IF there is one thing that has again advertised Nigeria as a dangerously fragile country, it is the fallout of the eviction notice issued to herders to leave Igangan community in Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State by the Akoni Oodua of Yorubaland, Sunday Adeyemo, otherwise known as Sunday Igboho.
Igboho had given a seven-day ultimatum to herdsmen accused of killings, kidnappings, rape and other abominable crimes to leave the aforementioned community.
True to his words, the Yoruba chief alongside his fans invaded Igangan community and ejected herders, including Seriki Fulani, Salihu Abdukadir, from Ibarapaland at the expiration of the ultimatum issued.
To be clear, Igboho spat at the law and opted for impunity instead by issuing an eviction notice to herders in Igangan community. Though condemnable, it is what happens where impunity is king and the oppressed resort to self-help.
From Ondo to Ogun, Ebonyi to Delta, Kaduna to Jigawa, sad tales of law-abiding Nigerians who are locked in the prison of agony because of a people’s sense of entitlement have not ceased to rankle many. And, hope of freedom remains elusive.
It is this state of helplessness, precipitated by the callousness of herdsmen and the impotence of the men of power that has made a hero of the Igbohos of this world.
Only recently, for instance, residents and monarchs of some villages in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State lamented that they were mercilessly beaten till they saw stars by men in military uniform.
Not because they looted valuable items, or made a pass at the wife of a General in the Nigerian Army. Their unforgivable sin? They prevented herders from accessing their farms for allegedly raping, destroying farmlands and killing residents.
Perhaps the herders and the men in military uniform who brutalised the villagers in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State had drawn inspiration from an earlier statement by President Buhari’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, which suggested that Nigerians should give up their ancestral settlements for grazing to curb killings occasioned by frequent clashes between farmers and herders as only the living can talk of ancestral attachment at a time the tears of the victims of the callousness of herders had yet to dry. It was a dance on the grave of the dead by Buhari’s spokesman.
Little wonder the National President of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Abdullahi Bodejo, had the temerity to declare that “all lands in this country belong to the Fulani”. No doubt, the view expressed by the Miyetti Allah leader is not only capable of fanning the embers of discord in a country sharply divided along religious and ethnic lines, it hands a phoney sense of entitlement to a section of the country.
Curiously, Mallam Garba Shehu – the presidential aide whose needless anger about a harmless directive by the Ondo State government that herders in the forest reserves in the state should either get registered or leave stirred controversy- was (and still) not on hand to cure the verbal diarrhoea of a man in dire need of some education.
Say what you may about about Sunday Igboho, he is to many the ‘saviour’ of the oppressed, especially the victims of herdsmen attacks in the South West who look to him for salvation. And, the ‘saviour’, has not hidden his intention to chase all the herders deemed the tormentors of the Yoruba from the South West.
But do things have to get this horrible? Is this not the same country patriots – dead and living – fought very hard during the civil war to keep together? Expectedly, the Arewa Consultative Forum has warned that the crisis between the people of the South West and Fulani herdsmen could snowball into another civil war if not properly handled, calling on governments at all levels to be proactive to stop history from repeating itself.
It must be stated that war has never solved any problem. At least, none that this writer is aware of. In fact, a great number of those who witnessed the civil war do not wish and pray for a second experience.
Some lines from “Viva Nigeria”, an evergreen song by Afrobeat creator, Fela Kuti, which was recorded in Los Angeles in 1969 during the Nigerian civil war, has an advice for those whose actions and inaction call for another war: “Never should we learn to wage war against each other. Let Nigeria be a lesson to all. We have more to learn towards building than destroying. Our people can’t afford any more sufferings. Let’s join hands Africa. We have nothing to lose. But a lot to gain. War is not the answer. War has never been the answer. And it will never be the answer.”
Wise words! It is, however, noteworthy that we can only achieve a lot together when people respect one another in a country where injustice and double standard are not the order of the day. If Nigeria must not burn, those in the power loop must be fair to all. They must truly belong to everybody and belong to nobody.
In a country where the Miyetti Allah leader claims the lands in Nigeria belong to the Fulani, it is only expected that such unguarded comments will fuel provocation, particularly among families of the victims of the murderous activities of herdsmen.
But where is the voice of rebuke from the seat of power?