Two of Yorubaland’s prized states’ helmsmen – Governors Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and Seyi Makinde – have made very strong but seemingly diametrically opposed positions on the security of their people, making it the most talked about issue in the nation today. In recent time, their Ondo and Oyo States have become hotbeds of the scalding hot security crises in Northeastern and Northwestern Nigeria. Many of the Okada riders are also said to be foreigners and spies for kidnappers and bandits who enter Yorubaland through Nigeria’s porous borders.
In January, 2018, I had written about the deadliness of Fulani herders. Fulani herdsmen have been declared one of the deadliest terrorist groups in the world by the Global Terrorism Index (GTI).
President Muhammadu Buhari also deployed callous euphemisms in the service of his waffle. He labeled the Fulani carnage “misunderstanding, especially between herders and farmers” finally heaping the blame of the persistent murders on climate change and the drying up of Lake Chad. When it was reported that this self-same Fulani herdsmen had killed Mrs. Funke Olakunrin, daughter of Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, along the Ondo-Ore road bordered by thick forests, Buhari again deployed his legendary incoherence. Fulani herdsmen were not responsible for her murder. Armed robbers, he said, killed her.
Unarguably, no one in the Buhari government has been as recklessly audacious in hurting victims of herdsmen’s terrorism as Garba Shehu, the President’s Media aide. Shehu has constituted himself into the most notorious presidential megaphone renowned for his divisive comments on Nigeria’s interminable insecurity issue. A few hours after Governor Akeredolu articulated the views of the people he governs, announcing that the Ondo forest, which Fulani herders use as shawl of cover to commit heinous acts of murder and mindless terrorism, would no longer be accessible for their impunity, Garba shot a verbal poisonous arrow at the people of Ondo State, nay Yorubaland.
To begin with, that statement was one of the swiftest to come from the presidency, underscoring Fulani issue being at the core of Buhari’s emotions. It came less than 24 hours after Akeredolu’s. As usual, it was a bid to again beatify Fulani herders who are known to be responsible for the spate of kidnappings and murders in the Southwest. But Akeredolu would not allow such hogwash dressed in a presidential bandana. “Shehu’s statement is a brazen display of emotional … impression that the inspiration of these criminal elements masquerading as herdsmen is that of power,” he said.
The Oyo State scenario is both similar and dissimilar to the Ondo imbroglio. One Sunday Igboho, who before now was notorious as leader of a statewide land-grabbing cartel and political violence, had reportedly given a seven-day ultimatum to Fulanis to leave Yorubaland. Following a spate of murders, kidnappings and robberies allegedly perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen in Oyo, Igboho was said to have stormed Igangan, Ibarapa area residence of the Seriki Fulani, Saliu Abdul-Kadri, to tell him that an end had come to the Fulani violence.
In a statement issued by Governor Makinde however, he seemed to have sounded like a pacifist in the war to rid Yorubaland of the evil of Fulani herdsmen’s notoriety. He said his administration would not “sit back and watch anyone make any law-abiding resident of Oyo State feel unsafe in their homes, farms, or business places.” Igboho was apparently the referent in Makinde’s innuendo.
Compared to the unusual valour, courage and strength demonstrated by Akeredolu, on the superficial, Makinde sounded like one kowtowing before the Fulani vermin sucking the blood of Yorubaland. However, if you were abreast of some of the issues oscillating in Oyo State, you cannot but act with Makinde’s kind of caution. One is that, but for his latter-day claim to fighting for the people, the name Sunday Igboho was associated with violence in land acquisition, tyranny and political gangsterism. Hundreds of families who have, over the years, fallen victim of Igboho’s land-related violence would be very circumspect on the real motive of his new-found activism.
I suspect that this de-javu undergirded the governor’s fear on Igboho. Should government accommodate the Igboho irritancy and promote outlaws in urgent thirst of rebranding into undeserved heroism? Which is more desirable in the bid to rout the Fulani criminal elements: embrace the crudity of rogue elements and their lawlessness, resort to their outlandish interventions and by that, justifying the pains and despair they inflicted on the people? In theory, any government which openly goes into an unholy dalliance with the lord of thugs cannot earn the respect of the people of Oyo State.
However, the above operates in the realm of theory. Seizing on the vacuum in security over the years and the known powerlessness of governors in such matters, Igboho has become a hero among the traumatized people of Oyo State. Due to the years of Fulani herdsmen’s torment of the people, the response to Igboho’s call to arms is awesome. His heroism has obliterated the long years of his infamy from the minds of the people. Today, Igboho is their own Ogbomoso’s OgboriElemoso of the 15th ceentury, and Makinde is inconsequential in the equation. So, is Sunday Igboho a reincarnation of Elemoso?
On the surface and judging by his actions since he became governor, Makinde doesn’t seem to harbor any motive to be a Fulani fawner. More than many of his ilk in the PDP, he has fought the Buhari government’s policies most vigorously and has made the federal government look very stupid.
That notwithstanding, Makinde and the rest governors of the Southwest would need to flirt after what I call the Akeredolu spirit if they are to be respected by their people. Not doing this will make them to be worthless in the people’s estimation like Muhammadu Buhari and his government. This must however be executed with strict adherence to law and superior logic that the Yoruba are known by, the type that Akeredolu is deploying on Fulanis in Ondo State.
For some weeks now, that irrepressible Ibadan-based broadcaster, Edmund Obilo, has been bringing out the lamentable plights of the people of Igangan in the hands of Fulani herders and drawing out Makinde to confront them headlong. We all know that this won’t happen. With Buhari lionizing the herders in their infamy, no policeman will follow any governor on this suicidal mission.
Yes, I believe that Igboho is very central to this war now. However, he must go through some purgatory, be cleansed of the land-grabbing blood in his hands and return to the fold as leader of the traditional military response to the Fulani menace. There must be genuine repentance and forgiveness for his horde of infractions from thousands of people he inflicted pain upon. The next step would be for Makinde to collaborate with him after his penance to jointly rout the foreign invaders. None of the duo can do it alone. The two, with the support of Amotekun and the science of African metaphysics, should militantly move into the troubled areas of the state where Fulani herdsmen’s vitriol is most burningly dominant and, like Babagana Zulum, working with natives, smoke the blood-sucking deviants back to their land of insouciance.
They should both forget their individual political leanings for now, for the sake of the people. This is because, as Bob Marley sang, all the Fulani criminals and their patrons in government desire at this moment for their evil to thrive is for the governor and Igboho “to keep fussing and fighting.” If government militarily descends on Igboho now, he may sprout uncontrollably and become another Muhammed Yusuff, progenitor of Boko Haram insurgency.
Again and very urgently too, Makinde should stampede out those foreigners and their local Fulani accomplices on Okada terrorising the people. He should also rid Mokola Bridge, as well as the streets of Oyo State, of the eyesore of Northern Nigerian beggars who are defacing its environmental aesthetics and highly burnished peace. If Kaduna’s Nasir el-Rufai and Kano’s Ganduje could deport the eyesore of Almajiri from their states, South West has no business cuddling the menace that the North brought upon itself.
Being firm against the impunity and terrorism of Fulani herders is where the Southwest must begin to externalise what it means by restructuring, a la security. It should then proceed to escalate it further. The ultimate should be a campaign across the region, which must begin now, that only a bastard child of Yorubaland will vote in an unrestructured Nigeria in 2023. By then, Buhari, his Fulani stock and the bastards among Yoruba children who have already begun to campaign for positions in an unrestructured 2023 Nigeria, will begin to take Yorubaland seriously. We must stop them in this act of grabbing spoons to swallow their electoral vomit.
As I was putting my submissions to bed, I learnt that the federal government has ordered Igboho’s arrest. Great. Perhaps this will speed up the denouement of this Fulani grisly drama. Let’s see whether Yoruba will allow this Buhari’s tribal impunity to stand.
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