Nigeria, Fulani Herdsmen, a Pentecostal Christian Preacher and an Opposition Governor
Again and again, the Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government has captained from the rear, leaving the management of issues and situations affecting Nigerians to chance and random exploitation.
OVER the years in Nigeria, there have been sporadic cases, albeit frequent cases, of clashes between nomadic Fulani herdsmen and host communities in different parts of the country.
These clashes happen whenever the nomadic herdsmen, from the north of the country and beyond the Nigerian borders, travel through communities where their cattle interrupt the urban way of life there with a trail of dirt and damage in these towns, villages and farming communities.
The members of these communities then react to the situation in justified opprobrium and clashes erupt, where the usually well-armed and hardy nomadic cattlemen enjoy an upper-hand that help them obliterate the communities, leaving behind them a scene reminiscent of what the late Nigerian Afrobeat legend once described in his music as “sorrow, tears and blood.”
Where the government should swing into action to investigate and prosecute the criminal acts in these flare-ups, it does nothing. Meanwhile injuries fester and metastasize into into full-blown hatred as, in communities after communities, the nomads go unchallenged, wreaking havoc on farmsteads and killing the locals for daring to challenge the former’s reckless encroachment.
Enter the saviors, both genuine and opportunist, who lament the horrific experience of these communities at the hands of rampaging herdsmen. This includes a certain John Suleman, who fancies himself an “apostle” of the Pentecost Christian faith. In recent days, he exhorted his audience not only to defend themselves against the Fulani herdsmen whom he alleges are after him, but to also kill any Fulani they see in their surroundings.
Yes, kill any person of Fulani heritage, he said.
The video of his violent exhortation naturally gained wide attention on the Internet and in the streets, with many hailing Suleman for his exhortation while others simply condemned him for this call to visit violence on every Fulani they encounter in their domain, without sparing a thought for the innocent among them.
[John Suleman himself, never mind his Hausa-Fulani-sounding last name, save his dark complexion, actually has the frame and appearances of a Fulani, who are generally of a lean, tall frame. Not that it means anything; it is just a random thought].
In any case, the half-balding Suleman was in south-western Ekiti State the other night, as part of a religious event, where he was reportedly sought by agents of the federal security outfit otherwise known as the Department of State Services, acronymed DSS, no doubt in relation to his recent pronouncements regarding the herdsmen. Mr. Suleman reportedly resisted attempts to have him arrested by the federal agents — or so he stated in a video making the rounds on social media this morning.
Enter controversial Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, who for the second time in recent months, took it upon himself as the chief executive and the constitutional chief security officer of the state, to rescue a citizen from agents of a federal security agency whose constitutional powers overarches the governor’s.
Depending on the way you see it, Governor Fayose is either flouting and undermining the law and authority of the federal government [and thereby open to prosecution absent gubernatorial immunity] or he is using his powers and influence as governor to protect the rights and dignity of a fellow citizen.
The federal government on the other hand is either being duplicitous in its secretive approach to the matter of apprehending the preacher, or carrying out its constitutional role, through the DSS, of acting to apprehend persons who it considers a threat to state security.
Either way, Nigerians, both out of natural concern for fairness and out of political mischief, would ask of this same federal authorities, where it was when communities after communities were plundered and incinerated by lawless nomads who brimmed at the effrontery of these communities to protest how the latter rode roughshod through their lands.
This the kind of clusterfuck that happens when a leadership fails to act to nip a situation in the bud. Again, and again and again, the Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government has captained from the rear, leaving the management of issues and situations affecting Nigerians to chance and random exploitation.
Ìlú tí ò l’ófin ò l’ésè, the Yorùbá would say, meaning, ‘A society without laws, or where laws are not enforced, is open to unhinged lawlessness.’
Nigeria is in many ways the very definition of a lawless society. From Kaduna to Ekiti and Anambra, lawlessness manifests in various forms across the land. From the scourge of violent neighboring communities, to the call of a self-appointed apostle calling for mass murder, as well as the antics of an African ‘Robin Hood’ governor, you have it all.
Above all of this is the irresponsibility of central government authority in Abuja, who is the absent cat that leaves the perimeter for rats and other rodents to roam aimlessly.
Let the truth be told: so far, President Buhari is a disappointment in power. There are easy pickings everywhere for him to burnish his image and project a favorable image of a strong government under his command. But it fails in matters as simple as managing information and communicating its actions and intentions to the population. But then again, where there is little in action or plan to communicate, you can’t blame the dearth in communication, much less the sophistication in the approach to communicating.
Even more unnerving is the case of our well-read, exposed and personable Professor-as-Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. We hope Mr. Osinbajo would find the courage and honor to hand-in his resignation as soon as he is able to determine without an iota of doubt that the government he supports as the Number Two Man has little interest or motivation in leading Nigeria to a better place. This, he may have to do, before he is dragged down with those without vision or purpose in leadership, and lose his hard-earned name at home in Yorubaland in the process.
Back to the issue at hand, the Nigerian federal government owes itself and the people it governs the responsibility of ensuring the safety and well-being of all its citizens wherever they be. Otherwise, it has no business pretending to manage the affairs of the people. As it was the case with other Nigerian leaderships, the Buhari Administration will be held accountable for the lawlessness gaining a foothold in the land, whether such lawlessness manifests in the form of a preacher foaming at the mouth with hate, or as a governor exploiting a situation for cheap publicity, or through the actions of rampaging gangs of murderous nomads anywhere in the country.