratulate him on the election and the first step on the security of the country to really see a way out to stem any hate speech; intolerance across the nation and look at the problem of security holistically and from the grassroots level; including the fact there is a shortage of police personnel.”
Wow! So the insecurity problem is as a result of hate speech. What nonsense! The truth is that Bola Tinubu was not honest. He cannot tell the president the truth. Listen to this putative Yoruba leader. He implies that the menace of Fulani herdsmen in the Southwest (since he came with only Southwest representatives) is caused by intolerance and hate speech.
Who, we may well ask the APC leader, is intolerant? Obviously, Tinubu is not talking about the herdsmen. After all, they are the ones violating other people’s rights, so they can hardly be classified as tolerant. The only people that could be said to be intolerant are those whose land and property they are violating.
So, appearing before a Fulani president, Tinubu cannot present a case about the pillaging and killings of his people by Fulani herdsmen. Instead, he implies that those whose land they violate, and who they kidnap, rape and murder, are intolerant.
Prescription of a genius
What is the Jagaban’s solution to this problem? Instead of insisting that the president needs to get proactive by arresting these murderers and by defending those they attack, he comes up with a vague namby-pamby suggestion. He says the president needs to take “a holistic approach” to the problem and address it from “a grassroots level.”
This is just vain platitudes. What exactly does he mean about addressing the security problem holistically from a grassroots level? What rubbish!
Tinubu then implied that the answer to the problem of murderous Fulani herdsmen was because of some inadequacy in police recruitment. How does Tinubu propose to address this? Hear him: “There is the need to look at the recruitment from 774 local governments and be able to effectively have information; it takes time to train people; you equally create employment from such an action; I mean employment for the people and strengthen security intelligence from the grassroots.”
This is a load of malarkey. How can recruitment according to the country’s 774 local governments address the issue? Tinubu is coming from Lagos, although he is not really from Lagos. Lagos is a megacity with over 20 million people. But it has only 20 local government areas. Kano has double that at 44. Even Jigawa has more than Lagos: 27.
When Tinubu was Governor of Lagos State, he had an epic fight with Obasanjo, a Yoruba president, over this very issue of a lopsided local government system. His position then was that the local government structure was inadequate. But now confronted with a Fulani president, Tinubu becomes a traitor to himself. He now presents police recruitment according to this allegedly inadequate structure as the panacea for the continued slaughter of his people by Fulani herdsmen within the framework of a Fulani presidency.
The simple conclusion here is that Tinubu has abandoned his people. Bola Tinubu has sold out his people for the sake of ingratiating himself to President Buhari, whose support he probably requires for a futile future run for the presidency. Clearly, Tinubu can no longer be trusted to speak for the Yorubas in Nigeria. When he speaks today, he is only speaking for himself.
Tinubu wants to have his cake and eat it, but this cannot wash. The problem of murderous herdsmen has reached crisis proportions in the Southwest. He is a member of APC, the ruling party that can put a stop to this but refuses to do so. He has to be seen to be doing something about this even though he cannot; for self-interested reasons.
So what does Tinubu do? He goes to see the president with a collection of fake Yoruba leaders who call themselves Afenifere but are not. We know who the real Afenifere are. They are led by Pa Reuben Fasoranti. Their spokesman is Yinka Odumakin. The real Afenifere has already concluded that Tinubu is not serving the interest of Yoruba.
When Tinubu gets to the president, he is unable to tell him the truth about the security situation in the Southwest or to offer any serious suggestions about the need to address them. All he went there for was just a photo-up. But nobody should be fooled by this.
The real Afenifere has also identified Vice-president Yemi Osinbajo as a sell-out. In a communiqué, signed by its leaders, they said: “Osinbajo is hanging on the Fulani to work against Yoruba interest. When our people are getting killed in their farms by Fulani herdsmen Osinbajo did not say anything.”
On his recent visit to the United States, Osinbajo downplayed the incidence of the marauding herdsmen, because he dared not admit the truth. He said: “With respect to general kidnapping which we have seen in parts of the country, again, this is not entirely new. In fact, some of the kidnapping stories you read or listen to are simply not true anyway, some are fueled by politics.”
Replied the Afenifere: “(We are scandalized) by the opportunistic and provocative utterances of Vice-president Yemi Osinbajo in NewYork dismissing the danger we are faced in Yorubaland as well as by other zones in Nigeria as being ‘politically motivated.’”
In effect, Yoruba politicians in the APC are on the horns of a dilemma. How can they continue to be members of a party and government that practically turns a blind eye to the kidnapping, raping, maiming and killing of their people? Is the trade-off of declaring June 12 as Democracy Day sufficient for them to acquiesce in forfeiting part of their homeland to Fulani herdsmen?
Make no mistake about it. Bola Tinubu, Yemi Osinbajo and other APC opportunists can no longer speak for the Yorubas in Nigeria.