By Femi Fani-Kayode
Somebody asked me, what I felt about what’s going on in this country and how things will unfold. And whether I’m worried or not. The answer to the question is yes, I’m worried. And let me tell you what I believe is happening.
There are 4 major forces in this country today, I’ll call them 4 holes, 2 are in the S/West, one is in the East and the 4th is Buhari and he represents the North.
And the S/West, we have two holes, very powerful, aggressive, focused and very very committed holes. In the person of Gani Adams, who’s the Aare Ona Kakanfo and the other is Sunday Igboho, who by any standard is the hero of millions.
Exceptionally tough young man. Now these two forces, represent the heart, soul, mind and spirit of the Yoruba people. They cannot be stopped, they’re not politicians, they cannot be intimidated, they cannot be threatened, they’re extremely focused and both of them, if sufficiently provoked, the kind of mass following they have, their readiness to die for their cause, they’re extremely dangerous.
Thankfully, they’re good men and men that simply want a fair deal in a wider Nigeria, for our people. Also, men that are committed to the cause of Oduduwa Republic, once it is clear that there can be no fair deal in a wider Nigeria. They’re totally committed to that. In fact, they’re simply waiting for the integrationist to offer a better deal. Outside of that, they’re leaving and they decide to go. It will take a war to stop them, and they have the hearts of the people.
In the east, you have Nnamdi Kanu, I know him, exceptionally tough, very courageous and he has a massive following, absolutely massive. I call him the third one and personally call him the tiger of the east, an exceptionally tough young man and inspirational. And if there is to be an election in the east or Biafra tomorrow, he will win hands down.
He has the hearts, minds, and the soul of his people and he’s fighting for his people. Then you go up north. And before I go up to President Buhari, we go middle belt, the man who’s a good friend of mine, he was at Oxford, brilliant man Obadiah Melafia. Obediah is not a freedom fighter or such, he’s not a man that is committed to any form of violence but he’s a man of ideas and his ideas are explosive, extremely inspirational. He’s very focused, he’s a brilliant intellectual and his ideas and intellectual contributions are more powerful than bombs. Because he has ignited a sense of awareness in the people of the middle belt- the northern minorities, particularly the Christians. And he’s voicing their opinions and fighting in their corner more than anybody else in the history of the middle belt.
He’s extremely focused and he represents in my view the 4th hope. And it’s a very positive one, very strong, he represents hope for the people of the middle belt. Then, of course, you have President Buhari himself, who I believe is the 5th hope, so rather than 4, we have 5 holes. President Buhari and those that are with him, supporting him, are also very focused on doing what they’re doing. And some of them understand the situation and are ready to adapt, others are not. And that group collectively represents a very powerful force that cannot be underestimated. Within that camp, there are various groups I won’t go into that now, some are more liberal and moderate than others. But by and large, there are President Buhari’s loyalists. Now these 4, 5 holes, are the ones that hold the destiny of our country.
If they conflict and if they can be no compromise between them at any point in time, and if we do not agree on a formula, to avoid war in this country. If we cannot somehow assuage the feelings and persuade the Igbohos, Adamses and those behind them, to try to be a little bit more understanding about whats going on, try to reach out to them in peace and in love, try to build that bridge, it would be a very dangerous situation we are against, the same with Nnamdi Kanu.
And the same with the people that Obediah Melafia represents in the middle belt. And that’s all left to the forces that left the state. Buhari’s gotten, people.
Now what I’ve said so far may have lost most people because it’s really not for the less discerning and people that cannot think deeply. It’s very profound what I’ve said but they say a word is enough for the wise. The dumb may not understand it, simply because they’re not wise but the wise will understand what I’m saying and in a nutshell, what I’m saying is this, politicians may act and behave as if really nothing is happening and that things are in order and moving towards 2023. And they’re totally besotted and obsessed with who’ll become President tomorrow.
At least in a couple of years, but what they fail to appreciate is that in 2 years time, there may not be a Nigeria left. If things go on as they’re going now and I kid you not, I’m very close to many politicians in this country, I’ve been involved for many years and I have never seen this level of ethnic nationalism being expressed and exhibited among the Yoruba people and among the Ibo, and among the people of the middle belt as I have today.
In fact, it is so extreme that I’m sure it’s far more so than even just the civil war. And that’s what we’re dealing with. And people like Igboho, particularly and Adams and Nnamdi Kanu and Obediah Melafia and even Buhari himself have tapped into the power and the attraction of that ethnic nationalism, rightly so in my view.
It can be used in a positive way if it’s used properly if tapped into, there’s nothing wrong with that, but where these ethnic nationalities are on a collision course, particularly when it the Fulanis against the rest or when the rest are saying enough is enough or when the rest are saying that they’re tired and they’re fed up and when the rest are saying that they will not be intimidated or threatened by anybody even those that organize coercive arms of government and control the state. And when the rest are saying listen, if you consider us to be slaves, we’ll show you that we’re not slaves and you have people rising up in those areas, like the names I’ve mentioned, like the holes I’ve mentioned to say we will defend the honour and the future of our people.
And we’ll preserve the lives and honour of our people no matter what, this goes beyond politics. This is about national survival, it’s about the survival of our ethnic nationality and it’s about the unity of our country. So I would urge politicians and those who cannot think deeply to begin to think about what’s going on. We’re sitting on a keg of gunpowder and we’re acting as if nothings happening, we put our heads in the sand like an ostrich and we’re pretending that nothing has gone wrong. In the east today, people are being killed every day, being butchered by our security forces and of course unknown gunmen as they call them are also attacking not just civilians but members of our armed forces, members of our police and so on and so forth, which of course I do not support.
I think it is wrong, violence both ways is wrong and two wrongs do not make a right. So what’s going on it is unbelievable. In some cases, in some parts, policemen cannot even wear their uniforms now because they’re scared of being attacked and this is very sad, same in the south-south. In the southwest, you have massive militias being built up around two charismatic leaders who are prepared to go all the way if sufficiently provoked and if the state cannot guarantee the lives and properties of the Yoruba people.
And let me tell you, it is only because the elders of the southwest have been holding them back and chanting restructuring as a way out, that is why the west has been a little bit restrained, this will not last for much longer. The people there are fired and they want their own country and you can’t wish it to win. The middle belters have been completely suppressed, subjugated, oppressed, cheated and belittled for so many years now. Far more than any other groups in this country, they are also seeking emancipation, they also want a way out and that is ably reflected on the activities and words of a man like Obediah Melafia like I said earlier.
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And then, of course, you have the core north itself, represented by President Buhari and those that think like him. Not all are extreme, some are, some aren’t and thank those who are not so extreme are the ones we can reach out to and talk to but those that have no place in Nigeria anymore as far as I’m concerned and really ought to consider going back to Chad, Niger Republic, wherever they come from and resettle there. But as far as this country is concerned, whether you listen to me or not, you believe me or not and we’ll have this conversation again in about 3 years time and I’m sure you people will say yet again, FFK was right. But for now, the important thing is to recognize the challenges we’re facing, cause these ones to come together and negotiate, and discuss the way forward, because if we don’t do that, I assure you, there’ll be a conflict somewhere down the line. The state cannot suppress the will of the people of the S/west through arms, or do the same to people of the S/East.
They cannot kill everybody in the South-south, they cannot kill everybody in the middle belt and they cannot kill everybody among those in the core north who also want a change. What they can do is to establish the fact that it is important for us to sit down and talk as nationalists and see if there’s a way out of this and negotiate this thing to a point where everybody is comfortable whether through restructuring or whatever it is.
What we mustn’t do is continue to act as if we don’t need to talk to each other and act as if nothing will change, nothing will happen. Doesn’t matter how many people are killed, that the state can hold the line. The state cannot hold the line, in a conflict like this, it’s just a matter of time and the most important thing to recognize mostly is this, there are men of goodwill on all sides. We may disagree on Oduduwa, Biafra, Nigeria or even an amalgamation of the 4 zones.
The middle belt, South/south, S/East and S/west coming together under one country and the core north going a separate way or we have 5 or 6 different countries at the end of it all, or we even are an integrated Nigeria, which is restructuring and we continue as one. It doesn’t matter what you think, what you feel, where you stand on the way forward. What matters is that we must have peace, must have dialogue, must have understanding and we must stop this idea that you can kill all those that are opposed to you and that you can wipe them off the face of the earth and crush the opposition, crush those that do not agree with you, this cannot work, we must talk, we must dialogue, that’s the way forward, the only way forward and that’s my preferred option for the future of this country.
We continue to trust God that we won’t have a war, we won’t have a breakup. I assure you as sure I am that night follows day and day follows night, if something isn’t done and we don’t retrace our steps and we stop demonizing and killing each other, the killings of Ibos don’t stop in the S/east, killings of Yorubas don’t stop in the S/west, the killing of middle belters doesn’t stop, being killed by different people, whether Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen, elements within the security forces or whatever it is. Whoever is responsible at the end of it all, everybody will say no offence to Israel, you can kill us but we also have a right to defend ourselves and we will fight back and defend our people and nobody can take that right away from anybody.
So let’s have this concession again in about 3 years, we’ll see who’s right or wrong, but I urge you all just to think and understand the complexity of the situation and the gravity of this terrible mire that we’ve found ourselves in. I pray for those that make these decisions, I pray for those that are in a position to help us achieve peace and I call for dialogue and understanding on all sides but with justice, there must be justice. Without justice, there can be no peace, justice for the people of the S/west, for the people of the S/east, people of the S/south, people of the middle belt and justice for the people of the core north.
But I’ve also been deprived by elements within the state and deny their rights and there must be security. That is the way forward.
Talk to Adams, talk to Igboho, talk to Nnamdi Kanu, talk to Obediah Melafia, talk to everybody and those on the other side also should be able to talk to elements within the Buhari government, for us to now agree that we go our separate ways peacefully or we stay together in a restructured Nigeria. I end with this.
What we must not do is continue as if we don’t have a problem because if we continue that way, believe me, 2023 will be an illusion and even if we get there as one country, I really would pity whoever it is that would take over from President Buhari.
We have some good candidates, those that know me to know who I believe is the right person. I’ve identified who I think worth to be President of this country, but the question for me today is that, will there be a Nigeria in 2023. I pray so, I hope so but at the same time, I will never deny the right of my people in the S/west for self-determination, if that is what they want to do and I would not expect anybody to deny others the right to have the same principle of self-determination exercised in their zones. That is the way of life, that is what you call freedom and liberty and that is what we demand. May God bless you all and thanks for listening to me. Bye for now