A few years ago, when Boko Haram visited Abuja, unleashing mayhem at the popular Nyanya motor park, the then President, Goodluck Jonathan, chose that same day to go to Kano for some political rally. So, while NEMA, paramedics and security operatives were busy picking, and filling body bags with, beefy chunks and bloodied mesh of what, a few minutes earlier, were fellow compatriots, our President and his partymen were stomping to campaign jingles in Kano. That same Kano, incidentally, would end up inflicting the most grievous injury on Jonathan’s bid to return to power – casting nearly all of its curious two million votes for Jonathan’s opponent, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
Now, fast-forward to January 2, 2018! While the people of Benue State (and the nation at large) were still dazed by the cruel murder of some 73 citizens by cow-less herdsmen, and the killing of another 11 farmers by the same fly-by-night killers, our President, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, chose to head to Kaduna to commission a dry port. Did I hear anybody say like Jonathan, like Buhari? I no know book o!
But, I suspect that, if the Buhari government had its way, the issue of marauding herdsmen would be blanked off the media. Or better still, if we are reporting about the slaughter of 73 people in Benue, we should be placing the reports side by side the alleged murder of 800 Fulanis in Taraba, as well as the scores of innocent Fulanis killed in Southern Kaduna, around April 2011, as a fallout of the election violence of that year. Those Fulani were said to be on their way back from the South, where they had gone to graze their animals during the dry season. They were actually said to be heading out of the country. Story story…
But the story now is that these Fulani, who are said to have the legendary memory of the elephant, have returned for payback time. And our leaders, who we pay to protect us, are folding their arms and looking the other way as the crudest of the Fulani stock dispense crude justice. Tell me another story!
In fact, I feel insulted when we are reminded that the Fulani never forget or forgive a bad turn. That, even if it takes them a hundred years, they would always take back their pound of flesh – usually with a few drops of blood. That, if the man who is offended is unable to avenge a hurt, he’d pass vengeance on to his children and his children’s children. It would be passed from generation to generation until acceptable reprisal is exerted. In other words, if you (or your ancestors) offended Khalifa Uthman Dan Fodio (even if your ‘offence’ was just defending your territory and preventing his rampaging jihadists from over-running your land), you still cannot afford to sleep with both eyes, more than 200 years later.
If you doubt this fact, take some time to read over the charges the spokespersons of Fulani National Movement (FUNAM) reeled out against the people of Benue State again, and you’d get the drift.
“We notice the recalcitrant culture of the Tiv people, as demonstrated even during the 1804 jihad when they obstructed our ordained conquest of Nigeria.”
One Badu Salisu Ahmadu, national president of FUNAM, who is also the Umar Amir Shehu, signed the statement.
Simply put, it means more trouble to come. That is why I fear for Taraba over the alleged 800 dead Fulani, since it is only 25 Tarabans that have been killed just yet. That means, there are still 775 more to kill before the Fulani get even. God forbid.
Unfortunately, the body language from Abuja is not encouraging. Everybody seems to be justifying this weakness of the Fulani to hold historical grudge as strength.
The narrative is constant, “I ask you, in the name of God, to accommodate your countrymen … I am appealing to you to try to restrain your people,” PMB had admonished Benue leaders and elders who visited him during the week.
Nobody seems to be telling the herders to respect the laws of their host communities.
What we don’t know is that the Tiv are just as stubborn as the Fulani are unforgiving. So, there is no amount of killing that would make the Benue people do what they do not want to do. It is a stubbornness that runs through most of the minority tribes of the North – be they Berom, Jukun, Kuteb, Tiv or whatever. They are usually ready to fight to the last man.
However, I am only happy that we are now beginning to tell ourselves the truth: that many of the herders visiting several parts of the country with mayhem and murder are Fulani.
What seems to be annoying the several millions of other law-abiding, peace-loving Fulani in Nigeria is that the rest of us have used the criminality of a few thousand Bororo to characterise the nearly 20 million (some extremists swear they’re less than six million) Fulani in Nigeria.
But who can blame us? When the otherwise right-thinking Fulanis seem to be up in arms defending the indefensible; reminding us about how every attack by the Bororo is a reprisal against an earlier attack, which never got reported because the media and the rest of the country nationally agreed to cover it up.
I am also not sold on the Islamisation narrative in all these. For the nomadic Fulani (the Bororo in particular) is more of a voodooist and animist than Muslim. He hardly fasts during Ramadan, you’re not likely to catch him praying five times a day, and he can hardly recite any verse of the Quran. If you stumbled on those temporary settlements he sets up in the middle of uncharted forests (as we often did while growing up in remote Kwara/Niger axis in those days), you’d never see any makeshift mosque/praying area marked out with stones. Rather, you’re likely to sneak up on him pants down and jerking off on the hind of his cow, ram or goat. Which is why the local maternity in the area where I grew up had plenty documented cases of Bororo women giving birth to half-goat, half-human monsters, et cetera, and those are the cases that even came to the hospital in the first place. So, the Bororo’s way of life is everything Islam is not. Unfortunately, we can’t run away from the fact that he is Fulani. And until the Fulani of Nigeria, who are in the commanding heights of the Nigerian enterprise today, resolve to stop using these Bororo for their dirty political jobs, so long shall every Fulani in Nigeria stand accused for the bloodbath in the country.
Until such a time when the genuine Fulani leaders of Nigeria move to honestly police our land borders and check the influx of these nomads from Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Niger, et cetera, into Nigeria (to swell our census figures), so long shall the likes of Buhari and other prominent Fulani be held responsible for the mass murder being committed by these herdsmen. For so long would the rest of us believe that these herdsmen are emboldened by the fact that ‘their man’ is in power and they can get away with anything – including mass murder and genocide.
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