Painful Transition: Southwest chameleons from Grace to Grass and the Rise of Terrorism.
A Yoruba proverb says that a man who does not know where the rain began to beat him cannot say where he dried his body.
One pressing questions that demands immediate answer is how do Yoruba, the cradle of civilization in all human and material resources get to this worst stage of its existence.
When other regions boils, Southwest territory has always been a safe haven and this was bear on its early development and exposure to education.
Yoruba-speaking state had embraced and imbued with exceptional value but unfortunately, the rain that beat our once pride region began about six to seven years ago, It was the politicians who created these mess we are in today over lack of foresight. In order to fixate to power for long and seal tight their political dominance, Yoruba-speaking governors and their collaborators amongst kings, political leaders began demolition of our value system “ Omoluabi” and our pride, “education” instead of building a pride society, they short change development for accumulations of wealth and political relevance. From local government chairmen, state and national assembly legislators, down to governors, they all became emperor leader. They abandoned development agenda of southwest for self aggrandizement, thereby siphoning public wealth.
Our once pride region which worked and produced many firsts, not only in Nigeria but in Africa, has continued to take least position in all index of development from education, investment, security and many more.
In 2015, Nigeria was ranked number third as the worst terrorism ravaged country by the Global Terrorism Index, just below other havens of instability Afghanistan, Somalia, and Iraq. And the 2017 U.S. Department of State report on Country Reports on Terrorism 2017 says though there are geometric drops in the number of people killed by boko-haram, it affirmed that in recent time, the number of people killed by banditry and Fulani herdsmen is on high increase, this is a sad not mainly because their activities is mainly centered in the south-west and some part of Eastern Nigeria but because we are yet to win one war, when facing yet another one.
And at this time, most of the world’s attention has shifted from north-west, where Boko-haram take sway to southwest, Nigeria, where a new spate of terrorism has continued to commit heinous crimes of kidnapping, rape and communal unrest through organized and systematic approach by the Fulani herdsmen and their local collaborators for resources and territory control. There is clear concerted efforts to silence the Yoruba-speaking state at all means for no discernible reason rather than this bizarre murders have identified southwest “the home of politics” with its political uniqueness attitudes, which were progressive and fearless. The bizarre murders see continuous dominance of political influence of southwest as unacceptable. The groups ultimate goal, we are told, is to “create community unrest” and “terrified unsuspecting members of public”(communal and motorists) this would enable them to achieved total silence of Yoruba people.
Unarguably, It is true that our major high ways from Ibadan to Ife, Ife to Akure, Ore to Benin, Ijebu to Ibadan, Abeokuta to Igboora, Ekiti to Akure and all villages in Ibarapa land and some other places in Yoruba land has being ransacked by these killers herdsmen. Also, it’s true that no one dare to traveled for the fear of unknown on the above listed roads once it’s four o’clock in the evening or early hour of the morning. Killing, kidnapping, rape, stealing of valuable goods and other atrocities perpetrated by this group has continued to take its toll on people of Yoruba land. If farmers, market women, artisans and motorists were not consumed by fear of abduction or armed robbery, they were frightened that they have either refused to come to their places of work or reported only for a few hours and then left before the closing time.
In recent time, over one hundred heinous crime such as wanton killing, kidnapping, rape and stealing mainly in Southern Western Nigeria, have been attributed to the deadliest Fulani herdsmen since their atrocities began about four years ago or so. The genesis of this unacceptable crime began immediately after 2015 general election, although, there has always been pocket of conflict, disagreement and inescapable fight between farmer and genuine Fulani herdsmen over land trespassing, grazing of farmland and it has never for once gotten to this frighten stage, but unfortunately, the fight has taken a new dimension where the collective peace enjoyed by the good people of Yoruba land and freedom of movement are being treating.
In similar vein, the dawn of these atrocities centered mainly in the Western and Eastern Nigeria, are being perpetrated by the imported/ foreign Fulani (as reported by the media, or we are told to believe) has caused a bit of unrest and if lasting solution is not find to address this sinister move towards silence of the Yoruba and to curtail it’s widespread across other villages and town of Yoruba land, then there is danger in the horizon and sooner or later, it may consume not only the Yoruba’s or the Igbo’s but the whole country.
Yoruba in nature, of all other tribes that made up the geographical space called Nigeria, are the most tolerant, accommodating and peaceful tribe.
How do we fortified our land off terrorism? What do we need to do to bring an end to organized inter ethnic war ?
Firstly, the Yoruba leader must take affirmative action after the security summit held at Ibadan, It must became crystal clear to “the disturber of peace” that they were engaged in a losing battle, hence, the need to vacate Yoruba land.
While on the question of how do we fish out the bad eggs amongst the Fulani without harming or endangered life’s of the innocent men and women of Hausa-Fulani origins going about their normal business peacefully.
Now, at this stage, I would suggest the Yoruba council of Obas mandated each king and chief across villages and towns under their council to convene a meeting with genuine Fulani’s and Hausa’s leaders in their respective locality and mandated them to provide comprehensive list of the men and women within their locality to enabled government issue registration numbers or any form of identification for easily identifications, this would enable the government to smoke out this bad elements amongst us and fortified our land off evils.
Also, such meetings would bridge understanding amongst the Fulani-Hausa communities and their host community to conduct themselves peacefully to peace and mutual understanding.
However, it must became crystal clear that we needed to fight this new enemy terrorizing our domain with everything at our disposal. Most important, the southwest governors under the Development Agenda of Southwest Nigeria (Dawn) needed to establish formidable, highly disciplined security apparatus under public private partnership that can often outperformed the entire security architecture of federal government in regional defense of southwest, this is increasingly important to address this war.
There is no gainsay, federal government has turned a blind eye to waves of ferocious and savage massacres of its citizens mainly Southerners; mostly Yoruba, Igbos or indigenes of the Middle Belt especially Benue and Taraba and others by the Fulani herders.
Even in cases where their hands were found dripping in blood, the perpetrators have many a time evaded capture and punishment. Nigeria has been doomed to witness endless cycles of inter-ethnic, inter-religious violence because the Nigerian government has failed woefully to enforce laws protecting its citizens from wanton killings, particularly attacks against unsuspecting member of public by various group massacring innocent life.
Now, is the time to meticulously galvanizing political support across the country towards establishment of state policing.
To fight this enemy, Yoruba state governors must galvanized support and institute legal frameworks towards establishment of cattle ranches, this effort would provide a steady stream of revenue to the government and at the same time put an end to the perennial inescapable feud between farmers and herdsmen putting a stop to open grazing.
Then came the question: Why don’t the people fight back? This is why the government of Southwest state must take collective action, it’s not enough to organized summit, ordinary people that are feeling the heat of this ferocious attack needs more than assurance ftom Yoruba leaders that they are on top of this game, if not, it won’t take longer time when people would take law onto their hands and resist any forms of agitations against self-help, It has happened before in the past, often by jungle justice, stiff penalties in the form of Agbekoya to the disturbers of the peace.
A meaningful solution will require the goodwill, cooperation and concerted efforts on the part of Fulani- Hausa leaders of thought who transact business in Yoruba land and who share the weight of heinous burden.
How can we ensure even and sustained this development after the war might have won?
First, we have to nurture and strengthen our democratic institutions, especially the state assembly to pass into law a bill that would put to an end open grazing across Yoruba land and strive for the protection of farmers while protecting the right to cattle ranches to promote rearing of cows in a modern way. That will place the genuine Fulani herdsmen and their host community to thrive and put to an end inescapable feud often flourish under open grazing system.
If this continues, it could lead to economic and resources starvation as farmer would have no choice than to abandon their farms to safety. Therefore, we must create a balance, where the owner of the house does not have to abandon his/her house for a visitor, let live together in peace.
By Adediji AbdulWasiu Adeshina
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