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Monday, 13 June 2016

Between Buhari and Fulani herdsmen

OPINION: Between Buhari and Fulani herdsmen by Godwin Etakibuebu

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari broadcast to the nation on May 29th 2016, a day dedicated to the celebration of democracy in Nigeria, once again brought to the front burner the question of where Mr President’s loyalty lies between the Nigerian Nation and the dreaded Fulani Herdsmen terrorising the whole country.
On the day, Mr President spoke to Nigerians, ditto the whole world; as the broadcast live to the whole globe through satellite , about the challenges facing his one-year administration and how he was tackling them. He brought Nigerians up to date on the war against Boko Haram. He touched on the new threats to our economic survival by the renewed militancy in the Niger Delta and told us how his government would deal with the Niger Delta Avengers. But surprisingly the President was silent about the most notorious Fulani Herdsmen’s activities, in a broadcast that went for almost an hour. Yet, the criminality of these Herdsmen is most likely to wipe the name of Nigeria out of the world map in the not-too-distant future if care is not taken.
Many people around the world who listened to that broadcast would not understand why Mr. President would chose to keep silent at a time of tyranny of the Fulani Herdsmen.
Questions and more questions would arise from the president’s action. Is he afraid of the Fulani Herdsmen? Is he deliberately refusing to speak against their nefarious activities because of tribal affiliation? Is his silence his own way of encouraging the domination of the Fulani oligarchy to subdue the whole country? Or is this the quickest means of taking Islamic religion across the Sahara desert of the North to the coast of the Atlantic Ocean of the South?
Even above all, the most famous question is who are these Fulani Herdsmen? Permit me to submit that these are not the Fulani Herdsmen who have been around with us in this country for the past one hundred years. I grew up in my village with good knowledge of those sweet and friendly Fulani men with their sticks over their shoulders and enjoying the hospitalities of their host communities. They never carried any Dane gun, which every local hunter of those days possessed. They had with them only daggers, bow and arrows. No cutlasses and no swords.

They were at peace with every one and everyone was at peace with them. But today, the story is different as this new generation of Fulani Herdsmen are expert in both the usage and functionality of AK 47; a very sophisticated military weapon that is most deployed in every modern war because of its light flexibility, accuracy and rapidity in operation. This is what they carry about these days. Where did they get it from and who trained them to so efficient in its usage? Again, who are these Fulani Herdsmen whom Mr. President would rather not talk about?
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt- General Tukur Buratai, in a recent statement, disclosed that “these heavily armed ‘herdsmen’ had links with the world’s most murderous terror group; Boko Haram”. Here is the genuine unmasking of the Herdsmen by a most high ranking military officer who has helped in no small measures in dealing terribly with the Boko Haram insurgency.
Officially and militarily he ought to be in the know of what Boko Haram and its affiliate are. By this revelation, Fulani Herdsmen are more dangerous than the newly resurrected militants of the Niger Delta, far more dangerous that the IPOB of the South/East. Any affiliate of Boko Haram shall always remain the greatest threat to the corporate existence of Nigeria than any other entity – corruption inclusive.
The reason being that in the recent past, Boko Haram has been classified as the number one bloodiest [this was March last year as it has dropped to number four position by March this year] of all the five most dangerous terrorist groups in the world. Others after Boko Haram are the Islamic State (ISIS), the Al Qaeda, the Taliban and Al Shabaab. In one word, Fulani Herdsmen is that ruthless and deadly branch of Boko Haram the same way the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force is to the Islamic State [or ISIS].
Why is the President not confronting this group if he knows that it is as deadly as analysed above?
The answer could be found in one or two reasons. One, a few days ago, the Governor of Ekiti State; Ayo Fayose, revealed that Major General Muhammadu Buhari “led delegation of Cattle Owners Association of Nigeria to Ibadan in Oyo State, sometimes in the year 2000 to demand for explanation for the killing of herdsman in that State”. Major General Buhari did this, according to the Governor, “in his capacity as Grand Patron of the Cattle Owners Association then”. If that allegation can be proved that the President went on that errand [he was a private citizen then anyway], then one would really be very curious when the same man; now as President of the country, will not say a word when the same Herdsmen he represented at a time are now killing, maiming, raping and even kidnapping innocent people all over Nigeria. Let us not forget in hurry that Mr. President, while being sworn-in on 29th May, 2015, disclosed his resolve to tackle “cattle rustlers” without mentioning the “Herdsmen”.
Going through that speech again raises one naughty question. Was it
deliberate that the President mentioned “cattle rustlers” as against “cattle [Fulani] herdsmen”. Rustlers are thieves or armed robbers whose speciality is stealing cows. Mr. President knows the difference between the two. Yet, he chose, in that speech, to tackle the cow thief instead of the murderous herdsman. Where is Mr.President’s loyalty – to his kinsmen; the Fulani Herdsmen, or to Nigerians?
*Mr.Etakibuebu, a veteran journalist, wrote from Lagos, Nigeria.

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