Veteran journalist, Chief Tola Adeniyi is angry. And these days he wears a worried look. He is unhappy at the turn of events in Nigeria. He is miffed at the senseless killings up North by Fulani herdsmen and he is very uncomfortable with the inability of Pres Muhammadu Buhari to stop the Fulani herdsmen.
In those good old days as a media practitioner, Chief Tola Adeniyi was a fiery writer. He was one the columnists known for speaking truth to power. Those were the days when he wrote about 16 columns weekly and editorials for some of the publications in the Daily Times and Tribune group. Those were the days when he used his pen name Abba Saheed effectively for some of his writings.
Then, he was much younger. Those were the good old days when Alhaji Babatunde Jose controlled the print media. He was like the Commander-in-Chief of the print media and all practitioners differed to him. Those were the days when columnists had a cult following.
Now, the respected media guru is in semi-retirement. He is in his late 60s. But he has not quit writing. He still writes colums for a few newspapers and magazines like The SUN and City People. And one can notice Chief Adeniyi’s anger with the way Nigeria is currently being run in his writing. He is one of the Yoruba elderstateman who are in the forefront of the clamour for Restructuring. In this interview, with City People Publisher Seye Kehinde this Ago-Iwoye born prose stylist calls on Pres Buhari to call the herdsman to order.
You are one of the elder statesmen from the South West leading the call for Restructuring of the country. Why is that the way to go?
Up until about 6 months ago, the clamour was for restructuring. But to be honest with you I think we have even gone beyond the issue of restructuring. Because when we were even talking of restructuring we are looking at the possibilities of having regional structure, like what Abacha recommended for Nigeria-having 6 structures: North-East, North-West, South-West, South South, South East and so on. That was in effect to ensure that we have true federalism and then we put an end to the Unitary form of government. But we have gone beyond that in the last 6 months, what Nigerians are clamouring for now is real, real, amacipation for the country, freedom for Nigerians, from Fulani tyranny.
We have come to realise that over the years Nigerians have allowed themselves to be enslaved politically, military wise and by wishy-washy Kangaroo Constitution. Constitutionally, when I say 3 Kangaroo constitution, its in the sense that they created so many states and local governments and put them in the constitution. And the LG that were created became the basis for sharing revenue. And we allowed it to happen. So, “Constitutionally” we are also enslaved. Because what we are running at the moment is Fulani constitution or better still a Fulani Military constitution. Therefore, the issue of restructuring is just half way to what is needed at this moment.
What is needed at the moment?
What is needed is to end the Fulani colonisation of Nigeria, to end the feudalism and fiefdom that they’ve reduced Nigeria to. What you have is less than 5 million people, wanting to lord it over other people, saying whatever they want must be done. So, if they want grazing land, they must have grazing land. If they want Unitary system of government, they must have Unitary system of government. If they say they don’t want Federalism, then there should be no Federalism. So, we now have less than 5 million people who came to this country less than 400 years ago wanting to continue to rule over people who have lived in this country far beyond that. Go and check your history. For instance, the Benue people, with the Nok Culture had lived in Nigeria before 2,000 BC, before 3,000BC. The Yorubas of the forest of West Africa, especially from South-West Nigeria have been there from the time of creation of man. The Yorubas had lived here before the deluge. What is known as the great flood.
That is why we have Ife-Odaye (the Ife of Creation) and the Ife Ooye (after the deluge, those who survived the deluge) what I am saying therefore is that ethnic nationalities like Idoma had lived in Nigeria before 900AD, now being controlled and dictated to by those who came just about 200 yrs ago. And we are saying that should not be so, that should end. How can some Fulani people be telling us that Benue is their possession by way of conquest? That is arrant nonsense Britain conquered India, and West Africa but they are no longer ruling here. Some people conquered Britain they are no longer there. Portugal conquered parts of West Africa and South America, they are no longer ruling there now.
So, to answer your question, we are no longer calling for Restructuring, we are calling for emancipation and freedom for all the people of Nigeria from Fulani tyranny.
Most of these things have been institutionalized how do you want to fundamentally change it?
Yes it has been institutionalised but it won’t be the 1st to be institutionalised. The Roman Empire once ruled over Palestine, over Egypt and North Africa, over Britain and most parts of Europe. They were institutionalised. They had institutions there. They had leaders, they had governors and so on but they were rewarded eventually-Being institutionalised means nothing. All these things can be changed Yes, they have institutionalised bogus boundaries, bogus House of Assembly, bogus voters system, bogus census. Those are institutions. Roman Empire also had institutions. Britain had institutions previous empires in the world had institutions. But all these institutions just collapsed once the people fought for their freedom and said No to colonialism and imperialism. So, whatever institutions the Fulani oligarchy has created in Nigeria will collapse.
When the terms like Hausa, Fulani, minorities are used many people don’t understand their true meanings…What is the relationship between these different groups? What are the differences?
It is unfortunate that many don’t understand all these differences. It is not their fault. Since 1804 or precisely 1808 when the Fulani intruders murdered the king of Gobir (that is the Hausa kingdom) they took over control and installed Emirs in Hausa kingdoms. By so doing, they also cleverly brought the Hausas under their control. They intermarried.
And they adopted the Hausa language. They are very clever people. They subsumed the Hausa people under their control, but the Hausa people have a larger people. To hide the minority status which they have always been, they now coined the name Hausa-Fulani. The truth of the matter, going by history is that there is nothing like Hausa-Fulani. I have always argued this. You cannot be Egba-Ijebu, or Ibiobio-Anang. You cannot be Idoma-Igala, Junkun-Latang. It is either you are Ibiobio or Anang. It is either you are Hausa or Fulani. You are either Ijebu or Ijesha or Ekiti. You cannot be Ondo-Ekiti. So there is nothing like Hausa-Fulani. There is nothing called Hausa-Fulani.
The Fulanis are a minority. They came from FUTA JALON Island. They are just about 5 million people, in the whole of the North. Even in the caliphate in Sokoto, the majority of the population there is Hausa in Kano the majority of the population is Hausa. Kano has about 90 percent Hausa. The majority of the population in Zamfara is Hausa. But the ruling elite in those areas is Fulani. So there is no nomenclature called Hausa-Fulani. It is part of the gimmick with which they have continued to bambozzle the rest of the country.
What do you make of all the killing in Benue and other parts of the North, especially the herdsmen issue?
I agree with those who say it is Systematic, it is pre-meditated, and part of the Agenda of the Fulani ruling class. Historically the Fulani about 200 years ago and their plan is to conquer the people they met on ground, drive them away from their land and take over the place, even worse than what the British and French did, because the French will only come and colonise you but leave you to live on your land. The British didn’t come here to drive you out of your land. They only did so in South Africa with support of the Dutch people. They didn’t even drive away the people there. They only colonised them. What the Fulani had always wanted to do was to take your land, impose themselves on you, and drive you away, drive you underground.
That is what they have now done successfully in Plateau. They have taken Plateau land from the original owners of the place. What has been responsible for the killings we have had in that last one and a half years is to actualise what they have always wanted to do-which is to take over Nigeria and force everybody into submission so that they will continue to rule. They have been ruling us since 1966 when they imposed Unitary form of government on Nigeria. But they are not even satisfied with that. They want to take over the land. They want to put an emir in every town, in every village all over Nigeria. That is their end goal. That is why they are killing people, to frighten, and to intimidate people and force us into submission which by the grace of God will not happen.
Did you ever think that the Buhari regime will allow Nigeria degenerate into the state it is now, with all the killings?
It is very unfortunate because I owe personal responsibility for my contribution, my modest contribution to bringing this regime into power. I say with all modesty that the Global Intelligentsia for Buhari which I created in 2014 to campaign massively for Buhari and to also source for funds did not envisage that the Buhari that the organisation was working for and promoting was an irredentist and was the leader of these herdsmen. They are his people. We did not know that when he said he has been converted to become a democrat, we didn’t know he didn’t mean it. When Asiwaju Tinubu, Owu and Co in other progressive parties and those who were annoyed out of PDP all converged to form the APC we thought they are going to give Nigeria an alternative, and that they were going to stop the kleptocracy of the PDP. We supported him then because of the image of Buhari then as Mr. Clean, we thought he would do better and cleanse the country of corruption.
Experience has taught us now that he is far from what we expected, because Nepotism has gained ground. Nepotism is worse than Corruption. Nepotism is the worst form of corruption. That is what we now face. When you put your father, your mother, auntie, sister, uncle, cousin, niece in government and you monopolise power, it is the greatest form of corruption. And that is the battle we are fighting today. Corruption has become worse now than it was before now. Nepotism is the worst form of corruption.