Insentient Presidency and the making of Sunday Igboho

For those who have spent the last six years, defending the regime of General Muhammadu Buhari and its acquiescence to the bloodletting activities of criminality-minded herdsmen across the country, the events of the last one week should be enough to open their eyes or they remain blind permanently. Nothing has exposed the complicity of the presidency in all the killings, kidnappings, farmer/herders clashes in the South West, and nay, in every other part of the country, with similar occurrences, more than that office’s reaction to the last week’s ultimatum issued by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to illegal herders in the state’s Forest Reserves to vacate same. The governor’s action was premised on the incessant kidnappings, killings, rape and other nefarious activities perpetrated by herdsmen in the entire state and the need to register genuine herders and apprehend those criminal elements who have overtime, infiltrated the ranks of the herdsmen. But from the blues came the Presidency, which did not only condemn the governor’s directive, but went ahead to accuse Akeredolu of an attempt “to unilaterally oust thousands of herders who have lived all their lives in the state on account of the infiltration of the forests by criminals”, but tacitly injected that the order “could set off a chain of events which the makers of our constitution foresaw and tried to guard against”. Buoyed by the unfortunate statement signed by Garba Sheu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, the herders’ pressure group, the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, through Bello Bodejo, declared that nobody could chase herdsmen away from the Forest Reserves in Ondo State. Bodejo was arrogant in his response to the ultimatum. He said the Fulani herders had been in the forests Akeredolu was talking about ever before the governor was born; over 250 years. The herders, he claimed, fertilised the land with their cow dung before the “people would begin to come there to farm and to settle and from then, they begin to make claims that our cattle were destroying their farms”. In essence, by Miyetti Allah’s reckoning, the herders got to the forests before the Ondo farmers! “The herdsmen will not step an inch out of Ondo forests; they are going nowhere”, he told Akeredolu. The body was followed swiftly by the Northern Elders Forum, which also directed the herders to disregard Akeredolu’s order.

My immediate response to the Miyetti Allah’s posture was to draw wisdom from the Ekiti ethno juju music maestro, the late Elemure Ogunyemi, who, in one of his hit albums sang: “Olule ha lo ak’alejo”. This simply means: “a time comes, when the landlord leaves the house for the visitor to occupy”. The late Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa, got the eternal wisdom in Elemure’s philosophy early enough. He applied the precautionary measure in full blast, almost immediately. Years back, some Northerners, resident in Benin, had paid him a visit to introduce their new leaders. Trouble started when the leader of the delegation introduced himself as the “Leader of Arewa in Edo State”. Before he could continue with the introduction, Oba Erediauwa cut him short. He asked: “What did you just say you are”?  The  man responded, “Leader of Arewa in Edo State”.  The Oba bluntly told him that nobody on earth could be the owner of the land in the entire Benin Kingdom. “Arewa”, using contrastive linguistics, depicts political leadership. For non-native Hausa speakers, it  means “owner of the land”. That was the meaning Oba Erediauwa picked. The Bini people have a saying: “Aiguobasinmwin-otor” – you don’t drag land with the Oba. Simple! There cannot be an Arewa – owner of the land – in Benin Kingdom, where the Uku Akpolokpolo reigns. That is an unpardonable abomination! Oba Erediauwa told them that plainly. The lead delegate lost colour. By the time they got back to their Aduwawa camp, some Bini chiefs were waiting for them to straighten out things. Till date, no Northerner is laying claim to any “Arewa” enclave in Benin. They live among the people and respect their traditions and customs. During Igue Festival, once the Omo N’Oba says no merriment, no drumming, like every non-Bini living in the kingdom, the Northern elements obey too. Bini tradition ensures that in the Kingdom, though there is equal opportunity for indigenes and non-indigenes to thrive, there is no room for strangers to chase away the landlords. Oba Ghato Kpere… Ise!

Sadly enough, the reverse is the case, almost everywhere, especially in Yoruba land. The festering war of attrition being waged against the people in Yorubaland by their once strangers and visitors, the murderous Fulani herdsmen, who daily terrorise them, is as a result of the fact that the people allowed the strangers to take over their homestead. The owners are now tenants in their ancestral homes. That is why the Fulani lords could trace Akeredolu’s genealogy and concluded that he was not yet born when they entered Ondo forests! Go to many Yoruba towns, you will find one Seriki Fulani or Seriki Hausa or the other. In some communities you have these Serikis sitting in council with the traditional rulers. Don’t get it wrong. There is nothing bad in being accommodating. But there is everything bad in not being circumspect! The recent tension in Ondo and Oyo States axis of the region brings out two things. One, the carelessness of the traditional leadership, which refused to strike when the iron was hot. A people, who left things to degenerate before they woke up from their slumber. And the second is the acquiescence of the Major General Buhari regime to the sanguinary tendencies of the herdsmen, who daily visit pains, tears, sorrow and blood on innocent citizens, anywhere they go.

For me, nothing can be more unfortunate than that statement by  Sheu. Those arguing that Sheu could have issued the statement without the knowledge of Buhari don’t know what Corporate Public Relations is. No publicist issues a statement without the concurrence of the principal. If not, why has he not been punished? Before the noise from Akure could die down, another rumbling noise echoed from the Ibarapa end of Oyo State. A self-styled “Yoruba activist”, Sunday Adeyemo, aka, Sunday Igboho, suddenly issued another ultimatum for the criminal elements among the Fulani people living in that area to leave and promised to visit Igangan, Ibarapa North Local Government Area last week Friday. He did visit Igangan and paid a “warning” visit to Alhaji Saliu Abdulkadir, the SERIKI FULANI in Igangan. Moments after Igboho left, hell was let loose. Some youths invaded Abdulkadir’s home, razed the place and chased  him, his family and acolytes to the nearest bush. Within hours, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, responded, calling for Igboho’s arrest. “if this is not done, there maybe counter attacks in the north and the country will be up in flames”, it warned. The group reminded Nigerians that incident like the Igangan one, led to the 1967 civil war. This time around, however, ACF got more than what it bargained for. Rather than quiver at the threats,  Afenifere, its Yoruba equivalent, answered appropriately. You cannot threaten Yoruba with war, the group retorted. “We must make it clear to them that they cannot threaten us with a war at this stage as we will not provoke war but never are we going to run for anybody on our land”, Afenifere fired back. It appears the era of pacification and indulgence is over. Afenifere is no longer ready to pamper the spoilt Fulani stock. The message is clear:  no single tribe owns Nigerian “barrel, bullet and powder”! ACF cannot play the blind, deaf and dumb when its offspring kill other people and then threaten fire and brimstone when one over-indulged “Seriki” is attacked, no matter how condemnable the attack is criminal. Fulani herdsmen daily rape wives in the presence of their husbands, deflower daughters while their fathers watch helplessly and slaughter parents to the terror of their children. Not a whimper comes from ACF. Same ACF cannot be issuing threats of war now because of an isolated case; bad as it was or is. That said, Sunday Igboho, on his own should not be a poster boy for the Yoruba race. No rational mind should support what he did in Igangan. Watch it, very soon, like the Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’s monster that he is, Igboho will turn round to consume his creators. No matter how you clap for him, he is not in the mould of the family madman that is nurtured to tackle the madman that will come from the outside. Yoruba is too sophisticated for him to be the proverbial brave younger brother of Dada, the dreadlocked one, who avenges his elder brother. He should never be deified. Because if he gets away with the present action, a day will come when he will have no herdsmen to chase and he will chase us or our children. But don’t  blame Sunday Igboho alone. Blame the inorganic leadership, who traded off nationalism for sectionalism. Blame the leaders who preferred cows to men and asked us to give up our ancestral homes so as to live. Blame those who for political gains will not mind if their wives and daughters are raped on the way to Ilejemeje, as long as the lords of Abuja assured them of 2023. Condemn those who took oath to defend the entire nation, but who only protect the Fulani heritage. Do we really know how many Sunday Igbohos this administration has created all over the country due to its  unmasked nepotism, and acute insensitivity to the pains of other ethnic groups? If Sunday Igboho is arrested and possibly eliminated today, are we sure thousands of his ilk will not rise tomorrow?  After Mohammed Yusuf, the founder of Boko Haram, was killed on July 30, 2009, did the hydra-headed monster group not become more vociferous under Abubakar Shekau, who took  over and  became ten times deadlier? Lay the blame squarely on Buhari’s head, if anything happens to the Nigerian nation, for he is a leader who wasted all the goodwill invested in him. Let the torrents of blame pour on those leaders whose voices are muted now but will turn around to ask us: “where are the cows”? Blame those leaders and their ilk, who have remained deaf, blind and dumb but will, very shortly, mount the podium to beg for the prints of our thumbs in order to facilitate their ascendancy to the exalted seat in the Rocky Villa. Above all, blame yourself if you willy-nilly walk into their carefully woven labyrinth of lies and deceit ever again.


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