Where one or two Fulanis are ...?Written by Prince Charles Dickson
These beans are not delicious, these beans are not delicious, yet the coiffure at the occiput is shaking vigorously. (A person's actions towards a person or thing belie his or her detracting comments; if one claims to dislike something or someone, one's actions should not say the opposite.)
Let me start with this riddle: A man was selling his goat, and another man agreed to buy it. The man is using his last money to buy the goat but as soon as he brought the money out to pay for the goat, the goat jumped and snatched the money from his hands and chewed all. Who owns the goat? The buyer or the seller... In far away Delta, Fulani herdsmen were caught with arms, they have been known to attack in Ibadan, in Kwara, in Taraba, Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, parts of Kogi, Katsina, in Zamfara, border towns and villages in far flung away places like Anambra, Lagos etc.
In recent weeks, it has got worse. Ask those in Taraba, ask those in Benue, also in Zamfara, in Plateau it is case as usual in Beromland and lately the Tarokh axis.
The frequency has become scary and worrisome melting into both ethnic and religious hot pond. Who are these Fulani herdsmen, my DSS friend Kuni tells me "there's nothing like Fulani herdsmen, these are well trained militia men, you need to see the arms, combat readiness, and well kited military uniforms that these people come in...” Samaila on the other hand disagrees, "They are fulanis, it is part of a planned Jihad, but they will fail, we are ready for them.” The media is torn against itself and ethics, on one hand it’s the Fulani herdsmen, on the other "unknown gunmen", in between we hear of “cattle rustlers”, and the army say they are “insurgents”. With alleged chemical warfare reports from Benue, one that no appropriate body has confirmed, and on the Plateau where we have seen villages raided over-night commando style, while soldiers are awol, the question is what really is the game plan.
Yet in Bokkos, loads of Fulani live peacefully, so also in many Benue villages. But can we negate the fact that the ingredients for a time bomb are in the making. Only last week former Zamfara governor Sani Yerima quoted an abridged scriptures, “where one or two Fulanis are, there is trouble.” Let me add, not only trouble but double trouble, there is tension in the air, people are filled with mob justice sentiments occasioned by poverty, public distrust and failure in governance. But wait, who are these Fulanis, what is the historical perspective, why is it that for all the intellectualism paraded or masqueraded, we have not been able to solve some of the cattle problems beyond the controversial grazing zones. How have we not answered the question of the lanky Fulani whose only strength was at display at the traditional flogging to mark his coming of age or marriage metamorphosing into the Uzi/AK-47 and chemical welding killer? Are pastoralist Fulanis same as bandits, same as terrorists? Who are the Hausa-Fulanis? Why are there no Fulanis on rampage in Sokoto, in Maidugiri, in Yobe?
Who are the cattle Fulanis, where do they come from? Governor Tanku Almakura of Nasarawa state brought a twist condemning the killing of some Fulani herdsmen by soldiers in Keana Local Government Area of the state saying that those killed were not insurgents. But wait, is Almakura not Fulani, the last time I checked we had been 'ruled' by Fulanis, what is our intelligence agency doing, are Fulanis ghost, how about the captured Fulanis, there's a long list of prominent Fulanis, and it is high time they speak. We cannot continue to have Fulanis involved in violent clashes.
There are Fulanis in Chad, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Niger and other ends of the Sahel region. They are not killing, slaughtering as is the case in Nigeria. Can the stealing of one, two or ten cows lead to such carnage or a governor's convoy being attacked ala (Gabriel) Suswan, or is it the same Nigeria where the police arrest goats when truckloads of cows belonging to Senators disappear? For now like the buyer and seller of the goat, we may engage in the analytics and semantics of why are Fulanis aggressive, how they don't forgive, and, or why nomads clash with local settlers and whose fault it is? Fact however is that these attacks are getting more vicious and deadlier, the earlier we identify the buyers and sellers of these problem the better, but for now how much longer this will continue--only time will tell.
Prince Charles Dickson