By Yinka Odumakin
SOME of our supposed compatriots of Fulani extraction have been taunting Yoruba to war of late thinking that the people are a senseless group who will fight as a first resort without choosing their battles and weigh the cost of a war.
We have not forgotten so soon that when Nigeria had a misadventure of a civil war the heroes of that war were Benjamin Adekunle, Olusegun Obasanjo, Alani Akinrinade, Alabi Isama and others from Yoruba land. At the same time, some of their compatriots from Arewa land led troops which perished in the rivers as they had no war plan but followed the instructions of marabouts.
This elementary lesson was lost on scholarship-challenged Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF. Following the recent arrogant safari in Ondo that went awry, its response was to threaten those who saved them from the mess they created with the imagery of that error of a war as if that coalition has not collapsed forever. If that mistake is repeated today there would be wars on many fronts and those who are not capable of formulating war plans will have no competent commanders to hide behind.
And so it was when General Sani Abacha came and wanted a war with the Yoruba over June 12, the Yoruba gave him a war. It was not the senseless one he wanted, but the one they chose which he could not fight.
He has become a distant history and we are still harvesting the war chest he succeeded in amassing. Yet some of his followers said he didn’t steal as their understanding was that he was only piling up the resources from the Southern part of Nigeria in different parts of the world to fight the Yoruba.
The Fulani Jihad led by Sheik Usman Dan Fodio that began in 1804 in Sokoto, and spread gradually to put Hausa land under the domination of Fulani and moved down South of the River Niger had serious effects on virtually the whole of modern Nigeria.
Ilorin and environs, which were on the northern fringe of Oyo Empire, was sacked by Fulani elements domiciled in that town in 1823 and it, therefore, became a satellite of the Sokoto caliphate and a base from where the Jihadists attempted to penetrate, overpower and Islamise Yoruba land.
The Osogbo war of 1840 showed that the Yoruba use traditional technology to prosecute wars and not just fighting only like beasts of the fields. A brand of banana was planted during that war which bore fruits same day and Fulani soldiers ate and died upon consumption. In the 1983 electoral war in Ondo State eggs were used as bombs on the Electoral Commission building as recorded by Dare Babarinsa in “House of War”.
Fulani elements from Ilorin were repelled by combined Yoruba forces with great inputs from Ibadan warriors, drawn from all supporting towns of Oyo, in line with defence arrangement perfected by Yoruba leaders led by Alaafin Atiba, at the new capital, Agodoyo around 1837.
For example, Oyo Empire can not be said to have collapsed before 1893, in line with British conquest of Sokoto in 1903 and Benin in 1897, etc. What really happened was that the empire declined and its power waned. Research has shown that after the victory of Ilorin over Yoruba forces during the Eleduwe war of 1835, Emir Shitta sent Ilorin forces to sack Oyo Ile and loot the palace. Consequent upon the attack, Oyo Ile was deserted and has been in ruins ever since. Logically, Oyo empire would have fallen if the Fulani had been able to overrun the whole of the empire as she did to Ilorin and Hausaland.
Besides, all Yoruba towns sent their forces to fight along Ibadan during wars such as Osogbo, Jalumi, Ofa, Kiriji, etc. That was the practice at Oyo Ile and this they maintained until 1893. Equally, it was Adeyemi 1 that the warrior reported to after the wars and his quota of the war booty was sent to him as the sovereign.
Vividly, like in Oyo Ile, there were over-ambitious functionaries of government in the mould of Basorun Gaa, Edun of Gbogun and Afonja of Ilorin, etc., who usurped the power of the Alaafin and insubordinated to him like Ogunmola, Latosisa, et al.
The Oyo Ile survived and Alaafin Adeyemi 1 played a significant role until the signing of the protectorate with the British in 1893. The Yoruba mastered all skills, including warfare, and protected their territories at all times knowing when to fight and using diplomacy when it was expedient to do so.
Hardly could you see them provoking war on another man’s territory. But Garba Shehu insists that the Fulani have rights to Ondo forest reserves, arguing that they are Nigerians who have right to move around when it is only animals we know that settle in forests as natural habitats.
If Yoruba are senseless warriors, the events in Ondo would have been pushed them to exchange of gunshots and the case would have been clear on their side as Nigeria would have had to explain what it did when herdsmen killed Mrs. Funke Olakunrin, Olufon of Ifon and FUTA Deputy Registrar.
I shook my head vigorously as I watched Chief Olu Falae recalling how herders told his farm manager that the maize he plants is like rice for their cows which they cannot ignore. Only God knows what would have happened if some Yoruba boys had gone on retaliatory mission to kidnap Adamu Ciroma the way Fulani boys did to Chief Falae.
The Yale graduate debunked the whole nonsense of Fulani profiling as he said they are different from other Nigerians and are easily identifiable by their victims when they commit crimes.
The unlearned fellows may not easily know what Sunday Igboho means in Yoruba history. It is the righteous indignation of a people who ordinarily would not provoke another man. Yoruba would be full of apologies and explanations if a percent of the atrocities the Fulani are committing all over Nigeria are attributable to their boys and not boasting with impunity just like the Fulani are doing.
All they have seen from Igboho that is making them to wee in their pants is just a little of what Yoruba are capable of doing when they are pushed to the point of saying enough-is-enough. They would be on a firm ground because they have a case to back their action. The people of Ibarapa and other areas have stated why Sunday is standing up in the quintessential Yoruba spirit.
Re: The last days of Nigeria?
WHEN Fulani herdsmen sneaked into Yoruba land years ago they looked harmless, simple and friendly like a week-old snake. Now, they have grown to become a big python swallowing fowls, dogs and goats.
Very soon they will outgrow that to become an anaconda swallowing men and cattle. No one would have imagined this menace 30 years ago. With the present trend of things, one can imagine the level of problems the next generation (our children and grandchildren) will face from these herdsmen. This battle should be fought squarely now.
Please no negotiation should be acceptable now. They are coming in their hundreds on a daily basis, colonising our forests and claiming them as their territories. They must leave or we live apart.
- Adefisan Stephen