December 3, 2022

INSECURITY: How Obasanjo Plan to Set Nigeria on Fire?

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By Shola Akingboye
Will Obasanjo write a letter on Odi and Zaki-Biam’s people massacre?

A northern friend in an argument of tolerance and intolerance of one another in Nigeria recently reminisced on how businesses of our Igbo brothers from the South-east were protected in the aftermath of the Nigerian three years Civil War, and I was quick to join in the remembrance foray of how the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo equally ensured that all the Igbo business concerns in the South-west kept intact and returned to the owners at the end of the civil war.

 

 

But the reverse was the records from the South-south part of the country (Edo state not inclusive). Most Igbo shops, businesses, and properties looted, and some were denied access to their hard-earned wealth from that part of the country.

Obasanjo, GEJ and Yar’adua governments were always at loggerhead over blackmail letters

This analogy keeps many wondering if truly those we condemned of intolerance deserves the niche carved after them on account that, those that the people of the South-east regarded as brothers and kinsmen across the present-day Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River could do such against their long-term allies during the Civil War. This indubitable argument are there for everyone to check.

Some of us most time are forced to speak up in remembrance of where we are coming from, which could help shape where we headed though we tend not to join in ethnic talks.

But the current crises of herdsmen and ethno-religious killings around the country have exposed our weaknesses on account of emotions of our brothers, particularly from the entire south; South-west, South-east, and South-south including the Christian North-central attached to the recent RUGA settlements. This is baffling.

Many Nigerians suffer amnesia or pretend to have lost the sense of history as many recount history that set us apart from those that weaves us together as a people.

I wonder if some sadists in Nigeria want this systemic problem of arm banditry, either associated with herders menace among others continues unabated as a weapon to tag this present government failure in the glare of security test, whereas the unresolved insecurity crisis in the country is the making of every one of us.

I once asked myself, what is wrong if any governor declares his objection to the nomadism method of animal pasturing, and gains hectares of land in his state, with attendant laws enacted by state assemblies to prosecute any offenders of its territorial laws under stringent monitoring.

Will anyone faults such an Act of Parliaments on boundary demarcation and reserve zones for pasturing? Or any other related laws of the state that says, “I reject herders on my street”? Or will anyone trespass any law that sets the boundary to say, “this is where I want you to pasture your animals to end insecurity associated with nomadism crisis for God’s sake?

Such a measure would definitely be good to go, and in line with what the Benue state has done, though the Benue state equally failed in its logic to provide an alternate grazing reserve for pasturing while declared its own law; and that singular mistake gives room for suspicion and allegations of ethnic cleansing against the Fulani herders in Benue state.

The making of nomadism is a primitive system of pasturing, which our successive leaders have allowed to leave with us even up till the 21st century, even in the paradigm’s face shift against nomadism globally.

The heightened debate the RUGA issue has generated is maddening. These individuals forgot the facts; they forgot the position of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which clarified that every Nigerian deserves the right to live, transact business and practice their religion anywhere without hindrances or interference, provided you respect the culture and tradition of the aborigines.

But the wagging questions are; did herdsmen stopped anyone from practising their cultural rights and traditional religion or performs their ritual rights and anniversaries anywhere they pasture their cows for many centuries before now? And the armed banditry, kidnappings and other social vices reigning across the country are products of systemic failures bedevilling us as a people and nation.

The ineptitude and failure of governments in Nigeria to use our endowed wealth to provide economic succour to our teeming youths across the board, eliminate poverty and create employment opportunities were all the making of leadership failures by successive leaders of this country.

So, Fulanisation and Islamisation as being peddled in many quarters are mere window dressing; and bad enough, this is coming from certain individuals such as Olusegun Obasanjo, who the nation looks up to for elderly counselling in a time like this.

Agitations for oil derivation that lead to militancy in the Niger-Delta, the making of Boko Haram, thriving rituals and yahoo boys phenomenon, including the thriving business of kidnapping in some parts of South, are what many experts have blamed on the protracted unemployment and poverty levels among Nigerian youths. Lately, the herdsmen associated with banditry and kidnappings are of no exception either.

Though, the modern state and the attendant infrastructural developments across the board also did not help matters. This has in no small measure eaten up the grazing reserves in some parts of the country.

And whether we like it, Fulani herdsmen are Nigerians and also reserve the right to life and livelihood, albeit the quota of the contribution their trade contributes to the economy of this country.

These are sacred facts we all must respect.

Having not too vast with the North, it is indubitable that; the Ibos dominated Sabongari in Kano. The environment alone suggests that Kano has been a free-trade zone as another Ibo land, with 90% of the hotels in Sabongari owned by the Ibos. Same applicable to Ibo settlement somewhere in Maiduguri just for the few places I know.

I do know of many other places they called Yorubawa settlements during my journalism tour of some parts of the North. This includes a place called Lagos Street in Maiduguri.

I also lost counts of the Yoruba instituted Churches in my visits to Gombe, and I still wonder, if going by ratings, whether Hausa/Fulanis could own more businesses than the Ibos and the Yorubas in Kaduna.

Obasanjo crookedly seized the Lagos state local government budget perpetually with flagrant disobey to court ruling irrespective of how Lagosians suffered unpaid salaries and hardship.

But the outbursts by some elements among my people from southern Nigeria is that the herdsmen should be completely eradicated from the south. These individuals forgot that livestock farming is an integral part of agricultural businesses upon which many nations of the world survives.

I make- bold to conclude that, all the notorious arguments on Fulanisation and Islamisation being projected by apostles of divisions in Nigeria will lead us nowhere as a nation, and no thanks to former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s vituperation probably targeted against the government of the day.

Obasanjo, known for his antecedents as a power-drunk, and a complex individual with tastes for downgrading others in government despite his own abysmal performance in office, the events lately leaves much to be desire about Obasanjo’s make-belief nationalist and elder-statesman in pursuit of Nigeria’s unity as being touted.

On insecurity in the country, it is on record that same Olusegun Obasanjo as the President of Nigeria failed to quell the bloodsheds in the crisis between the Yorubas and the Hausa community in Sagamu. The ethnic fracas led to untoward killings and manslaughter among the age-long ethnic friends in Sagamu, with attendant reprisal loss of lives and properties in the North.

The level of damage recorded in that singular upheaval was colossal because of the ineptitude of Obasanjo in handling the ethnic crisis in the country.

Insecurity in the country was the same scenario in the genocide between the Yorubas in Ilaje communities and the Ijaw settlers in Ondo state. Hundreds of lives were lost due to the weakness and incompetence of President Obasanjo to intervene at the material time as the President of Nigeria.

To further show his weakness and lack of a solution to ethnic violence, which leads to bloodsheds situation in some parts of the country, Obasanjo flouted the necessary Rules of Engagement expected of a Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces, but could only apply military myth at his disposal and ordered soldiers to wipe out the entire people in the Odi town in Balyesa state,

It would recall how Obasanjo reinforced full military action against the Zaki Biam community in Benue state, the entire community massacred while he had earlier declared ‘shoot at sight’ against the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) in the troubled South-west.

All this occurred under Obasanjo’s despotic second coming as a democratically elected president in the 21st century.

Obasanjo’s Operation Feed the Nation’s projects metamorphosed into his expansive Otta Farms spanning many states 

The killer of the then Bola Ige, the Minister for Justice and the Attorney General for the Federation, who was a loyalist of Obasanjo, were neither brought to book, neither was the gruesome assassinators of Funsho Williams, Dipo Dina, Sekibo among other political killings were uncovered by Olusegun Obasanjo before his eight years rule over.

It was amazing, despite Obasanjo’s woeful performance on security engagement matters in his days between 1999 and 2007, he was accused of the murder of Odi and Zaki Biam communities. He later appears in a helicopter to lay a wreath at the mass burial accorded the victims of herdsmen onslaught in Benue in 2017, under the Buhari regime, which Obasanjo in his Oliver Twist style did to steal the shows to score a cheap political point against the incumbent President, who some Nigerians believe tarried in his response to the farmers/herdsmen crisis in the state.

Funnily, the disposition of the people of Benue in welcoming Olusegun Obasanjo to their state after his heinous crime against their Zaki-Biam people also leaves much to chew, yet the same people loathed the incumbent President Buhari with passion.

Obasanjo’s 1999 Odi massacre still beg for justice 20 years after

The ovations accorded Obasanjo leaves many questions unanswered if truly the Tiv in Benue hated Buhari on account of his delayed response to the onslaught of the herdsmen against farmers as make-belief, or Buhari’s religious affiliation. This is purely my opinion.

However, the ongoing Jukun/Tiv crisis in Taraba states, which were both Christian communities, is a testimony to the fact I raised above. This is on account that, none of the two tribes of Tiv and the Jukuns who have shown dislikes towards Buhari on security, Fulanisation and Islamisation grounds being the toga sold out to them by the likes of Obasanjo and Theophilus Danjuma.

In fact, not a few Nigerians would wonder what is expected of the Tiv dominated state in Benue against Olusegun Obasanjo, a Christian and who swore over his dead body he owed no one any apology over the genocide he perpetrated against the Zaki Biam dwellers among other human right abuses in the country.

But it is on record, despite the presumed lackadaisical approach of Buhari regime to things, he did not and never ordered the killings of anyone by security operatives, neither accused of any politically motivated assassinations except for the armed banditry which remains a fall out of the systemic problem the nation failed to address.

Perhaps, one would have expected the people of Benue to make good use of their historical gallantry against the Jukun, and held Obasanjo and his babanriga hostage, dragged him to graveyards of the entire community in Zaki Biam to apologize to the dead, having escaped the hands of justice at the International Criminal Court (ICC), which Nigeria failed to pursue due to barbaric ethnic colouration in our midst.

Rather, Obasanjo is allowed to steal shows from the menace of insecurity he joined hands in creating as a two-time former ruler of the Nigerian entity.

Obasanjo would rather disparage other governments after him, steals every available means writing letters and press statements that drums support for ethnic war using ethno-religion acrimonies in the land.

It is ironic that the international communities are abreast of the implications of any civil crisis in Nigeria have watched and shut their eyes in a pretence of the dangers inherent in Obasanjo’s extremism and the sardonic quest for a political upheaval in Nigeria.

The latest is his shallow Fulanisation/Islamisation contraptions sold to gullible like-minds in the country, particularly among the Christian communities.

Perhaps, can Nigerians forget so soon?

Even the UN neglected the cry for justice against Obasanjoby the killings of Zaki-Biam community in many days of the siege laid on the community by Obasanjo soldiers.

Olusegun Obasanjo, the then Military Head of State introduced Operation Feed the Nation in 1976. Hectares of lands belonging to hundreds of Nigerians were hijacked, and these later metamorphosed into his privately owned Otta Farms, which spans many states in the federation, and no one raises the alarm of land grabbing or accused the arrogant ex-president of self-enrichment against the poor masses to date.

Ironically, the unsuspecting masses not only allow the devil in Obasanjo to perpetually manipulates their intellectuals but the danger inherent in the segregational game Obasanjo is playing in the country is heightened.

It is suffixed to note that this is a country from where he (Obasanjo)has benefitted more than anyone else psychologically and in materials. But this ex-soldier man would rather fans embers of disunity whenever he does not have his ways. Some pundits even admitted that it is the fear of being probe from his ugly past by successive governments that makes him intimidate others with blackmail letters and noises to hide under the voice of opposition for self-protection.

It is so sarcastic, however, that this is the same nation Obasanjo indulges to tear apart in his make-belief elder statement without checks on him by concerns observers.

The latest of such being the anti-Fulani/Islam campaigns, and some gullible Nigerians see Obasanjo as a soothsayer, who is always in the best position to talk or write letters, though the self-effacing man sees nothing good in others except himself – for himself – and himself alone when obviously he has said nothing new from what an average person on the street debates.

Obasanjo has also developed a thick skin with a penchant for stealing shows and avenues to attack others, particularly over the systemic problems he joined in creating. Funny enough, having benefited as a condemned prisoner that was catapulted from prison to become the president in 1999 by the same Fulani-Muslim dominated North he now condemned.

Also, left for the Fulani-Muslim military junta that skewed the election in his favour in 199, Obasanjo intellectually possessed no such quality profile to rule over Nigeria as the direct beneficiary of the late Moshood Abiola’s stolen mandate among other candidates of the South-west geopolitical divide.

This same Obasanjo, in 1977, introduced FESTAC 77, brought evil idols to Nigeria from across Africa and call it Art and Culture as many pundits believe at the time; not a few Nigerians kicks that in celebrating FESTAC 77, Nigeria was “handed over to strange gods” in order to glorify them, and Obasanjo, who himself was a confirmed member of the Ogboni Fraternity (ROF) was unstoppable.

But most Nigerians went to sleep. No one says Obasanjo wanted to Orisanised (idolized) Nigeria with his fetish Ogboni tendencies. Today, Obasanjo is allowed to heat up the polity unchecked, shouting Fulanisation to Islamisation on accounts of the armed banditry he (Obasanjo) government failed to address during his tenure, particularly in his second coming with adequate funds at the time global oil revenues witnessed the biggest boom to secured Nigeria, diversify the economy, create employment and eliminate poverty among the youths.

Perhaps, this same Obasanjo, in his second coming in 1999, also re-introduced Fadama project. A project which ceded a large proportion of people’s lands for farming activities and every Nigerians embraced it.

Funnily, Fadama is the Hausa name for irrigable. The Fadama concept is an old tradition in Hausa, where flooded land is used for growing a variety of crops and small-scale irrigation.

 Among various states that have benefited from FADAMA is Ondo state in the South-west, using my state as a case study. It is recalled that about 50,000 households have enjoyed the project. Veterinary clinics, roads, small bridges and 174 kilometres of rural roads were constructed. But no one criticized the language used from the way and manner Obasanjo has misled gullible Nigerians on Rural Grazing Areas (RUGA) for a Fulani language, and call it an attempt by foreigners to invade other people’s territory within the same country.

Today, this acclaimed soldier- turned farmer incites farmers against fellow farmers, turns Nigerians Christians against fellow Muslims using Islamisation of the country to drive home the dangerous path, pitching the South against the North, yet the global community with more than hundreds of embassies in Nigeria watches these with kin-interest until matters get out of hands before calling the NATO, God forbid.

Without prejudice to herdsmen attacks in the country rather, it is high time all of us wake up to the reality that we have a systemic problem created over the years at hand to solve, and head or tail it will only come castigating no government or individuals.

I want to believe RUGA or any policy of government introduced in its replacements, is one of those measures we must all sit around the table to discuss how best we can get the herdsmen off the street, particularly to embrace the modern way of livestock farming. It is prime time Nigeria join the committee of the advanced nation in doing things, rather than allowing unnecessary emotions to rule over our sense of reasoning as a people.

I recall how Oladipo Diya, as the then Ogun state Military Governor, in his bid to eradicate indiscriminate roadside Motor-mechanics, acquired hectares of land across the state and call it Mechanic Villages. This measure as a matter of facts did completely eradicated auto-mobile workshops from Ogun state metropolis. To date, these Mechanic Villages exists and people find the best auto-engineers in these places which equally helped in eradicating untrained roadside mechanics.

What stops us if governors get rid of herdsmen from the street through this measure; call it RUGA, Kara or what have you in your native language, who cares? Provided the menace associated with herders-farmers is challenged by all? 

I also recall it was Governor Babatunde Fashola in his bid to eradicate the menace of arms-begging in Lagos state moved these individuals back to their various states, including those from Yoruba states of Oyo, Ogbomoso, North, etc.

But it was only Governor Peter Obi, the then Anambra Governor who politicized the matter. He was quick to challenge the policy and turned it into an ethnic agenda. He incited my Ibo brothers against Fashola and Lagos state, citing what the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria says about nationalities, free-living and freedom to associate everywhere in Nigeria. Alas! He won. Fashola was defeated and apologized.

But it baffles that many among our Ibo brothers, who hailed the action of Peter Obi against Fashola, including the Ohaneze of this world now joined their cohorts in the South-west, South-south in calling for the total eradication of herdsmen from the South.

The big question; What is the people’s definition of nationality as the team up against the herders’ heathens on account that the incumbent president is a Fulani man?

Beating around the systemic related problems with the menace of herders will not help all of us, it would rather allow for a further division when follows the likes of Olusegun Obasanjo, who in his days failed woefully in solving the insecurity situation we battle today.

The need to join hands with the government in finding a lasting solution out of troubles that predates the present administration is now 

In the words of Pastor WF Kumuyi, he said on a quote:

“All killings are bad, reprehensible and condemnable. But it shouldn’t be deliberately turned into an ethno-religious propaganda tool for mischievous political ends.”

“There are certain persons or groups who would rather have the country go up in flames than to have the country focusing on how much they stole and ruined the country.”

“These killings benefit only them. We don’t fall for their antics”.

Shola Akingboye is a journalist and political analyst – based in Abuja and can be reached via @AkingboyeSola, solaomosola@gmail.com or 2348138323101

 

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