By Taofiq Adesina Azeez
The recurrent herdsmen, farmers’ conflicts across Africa is over a century old. If we limit our focus to Nigeria, we will be wrong as usual, to pin down the crises either to the Middle Belt or the South West of Nigeria.
It is, also, evil to regard this criminality as fulanisation/Islamisation. For good or bad reason, Hausa-Fulani conflicts continue to date. There is hardly any complaints against the mauradding and pillaging herdsmen anywhere in Nigeria that are not applicable to the Hausa land. The battle fields are Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebi and, to a large extent, Jigawa. It is a peculiar but tragic mess.
The most critical issues that fly out of the whole siege-like crises are the logistics of information, sophistication of Organized crimes (especially weaponry and kidnapping) and the heirachy of support and protection of criminals.
It may lend some credibility to the conspiracy theory of fighting the unfinished wars with the Hausa and others and a revenge mission to the South West after they were stopped in Osogbo more than 100years ago by the Ibadan army assisting their Osogbo brothers.
The destination may, therefore, be Ibadan through the former Oyo Empire. This, too, is a conspiracy theory that may be difficult to substantiate expect if it is strengthened by the well known Fulani tendency to fight generational wars.
A case that still shakes my heart is the near commando visit of Gen Muhammadu Buhari and Buba Marwa, a former Head of State and Military Governor of Lagos State respectively, to Oyo State Governor in 2000. It was a protest visit on the alleged killing of some Fulani herders in Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State. Late Lam Adesina, the then Governor calmly resolved the crises and bid the two eminent Nigerian Fulani leaders and their militant entourage good bye with lesson notes.
The most interesting part of the tragic drama was not the ease with which the Governor brought down the tension. It was the speed with which the two Fulani Generals intervened in the internal affairs of a state under a civilian dispensation and outside their states of residence.
Their nationalistic spirit was strange as they did not apologize even after knowing that the Fulanis, they came to protect, were the aggressors and the actual killers.
Late Siaka Ajimobi, similarly, dealt promptly with a siege on the same Oke-Ogun and brought peace to the area during his own regime.
The points being made are clear. Fulani herders and farmers conflicts are nationwide and are blind to ethnicity and religion. Indeed, some town Fulanis suffer from their criminal brothers same way.
It is, therefore, strange and satanic to input religion and ethnicity into an extra ordinary crimes committed by a group of people.
What may have changed in the more than 100 years of conflicts is the recent introduction of kidnapping. This, too, is just a Fulani version. They did not start the satanic business.
Perhaps, the most painful point is the nature of the victims. They are mostly Muslims. It is strange to buy into the vicious Fulanisation Islamisation conspiracy as the kidnapping and killing of fellow Muslims in the North and South West can not be explained by any earthly reason.
What begs for a response is the attitude of a sitting Governor to this menace. As the chief Security Officer of Oyo State, Mr Seyi Makinde should have exploited the dexterity with which his predecessors promptly nipped the menace in the bud.
Is it a case of “gambari pa Fulani o lejo nnu”? This is another Yoruba adage that supports the view that Fulanis have fought and killed even fellow Hausa as much as Hausa have killed and still kill them.
Moving forward, this Governor must explain why he is watching the killing of his citizens or step aside if overwhelmed.
If the people so which, they may commence an impeachment process or recall their representatives if all else fails.
The time to act is now as we can not sleep on a keg of gunpowder in Oyo State.
Taofiq Adesina Azeez is of the University of Abuja