READ THIS BEFORE WAR BECOMES THE NEXT LEVEL
“Those whom the gods will destroy, first, they make them deaf.
Then, they make them mad. Euripides, 480-406 BC, Greek dramatist.
VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, p 147.
- VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS
Before former President Obasanjo released his latest letter to President Buhari, readers of this page had read a column written in May this year titled THE NEXT LEVEL IS PURE ANARCHY. It was designed to warn Nigeria’s political ruling party leadership about the national descent into anarchy – starting with the abdication of control of Zamfara State by an irresponsible former Governor Yari. The man ran to Abuja and left his people at the mercy of heinous criminals. It was well known for more than a year that the state was under siege but, the security threat was ignored, just as the Boko Haram insurgency was before it became a mini-war in the Northeast. There is another mini-war for control of Zamfara State and parts of the Northwest going on at the moment. That started building up about two and a half years ago.
By comparison with the shooting insurgents in the North East and Northwest, a mere call by the Independent People of Biafra, IPOB, to Igbos in the South East to stay at home for a day invariably leads to Army Snake and Cobra dances in the zone. Yet, the political leadership asks others to eschew ethnicity when discussing national issues. Why were there no snake dances in Katsina while it developed into the kidnap capital of Nigeria?
Sandwiched between Boko Haram, the kidnappers and bandits now holding sway in Borno, Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and parts of Niger states, was the terrorist attack unleashed nationally by herdsmen in the last four years. To be sure herdsmen had been clashing with farmers for years before May 29, 2015. But, that date marked a watershed in their activities. Until then, their atrocities were low-key. The election of a Life Patron to very high office was perceived by them as a blanket grant of immunity. They actually went all out to demonstrate they were hell bent on taking advantage of our national mistake on Election Day. The body counts in the last four years and two months to date – over 60,000 Fellow Nigerians slaughtered by herdsmen all over – would have been a befitting monument to some of history’s worst villains — Attila the Hun, Hitler.
Unlike the atrocities of bandits which were merely neglected until they became major conflicts, officialdom, at first ignored the problem of herdsmen. In this case, they actually later took notice of the genocide committed by the herdsmen in ways that smacked of complicity. When over 200 souls were massacred in Agatu in May, 2016, no top Federal Government official visited the people; no relief materials were sent. That same year, the French President cancelled a state visit when terrorists killed only six people. He also personally paid condolence visits to the families of victims. French security forces eventually hunted down the perpetrators and eliminated them. In 2016, the difference was clear between a caring and just national leadership and an openly biased one.
Instead of checking the mindless killers, the leadership first of all turned the blame on the victims – they were accused of not welcoming strangers in their midst. It was a lie. Agatu was home to all ethnic groups for ages before 2016. Then, anti-grazing law passed by the State was offered as the cause of the mayhem. But, Agatu pogrom occurred 16 months before the anti-grazing law was passed. At any rate herdsmen were also killing people in states without anti-grazing laws – even now. Later we were told that renegades from Gadaffi’s army from Libya were the perpetrators. Absolute lies and excuses were offered without once asking herdsmen to stop killing other ethnic groups and destroying their farms. Obviously, only a dunce and an incorrigible liar can fail to see who is promoting nepotism, sectionalism, and ethnic division in Nigeria today.
The Nigerian political leadership had allowed injustice by a small ethnic group to bring us to the brink of war. Obasanjo has merely opened up in his letter what other ethnic groups now feel in their hearts. Rightly or wrongly, the Fulani, whether herdsmen or not, had become everybody else’s number one enemy in Nigeria. They will be wiped out if a war erupts today. Just in case their leaders don’t know, below are the ethnic groups known to me in Nigeria at the moment. Fulani’s constitute less than five per cent. More than they realise, Fulani people are endangered; and even the FG will not be able to save them. In fact, the military itself will be divided – if ethnic war erupts today.
NIGERIAN ETHNIC GROUPS
The list below is not complete by any means. What follows are the ethnic groups the author has been able to confirm exist.
Anang; Afemai; Agatu; Atyap; Agae; Attakar; Awori; Akum; Abonema;
Batta; Bini; Bachama; Borgu; Bajju; Bassa Nge; Bassa Nkomo; Berom; Budang;
Efik; Edo; Egbe; Eggom; Ezaa; Etulo; Egun; Fulani; Farough; Fali; Gwari; Gbagyi; Goemal; Higgis; Hausa; Igbo; Ibibio; Ijaw; Itsekiri; Isoko; Ika; Idoma; Igala; Igbira [Ebira]; Ishan; Ilaje; Ikulu; Ikwere; Ibani; Isobo; Izi; Ikuero; Iyive; Izere; Igede Juguns; Kalabari; Komanton; Kutep; Kubi; Kanuri, Koma,
Lapai; Langtan; Mushere; Nupe; Nkomo; Ngas; Ogoni; Oron;Okun; Okrika; Obigbo Stobe; Tiv; Tappa; Tohan; Tarohk, Uzomba, Wawa; Wuse; Yoruba, Yagba; Zuru.
At least six of those ethnic groups have larger population than Fulani – Hausa, Igbo, Ijaw, Urhobo, Tiv and Yoruba. That fact alone should serve as caution to the Fulanis who might be taking this matter lightly. It is a war they cannot win. Peace is more in their own interest. Now, let us turn briefly to two issues raised by Obasanjo and examine their implications before we allow the herdsmen/farmers/communities clashes to degenerate into war.
“Spontaneous or planned reprisals against the Fulani which may inadvertently or advertently mushroom into pogrom or Rwanda-type genocide that we did not believe could happen and yet it happened.”
Anyone who imagines that the next civil war will resemble the 1967-70 war must go and have his head examined. The rest of Nigeria will not gang up against Igbos this time. The front lines for this one are already known. They will be North versus South primarily; and in that face-off the South is now more united. The North, meanwhile, is more divided. Most of the Northern ethnic groups listed above will certainly embark on revenge mission against the few Fulanis in their territory. Furthermore, in 1967 there were few weapons in the hands of citizens. Today, weapons in private hands outnumber those with the military by almost twenty to one. Soldiers will also become endangered species of Nigerians. A soldier is engaged to kill for his country; not to die for her. Sending soldiers to quell the outbreak of violence resulting from escalation of hostilities will amount to sending them out on suicide missions. Few will return alive.
“Very onerous cloud is gathering. And rain of destruction, violence, disaster, and disunity can only be the outcome.”
Obasanjo has summarised the situation perfectly. We might be approaching the point of no return. I was in the US during the civil war; so it is impossible for me to describe how people felt on both sides of that war. But, I have visited 22 states since January this year. Even without a war declared, there is already a sense of disunity which was not there under Balewa, Gowon, Murtala Mohammed, Shagari, Babangida, even murderous Abacha, Abubakar and Yar’Adua – all former Northern leaders. Never have other ethnic groups felt the sense of injustice so keenly as to want to revolt.
“There is nothing more dangerous than for a leader to look back and discover there is nobody following.” US President, Lyndon Johnson, 1908-1973.
Two recent events have demonstrated how increasingly isolated the political leadership in Abuja is from the people of Nigeria today. The announced establishment of a Fulani Radio Station for herdsmen and RUGA. I will touch only RUGA. The introduction of RUGA or Cattle Settlement, which was a bold step in the right direction, had turned into a farcical fiasco because of inept management by Federal Government officials. What should have been a national policy on the establishment of cattle ranches and approved grazing lands in the interim had been allowed to degenerate into a conflict between FG and Herdsmen on one side and almost the rest of Nigeria on the other. At the moment finding a nationally acceptable Public-Private-Partnership, PPP, solution, backed by appropriate laws is foreclosed while we fight. The problem remains unsolved. That is just plain stupidity. More frightful is the gradual slide from that unfortunate lack of thought to battle cries all over.
THE SHI’ITE THREAT
The Nigerian political leadership is now in the untenable situation of losing most of the people. The South is now solidly against RUGA. Parts of the Middle Belt are not following. We are now witnessing the emergence of another Northern dissident group – the Shi’ites – whose increasing militancy could soon rival, if not surpass, Boko Haram in terms of the violence they can unleash. When a group claiming to have 21 million members declare their readiness to die, reasonable people should understand that it is not their intention to die alone without taking others down with them. When Shi’ite shooting starts in earnest, peace in the North would be gone for several decades. Stoking the embers of Shi’ite insurgency is what can only be called Executive lawlessness. If El-Zakzaky dies in detention, nobody can prevent an all out war in Nigeria.
Intractable under-development of Nigeria is already posing a serious challenge to the nation’s security. Large chunks of the funds we need for education, infrastructure, food supply, power and health is now being thrown away battling Boko Haram, kidnappers and now bandits. Does it require rocket-science intelligence for anybody to understand that we cannot afford another war?
SOUTH WEST APC LEADERSHIP STANDING ON BANANA PEEL
“Ehinkule lóta wa; ile laseni ngbe” (Yoruba adage). Translation: “The enemy is in the backyard; the traitor is lives with us inside the house.”
The Presidency advised that the murder of Pa Fasoranti’s daughter, Mrs Olakunrin, should not be politicised. Sensible counsel; but likely to be ignored. In fact, the condolence visit of one of the leaders of the APC to the bereaved old man, followed by an interview with reporters is a clear demonstration that politics without boundaries is now the vogue. South West political leaders are at risk. The leader had sensibly admonished Nigerians not to “stigmatise” a particular group and hold them responsible for this and all atrocities. If he had made that statement four years ago at the height of his popularity, there would have been no dispute. Today, with the SW up in arms against Fulani herdsmen, that utterly sensible suggestion has now become proof beyond reasonable doubt that the fellow is a sell-out to Buhari and a traitor to the Yoruba nation.
To understand how serious the situation is, the person who uttered the Yoruba adage above served beer to everybody when Buhari was re-elected in February and showered praises on the leader. In March this year, Fulani herdsmen invaded his father’s farm at Iseyin and destroyed it. Today, the easiest way to get him angry is to mention herdsmen. As far as he is concerned, APC leaders no longer represent his interest. He is ready for battle if it comes.
- INNOCENT NIGERIA
FG better listen to Obasanjo instead of shooting the messenger because they don’t like the message.