The Nigerian state is in dire straits. Agitations are springing up everywhere and the sovereignty of the country is becoming increasingly threatened. Not a day passes without a group or section of the country making one serious demand or the other. While the Igbos, for years running, have been demanding for the state of Biafra, the Yoruba are making strong calls for the restructuring of the country. The Niger Delta keep crying out against marginalization while the middle-belt wonders why the government continues to ignore its calls for increased security against banditry. What about the Fulanis? They want the right to go to any part of the country, have access to any farmland of their choice, graze their cows and walk away without any hassle, even if they have left such farmland in a state of monumental destruction. And for the more angered Yoruba, they desire to take things a little further – they would not mind having their own Oduduwa nation. For some other group of people, they are neither here nor there. All they demand from the government is good governance. So long as they can put food on the table and provide for their family, they’re good. It really does not matter to them which name the country chooses to call itself.
But for the discerning, this is much more serious than that. For the Yoruba most especially, there couldn’t be a better time to stand up against injustice, nepotism and more recently, the threats of the menacing Fulani herdsmen. These killer herdsmen have become a major nightmare to most Nigerians. Whether it is the East, North- East, South-West, South-East, middle-belt, name it, Fulani herdsmen have wreaked havoc, cruelly slaughtering Nigerians, including women and children, everywhere they go. And the sad part of it all is that they are hardly ever caught, arrested or prosecuted. The government simply looks the other way when the kinsmen of Mr. President go on killing spree. It is no longer unusual these days to find the roads to many farms littered and painted red with human blood….the blood of the innocent farm owners whose lives have been cut short by the killer herdsmen. Now, these Fulani monsters have spread down to the South-West, maiming, raping and killing those who have dared to stand in their way. This has subsequently triggered renewed agitations for the Yoruba to rise up and speak against, not just the Fulani herdsmen, but a government that has chosen to protect only the northerners, appoint in positions of power the Hausa-Fulani only and offer the kinsmen of the president certain privileges that only those from the northern parts of the country can have access to.
The Yorubas, understandably, are angry. They are embittered. They are asking questions, and are seeking immediate answers to these questions from Mr. President. They want to know, for instance, why President Muhammadu Buhari, who once declared his support for a restructuring of the country before he was voted into power, no longer entertains the subject whenever it is raised. Yoruba would like to know why the president has shown total disregard for some of Yoruba’s brightest minds (and that of other ethnic tribes too) and preferred to appoint only those from the Hausa/Fulani extraction into positions of authority and significance, even when there are more eminently qualified personnel from other tribes. Or is it a mere coincidence that all Heads of major security and economic arms of government under this regime are all Fulani? Why are all the military Garrisons in the country commanded by northerners?
And even if Mr. President, in all his wisdom decided that every other ethnic tribe should play second fiddle to his stock when it comes to occupying critical positions in his government, how can he explain his affection and loyalty to the likes of Chad and Niger Republic? Why is the president doing a fully funded N2 billion rail line to Niger Republic when we have similar undone projects begging to be completed here in the country? Such humongous sum would go a long way in improving our health care system, build more hospitals, construct more roads and improve the nation’s woeful power supply. And why is the president laying gas pipelines to same Niger Republic? Has this got anything to do with the president’s rumoured ties with Niger Republic? Can he be trusted not to put under Niger’s control some of Nigeria’s resources as is being touted?
Talking about trust, it has been widely reported that at the time the APC merged, years back and shortly before President Buhari got elected into office, a zoning formula was agreed. Though there was no written agreement to this effect, it was merely a gentleman’s agreement between President Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and a handful of other top chieftains of the party at the time. Now, that 2023 is just around the corner, and from the unfavourable recent body language of Mr. President, can the Yoruba trust the president to support a Yoruba presidential candidate when it’s their turn in 2023? This is one of the pertinent questions Yorubas would like Mr. President to answer.
The herdsmen menace is a major talking point about the President Buhari administration. Following the recent spate of killings of Yoruba in Oyo and Ogun States, many are wondering, why does the president always turn a blind eye when his kinsmen slaughter innocent people only to react sharply whenever there is a reprisal attack on them and they are given quit notice? Why is it that when these Fulani criminals perpetrate crimes, the presidency is quick to release statements saying they are ‘foreigners’, but the moment they are issued quit notice, the same presidency reacts by saying all Nigerians are free under the constitution, to live anywhere within the country? Even as they rape and kill the wives of their hosts and slaughter the husbands in cold blood? Is this all about protecting these monsters being the Grand Patron of the Myetti Cattle Association himself?
Why is this government suddenly desperate to register everyone under NIN within such a short time? Is this part of the grand plan by the Buhari administration to have all the Niger Republic and Chad foreigners in the north to register as Nigerians? The Yorubas are wondering, how come a Fulani man can carry in public an AK 47 weapon and no southerner can dare to be seen with a pistol without being arrested? Why should military vigilante groups in the north be allowed to carry weapons while South-west groups like Amotekun are only allowed to carry sticks and no weapon? How come the Ghanaian president issued a law banning these Fulani criminals from setting foot in Ghana in 2019 and our own president cannot do the same despite the volume of kidnappings and killings perpetrated by these monsters?
The President must address these questions. He owes this to, not just the Yoruba, but to the entire nation as well. Whether the government openly admits this or not, the fact of the matter is that Nigeria is currently sitting on a very dangerous precipice, and as it is, it is only a matter of time that we get to the tipping point. Sadly, many top Yoruba and non- Yoruba leaders alike who should be speaking out and standing up against the government on this herdsmen issue have chosen to remain silent. For them, the menace of the Fulani herdsmen is too insignificant to risk losing their 2023 ambitions. But that is where they are missing the point. With the way things are going, what if we find ourselves in a complete state of anarchy by the time 2023 comes upon us? Already, a handful of brilliant political analysts, who have taken time to look into their crystal balls, are already warning us that there may not be a Nigeria by the time 2023 finally arrives. While we fervently hope that this projection does not manifest, we can only pray and expect that the government would wake up to its responsibility to safeguard the lives and properties of its people. When the people become extremely desperate and no longer show confidence in the leadership of the government to protect their lives, they will recourse to providing their own security themselves. And when that happens, you can be sure they will be compelled to take the law into their own hands. This is why the Sunday Igbohos are springing up and taking it upon themselves to protect their communities and become the people’s heroes. Many more Sunday Igbohos will surely begin to emerge and that in itself could spell danger for everyone.
The Yorubas are known to be peace-loving people. They are peacemakers. They do not foment trouble and they have shown, over the years, to be exceptional hosts to the Fulanis. But history also tells us that the Yorubas are not cowards. When pushed to the wall, they will fight back and put everything they’ve got into that battle. We hope and pray that the nation does not witness the anger of the Yoruba. This is why Mr. President must give answers to the aforementioned questions and begin a systematic arrest and prosecution of the criminals amongst the Fulani people. And the time to do that is now. The time has come for the president to prove that he is not the president of only a section of the country, that indeed, he belongs everybody. At the moment, Nigerians have made up their minds that he is, without a doubt, a president who feels responsible to only his kinsmen. It is up to him to prove us wrong. Again, we pray, may we never witness the anger of the Yoruba.