FEATURE ARTICLE

Wednesday, February 17, 2021
foborji@hotmail.com
Pontifical Urban University, Vatican City (Rome)
FIGHTING HERDSMEN TERRORISM IS NOT "STOKING ETHNIC-HATRED" (PART 1)

he trending WhatsApp taped message of the journalist Kadaria Ahmed, her indictment of her fellow Nigerian Journalists and the Media, is for me, to say the least, the most disappointing thing, I have ever heard from a journalist of her calibre in recent times, put forward for public consumption. The popular journalist from the Northern Nigeria Sharia State of Zamfara, is indicting her fellow Nigerian journalists, especially, from the Southern parts of the country, for reporting and condemning the ravaging herdsmen menace in their ancestral land! She is accusing the Nigeria media, of which she is a part of, of trying to promote what she calls, 'ethnic-profiling and ethnic-wars' in the country. But, is this really true?

The other day, it was the Presidential spokesperson Malam Garba Shehu, who, in his usual characteristic manner, came out at the open to attack and accuse all those condemning the ravaging herdsmen terrorism in their forests and towns in Southern Nigeria as "stoking ethnic-hatred and tension" in the country.

In other words, for Garba Shehu and his sister Kadaria Ahmed, anyone found speaking against the ravaging herdsmen terrorism in the land, is 'stoking ethnic-hatred and promoting ethnic-wars?' Interesting to observe how none of these two journalists from Northern Nigeria, Garba Shehu and Kadaria Ahmend, did not see anything bad on what people have been experiencing at the hands of their Northern kinsmen killer-herdsmen! The interest of the two journalists, Garba Shehu and Kadaria Ahmed, rather, is the welfare and safety of the killer-herdsmen, how to give them freehand to take over the forests and farmlands of the indigenous ethnic-communities in the Southern and Middle belt regions of Nigeria! The cries of the natives over the criminal activities of these killer-herdsmen mean nothing to the likes of Garba Shehu and Kadaria Ahmed! What a country?

Mind you, most of these killer-herdsmen have taken over the farmlands and forests of the indigenous ethnic-communities of the Southern and Middle Belt states of the country and made them places of their abode, from where they operate and carry out their criminal activities in the neighbourhood. And when people complain against this unfortunate phenomenon happening in their locality, voice out their disappointment over Presidency's seemingly silence of complicity in the whole matter, the Presidency itself, and some prominent Northern politicians, elites and journalists like Garba Shehu and Kadaria Ahmed, would say, such concerned individuals lamenting over herdsmen terrorism, are 'stoking ethnic-hatred' and promoting 'ethnic-wars and ethnic-profiling'? What a deceit of the devil?

It is in the light of this, that I wish to make a brief 'rejoinder' in the present article, to the above statements accredited to the two journalists, Garba Shehu and Kadaria Ahmed. The article is divided into two parts. This part 1 of the article focuses on Malam Garba Shehu's statement, that those reacting against the terrorist activities of the killer-herdsmen in Southern and Middle regions of the country, are 'stoking ethnic-hatred and ethnic-tension. In Part 2 of the article (to be published later), we shall discus Kadaria Ahmed's 'ill-fated' message to her fellow Nigerian journalists and media on the same matter.

Fighting Herdsmen Terrorism is NOT 'Stoking Ethnic-Hatred'

Fighting 'herdsmen terrorism' is not stoking ethnic-hatred or anything of sort. Therefore, before anyone deceives the public again, on this most important matter, it is necessary, we take note of the following:

1) Those shielding and protecting the killer-herdsmen are the ones 'stoking ethnic-hatred and ethnic-tension among Nigerians.' This is the truth of the matter!

2) Whoever that is shielding and protecting these killer-herdsmen, bandits and kidnappers from being arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned, is the person stoking ethnic-hatred and instigating another civil war in Nigeria. Such a person or group of persons, are the ones stoking ethnic hatred and ethnic tension among Nigerians! Period!

3) Whoever that is shielding and protecting these terrorist killer-herdsmen, bandits and kidnappers - criminal killer-herdsmen, hiding in the farmlands and forests of indigenous ethnic-communities in Southern and Middle Belt regions of Nigeria, disguised as cattle herders, from being flushed out of the forests, is the one stoking ethnic-hatred and instigating ethnic-wars in Nigeria!

Yes, today, as never before, there appears to be a growing awareness among peoples of different ethnic-communities in the Southern and Middle Belt regions of the country, about the heinous criminal and terrorist activities of these so-called herdsmen. The growing reactions of disapproval of the indigenous ethnic-communities in the Southern and Middle Belt regions against the criminal and terrorist activities of these marauding killer-herdsmen, should be hailed as patriotic and not 'stoking ethnic-hatred or calling for wars.'

Today, as never before, some concerned individuals and groups are beginning to speak up against the criminal activities of the marauding killer-herdsmen and the lackadaisical and incompetent manner the present federal government has been handling this most important issue of security of lives and property threatening the land. All these years, since this regime at Aso Rock, Abuja came to power in 2015, the people, especially, victims of the herdsmen terrorism in the Middle Belt and Southern states have been crying out and calling on the federal government and security agencies to come to their aid, but all to no avail.

In fact, the federal government's non-challant attitude over this matter tells us two things about the mindset of the people piloting the affairs of Nigeria today. It is ether the government itself does not understand the gravity of the problem at hand, or the government is part, and parcel of the herdsmen politics in the country, and therefore, complicit in the whole matter. The non-challant manner the present administration has been handling the issue of security of lives and property of ordinary Nigerian citizens when it comes to the issues of herdsmen terrorism, is the bone of contention. This is what is at stake, and not ethnic-hatred or ethnic-war mongering.

Thousands of innocent Nigerians have been killed by these terrorist killer-herdsmen and bandits across the country in the last five years alone. This is in addition to the victims of yet, the other deadly Islamist terrorist groups, Boko Haram and ISWAP, ravaging the ancestral lands of indigenous ethnic-communities in the North East zone of the country. People in the Southern and Middle Belt regions, in particular, have cried and appealed, time without number, to the President of the nation and his administration to come to their aid and rescue, provide them with security of lives and property, which are the basic functions of any government worth its salt. Unfortunately, the administration has been paying lip service, and playing hanky panky over this most important issue of security of lives and property of ordinary citizens of Nigeria. This is the crux of the matter!

Today, therefore, and with the herdsmen terrorism and insurgency reaching unbearable crescendo, people have grown impatient with the incompetence and seemingly complicity of the present administration on the matter. Therefore, Nigerian people, especially, from the Southern and Middle Belt regions of the country, are now beginning to rise up to defend themselves and their ancestral lands from the terrorist attacks and killings perpetuated by these Fulani killer-herdsmen. Many Nigerians are saying today, "Enough is enough." 'We are tired of living under the constant reign of herdsmen terrorism in our own ancestral land!' This is what is happening. This is not ethnic-hatred or calling for war, but rather a duty one owes to his or her ancestral land and suffering people.

In fact, the reasons for the people's reactions are simple. They include, and not only, the following:

a) Those who are supposed to have called to order, and deal decisively with the marauding Fulani killer-herdsmen terrorism, have all these while, refused to act in a manner that is decisive!

b) Thousands of innocent Nigerian citizens of Southern and Middle Belt regions of the country, as well as the non-Fulani Northern minorities, have been killed, their towns and villages and farmlands destroyed, and their women and daughters raped by the dreaded killer-herdsmen, bandits and other Islamist terrorist groups operating from Northern Nigeria. This unfortunate scenario assumed an unprecedented crescendo throughout the land, especially, in the Southern and Middle Belt regions, in the last five years alone, that is, since the present regime came to power in 2015. Yet, the federal government and its security officials have not for once, arrested, prosecuted or imprisoned any of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes against humanity going on in Nigeria today?

c) Killer-herdsmen and bandits, under the watch of the present administration, and sponsorship of Miyetti-Alla Fulani Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, have been terrorizing Christians and indigenous ethnic-communities across the land for the past five years now, killing, destroying farmlands, raping women and kidnapping people with reckless abandon, while the government and security operatives looked elsewhere!

The question is: "Since the present federal government, is practically doing nothing substantially tangible, to protect the lives and property of ordinary Nigerian citizens from attacks and killing spree of the marauding killer-herdsmen and bandits, have the indigenous ethnic-communities no right to defend themselves from the killer-herdsmen and bandits?" After all, self-defence is recognized in all the known laws, including that of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the UN.

The indigenous peoples have the inalienable rights for self-defence and for self-determination of how they want to govern themselves as distinct people, and protect their ancestral lands. These rights of the indigenous peoples are recognized in all the known international, continental, regional and national laws, including that of the UN, African Union Charter, ECOWAS, and even the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

d) What the Aso Rock Presidency, therefore, is referring to, and is calling, "stoking ethnic hatred among Nigerians", is nothing but the attempts of some indigenous ethnic-communities in Southern and Middle Belt regions of the country, to defend themselves and flush out the terrorists and criminal killer-herdsmen from their forests, where these terrorists are hiding. That is, from where they have taken their abode, operate and carry out their heinous criminal activities, disguised as cattle herders, but in reality, are criminals and terrorists.

The struggle for survival from herdsmen terrorism and Northern domination in Nigeria, by the indigenous ethnic-communities of the Southern and Middle Belt regions, is what Aso Rock Presidency handlers are calling, "stoking ethnic-hatred and instigating wars." What a deception?

Therefore, if the Aso Rock Presidency wants to be sincere with itself, and to Nigerians in general, the administration must come clean on this matter and call a spade a spade. Only truth can save Nigerian people and the land, as far as this matter is concerned!

In other words, for the Presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu and other handlers of the Aso Rock Presidency, to say that "they are going to deal with anyone stoking ethnic hatred among Nigerians", in a matter that is simply, a popular reaction against herdsmen terrorism, is nothing but the Presidency's usual way of intimidating the poor masses of Nigeria. It is the Presidency's usual tactics of creating atmosphere of fear, and using lies and deception, to suppress the truth and people's legitimate reaction against herdsmen terrorism, just to deceive the gullible public. The primary objective of which, of course, is to send a wrong message out there, so that the marauding killer-herdsmen and bandits will continue with their business as usual - terrorist attacks and killings across the land, unmolested. 'Who is fooling who?'

Because, if at all there is 'ethnic tension' in Nigeria today, as the Presidency wants us to believe, such an ethnic tension, is caused by no other person than the Presidency itself, its style of governance. In other words, as things are today in the country, 'the President and his team of collaborators', are part, and parcel of the problem with Nigeria. The administration has become a serious problem and biggest burden to majority of Nigerians today. Nothing more, nothing less!

In fact, if there is any ethnic tension (or renewed ethnic-hatred) in Nigeria today, it is as a result of no other factor, than the following:

"The lust for power and domination of others by the North and Fulani herdsmen terrorism, is the only thing 'stoking ethnic-hatred and ethnic tension in Nigeria.' It is the only thing threatening the unity and peace of Nigeria. It is also the only thing that, if not arrested now, may bring about the final dead nail on Nigeria, and not the agitation for Biafra or Oduduwa independence, or any other thing of that sort. #ENDSARS protests is not also the problem with Nigeria. The problem with the Nigerian state is herdsmen terrorism and the continued lust for power and domination of other ethnic-nationalities in the country by the Northern Oligarchy."

The lust for power and domination by the North and herdsmen terrorism, are the only ethnic tension and ethnic-hatred ravaging Nigeria today. This is what the present administration should address! The regime should stop threatening the over-traumatized citizens of the Indigenous ethnic populations of Southern and Middle Belt regions of the country with the government's usual invocation of fear and intimidation, or playing of ethnic card and sentiments, in a matter that is purely and squarely, the failure of leadership over security of lives and property of ordinary Nigerian citizens.

In fact, any sign of ethnic-hatred or tension you see in the streets and towns of Nigeria today, is caused primarily, by the above two factors: "Lust for power and domination of others by the North and herdsmen terrorism!"

These are the causes of the prevalent culture of nepotism and lopsided style of governance of the present federal government of Maj Gen Muhammadu Buhari. It is also the cause of the regime's rooting disposition towards suppression of press freedom, freedom of peaceful assembly and protests, as well as the regime's constant enactment of laws aimed at religious persecutions of Christians and indigenous-ethnic populations of the country.

They are the driven-force of the administration's well-known Islamization and Fulanization agenda of Nigeria, of which the herdsmen terrorism and Miyetti-Alla, sponsors of the killer-herdsmen (their foot-soldiers), and other radical Muslim mercenaries' insurgency pervading the country today, are just the public face and manifestations of that ugly phenomenon.

The Way-out

The issue of ethnic-hatred and ethnic-profiling must be located where it belongs. The herdsmen terrorism and the lust for power and domination of others by the North - the ethno-religious-driven agenda of the present federal government, is the problem. This is the truth of the matter!

The regime's recruitment of killer-herdsmen terrorism and Miyetti Allah as foot-soldiers, for its Islamization and Fulanization agenda of Nigeria, is the problem. Period!

This means that the problem with Nigeria must be located where it belongs: The problem with Nigeria is herdsmen terrorism and the present federal government's complicity.

In other words, it is not enough to call for flushing out the killer-herdsmen from the forests of indigenous ethnic-communities in the Southern and Middle Belt regions of Nigeria where they are hiding and from where they operate as they carry out their criminal and terrorist activities. Flushing out the killer-herdsmen from the forests, is only the beginning of the struggle. Because, the bigger problem we have to deal with, is the federal government itself, the leadership behind the killer-herdsmen terrorism in the land?

The bigger problem, is how to get rid of the present class of political leaders and their system of feudal and lopsided leadership that are behind the present reign of killer-herdsmen terrorism over and above the welfare and security of lives and property of the indigenous ethnic-communities in Nigeria. This is a question of how do we respond to the present struggle of different Nigeria's indigenous ethnic-communities for human survival in their own ancestral lands, in the face of the pervading herdsmen terrorism and political system and leadership that favours such man's inhumanity to fellow man.

The whole issue boils down to the question of lending listening ear to the growing clamour for new political system and referendum for self-determination of any federating ethnic-nationality in the country that wants to renegotiate its membership of this forced marriage of the British contraption called Nigeria. Because, as Wole Soyinka recently said, after the killer-herdsmen invaded his farm and residential home in Abeokuta in Ogun state, 'if we do not act now, and act very fast, we may find ourselves, in no distant time, slaves in our own ancestral land." God forbid!

In fact, for Soyinka, we have already been made slaves by the Nigerian state in our own ancestral lands, and as result of the herdsmen terrorism and incompetence of the federal government in tackling the security challenge decisively. "This is intolerable", according to the Nigerian born Nobel laureate in literature, Soyinka. What this means in effect, is that something urgent must be done, before it escalates into another thing else.

If the "Nigerian state and its fragile unity" is the problem, then as victims of this British contraption called Nigeria, for over 100 years now, we must summon the courage to address it, renegotiate our continued co-existence and cohabitation as a nation state of diverse ethnic-nationalities with conflicting value systems, diverse cultures, languages and religious traditions. Renegotiating such a volatile multi-cultural, multi-religious, heterogeneous colonial created nation state as Nigeria, is a duty that must be done. It is a duty that expects the constituent ethnic-nationalities, before it is too late.

This is common sense. Otherwise, it will be too late very soon. Because, as Soyinka also noted, the powers that be, those behind the herdsmen terrorism in Nigeria "have brought war to our door steps." There arises the need, therefore, to address the situation, and find a modus operandi to wage and stop that war and terrorism before it consumes all of us.

Conclusion

As victims, we have the obligation to have a second look on the fragile Nigeria state we inherited from our colonial masters, British. This will help us to save our ancestral land and people from the impending doom. This is the crux of the matter. It is the bitter truth, which as citizens and at the same time, victims of the Nigerian state, we must not shy away from, but must confront it from its roots, head on.

In fact, it beats the imagination of whoever cares to know, that in spite of the continued terrorist attacks and killings perpetuated by Fulani killer-herdsmen, bandits, kidnappers, and even their cousins - Boko Haram and ISWAP Islamist terrorists operating in the North East, none of these terrorists has been arrested, prosecuted or imprisoned by the present administration and security operatives!

Therefore, 'Whoever that is shielding and protecting these terrorists from being arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned, is the person 'stoking ethnic-hatred and instigating war in the land.' Such a person is the one doing the 'ethnic-profiling' and instigating 'ethnic-conflicts' in Nigeria. Such a person or regime is the problem with Nigeria!' Nothing more, nothing less.

CONCLUDED ON PART 2

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