Nigeria’s cow war: Northern elites as Orogun Adedigba

Oyin Adejobi, late Yoruba cripple thespian renowned for his famous African alternative dispute resolution drama sketches called Kootu Asipa of the 1980s, once allegorized the story of how he became disabled. In Orogun Adedigba, (the wicked co-wife) an autobiographical movie, Adejobi narrativized how his mother’s jealously wicked co-wife puffed up the fire of a destructive potion that immobilized him for life. Iconoclastic Yoruba Kennery brand music lord, Orlando Owo’s Itan Orogun Meji track (the story of two co-wives) also explains the concept of a polygamous home’s squabbles.

Two co-wives in polygamy, in a traditional African Yoruba home, were engaged in spirited scuffles for the heart of their joint household. One day, the eldest wife conspired to kill the son of her co-wife, simply because he was more brilliant than hers. She cooked a portage delicacy served in two different plates. One, which was invitingly reddish and garnished with condiments, was sauced with a killer potion while the second plate, bereft of any poison, was whitish and uninviting. As the children of the two women arrived from school, they headed for the plates of food. While the son of the woman who hewn the death drama picked the reddish but poisoned plate, her stepson picked the one without. The malefactor’s son dies but the co-wife’s immediately went to the local football field and went a-playing football.

Northern and Southern Nigeria are the proverbial co-wives in a polygamous home, A home always replete with commotion, tension is visible at the moment. There is a cow war. In a typical polygamy, illogical, selfish and self-centered postulations are always fired. It is like hot artillery fires.

Today under Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria has taken ten steps backwards to the period of 1950s and 1960s. Unless it is a matter of life and death, it is almost an unconscionable plunge for any southerner to undertake a journey to the north today. Fear of a rekindling of the 1966 pogrom is the beginning of wisdom.

Unlike the spat of the 1950s/1960s, today’s impending war cries have nothing to do with spatial contest with the north over its unfair dominance of the political space. It is about cows – cattle – and where they should graze. Yes, the nationalism of Fulani tribesmen has engaged literature over the years. In 1985 as Head of State, Buhari voted against Nigerian Igbo man, Peter Onu, who was vying for OAU’s Secretary General post, choosing instead to vote his Fulani brother, Ude Oumarou. Nwalimu Julius Nyerere, late Tanzanian leader, could not stomach this scum and openly berated Major General Buhari for betraying Nigeria.

We didn’t however know that this Fulani nationalism was this iniquitously pervasive and destructively genetic. Its metastasis is so bad that a Nigerian president would wangle in spaces for foreign members of his nation in the geographical territory of the place he administers. He never utters a word while this same people kill his Nigerian constituents. It is something in the mould of Olusegun Obasanjo as Nigerian president, because he is Yoruba, forcefully using his presidential powers to seek spaces in Yobe State for his Beninese brethren who speak fluent Yoruba and sing/dance Bolojo traditional song more than even his brother in Ipokia, Ogun State. And on top of it, look the other way if they kill, maim and rape his Nigerian brothers and sisters in that northern Nigerian territory. It is eerily curious. A script writer would need a vastly fertile mind to concoct such a weird scenario.

What kind of human beings justify killings and pains inflicted on their fellow man? It is only on the Animal Channel that one would think this was excusable and practicable. But no, northern elders have proven that that Animal Channel trait isn’t an exclusive preserve of the carnivorous fauna society. For more than half a century, Yoruba have lived with Fulani herders in peace. In some northern parts of Oyo State, especially those who trace their progeny to Ibaribaland, intermarriages of decades have subsisted. Many of these so called Yoruba there have admixture of Fulani/Yoruba blood. Fulani are councilors in local councils in the area and fight for political space to be chairmen. They speak Yoruba more than they do their own Fulani. Now that an influx of their murderous Fula kin have infiltrated the people’s land, destroying crops, raping women and visiting unknown banditry on the people as they did to the Dogon of Central Mali, it is only logical that this violent variant of Fulani must be flushed from Yorubaland. Policemen would not lift a finger against these lords of the manor as they are the president’s kinsmen. There is nowhere that they have ever been convicted for their crimes.

In all this, Yoruba’s Northern Orogun adedigba and their elders never raised their voice against the villainy of the Fulani. When their fly was feasting on the Yoruba wound, it was desirable to keep mute but when the victim started to masticate the offending fly, all hell is now let loose.  Now that the Yoruba have had a fill of the Fulani violence and are asking their murderous guests to leave them in peace, a cacophony of sickening, self-centered cries is flying in the firmament. The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) was the first to grump. Last week, it worried over ejection notices given to Fulani herders and their families in some states of the south. No one heard NEF upbraid Fulani when they embarked on their spate of murders.

Then enters Nasir el-Rufai, the Kaduna State governor who, under him, Fulani have allegedly killed Southern Kaduna indigenes probably in the proportion of the casualties of the Nigerian civil war, preaching against anarchy. This is simply because his Fula compatriots have been asked to leave Yorubaland for peace to reign. In a statement he issued last week, el-Rufai expressed worry about video clips he said were circulating on the social media, even though he said he had not seen any himself, of how his people were being “massacred and their property destroyed.” Now el-Rufai is bothered about “avoidable rhetoric, frenzied ethnic profiling” and the place of the law in human killings. Neither he nor Buhari has expressed disgust at broad daylight rape and killing of Yoruba by Fulani herdsmen.

Restructuring in a properly practiced federal Nigeria, akin to the two Orogun adedigba living in their different abodes and being given their dues by their superintending husband, is the only remedy to this quarrelsome togetherness. That is if the two troublous wives won’t go their separate ways.

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