Herdsmen/farmers Imbroglio: Need to shun hypocrisy and face realities on ground
By Bashir Adefaka
We, the people, are the problem of ourselves in Nigeria. When President Donald Trump of the United States of America (USA) called us a ‘shithole’ country, I knew for real a serious, sane government of such insulted country must be alerted, which was why the summoning, by Federal Government, of American Ambassador to Nigeria to throw more light on what his home government meant by calling some African countries including Nigeria ‘shithole’ countries was in order.
I have not sat down to find out the outcome of that diplomatic meeting. But I do know that by attitudes of many Nigerian people, especially when it comes to religious, ethnic and partisan politics, considering their level of hate, pretences and hypocrisies against one another help in qualifying us as a country as ‘shithole’ country as so called now most problem-ridden President in the world – Trump. How Trump is world’s most problem ridden President fighting every supposedly weak countries until he discovered they too are super powers thereby now plunging the hitherto world’s number most powerful nation into pit of disgrace and powerlessness is not subject of discourse here. My nation Nigeria matters to me and I put my pen on paper to help put things in shape for it.
It would be expected that a people who, under a certain government of certain political party, had blamed their closing shops and running to Ghana to continue their manufacturing businesses would take advantage of a non-corrupt government in place to advance the course for a better Nigerian society.
For a people who in some four, five years back said they were risking travelling across the dangerous routes of the Sahara desert to escape into foreign land from the nothingness of their country occasioned by officially operated corruption by that same government of the past, it would be expected that they would jump at the opportunity afforded them by a more committed non-corrupt, very firm, unshaken, very highly uncompromisable government they proudly call their own in moving forward as a nation’s people.
But for clear incapacity in terms of intellectual property (or is it deliberate letting loose of sentiments, pretences and hypocrisies of highest order?), they by themselves are heating up the polity simply because they needed to make point: That the Fulani, Northerner and Muslim man in power must not be given the necessary cooperation he requires to take the glory for eventual actualization of the long anticipated greatness that successive government had pretended to want to give to Nigeria and its people since after the First Republic.
Is this how we want to continue? You say Buhari has invited, empowered and equipped his Fulani men with weapons to kill innocent Nigerians. It would have been great if you are talking based on facts. But of a surety, you have done no more than mere disfavour, not to the person or beautiful and respectful family of Buhari but, to even whatever interest you think you are serving, talk less than you would not even have the satisfaction of having accomplished any mission because, you could have only wronged your own souls by telling the kind of ‘hornbill’ lies against innocent leader, whose only offence against you, your interest and your race is because he set out to fight corruption and has rigidly insisted he will never stop to do just that.
It is therefore disappointing when religious leaders like Bishop Mattew Kukah could sit on the television (NTA) Thursday morning and reeled out all of those things that he confidently demanded from President Buhari at the beginning of his administration and reiterated same, without shame himself thinking like Pastor EO Adeboye and Pastor Tunde Bakare that Buhari is now unpopular due their calculation of his unfounded support for herdsmen killing, adding that many have even apologized to him over their attacks on his earlier demand that Buhari should not fight corruption.
It is also ungodly that respected religious leaders like Pastor EO Adeboye’s only intervention was to ask “Should we kill the farmers for herdsmen to live?” And in his own submission, Pastor Tunde Bakare said, “Herdsmen killing call to renegotiate Nigerian unity”.
As if that was not enough, National President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Samson Ayokunle looked into the eyes of Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji General Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, at an interfaith dialogue on Thursday, and said religious leaders are insincere because, according to him, they say something and do the opposite. Ayokunle even queries, “As we are seated here, how sincere are we?” The CAN President, represented, spoke reacting to the Sultan’s ordinarily undisputable, sincere submissions about the herdsmen/farmers clashes that have resulted in the killings of over 1,000 Fulani including their wives and children by the weapons now officially reported to have been provided by governments of Benue and Taraba states and killing, following that, of 34 people in Benue.
The envy of CAN leadership from the time of Ayo Oritsejafor till the present man’s time is not unconnected to Sultan’s uncomfortable disposition towards them. How can Sultan be favourably disposed to a people whose agenda in the so called Lord’s Vineyard is how to fight spiritual, psychological and even physical warfare against Islam, Muslims and Northerners of Nigeria? It is impossible! Being a very highly well exposed leader more educated practically than those so called men on the leadership of CAN, all that the Sultan can do is to persuade them to see reason from the Bible why Christians and Muslims should not fight but leave together in a United State of Nigeria in peace and harmony.
The Sultan had recalled how in June 2017 he told the Federal Government to probe the sources of weapons that people said to be herdsmen were carrying, saying there was no possibility for a herdsman herding his cows to attack, kill people and escape with his cows without him being traced to anywhere. He said Fulani herdsman is not a criminal but a person going about his economic activities herding his cows with a stick. He said if any Fulani man was carrying weapons, he should be taken as criminal, charging that the killings being talked about were handiwork of criminal elements and that those elements must be treated just as that.
Any sane listener should be calm with this statement by the Sultan but, alas! It must have angered the CAN President, who would never be cautioned by recall of his activities causing more of heats for the polity in recent times as a result of his misrepresentations of facts of occurrences. A quick example was killing of eight Muslims in Zamfara but he went ahead to tell a press conference that they were eight Christians killed by Muslims and PUNCH helped him to make it the greatest, most punching and inciting lead in front page at a time when day nearly turned night as chaos immediately loomed until Governor Abdulaziz Yari quickly addressed a press conference debunking the deliberate lies by the CAN President. Same was the Ilorin New Year attacks by hoodlums of Muslims and Christians but which his CAN Chairman in Kwara State raced to tell the press as attacks on Christians by Muslim fundamentalists.
That was the same CAN that tried to denigrate the undenigratable Nigeria’s most revered monarch and leader of over 90 million Muslims, Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar III, saying in cunning way that he says something but does the opposite. What, from my keen study of CAN’s behaviours as more of pressure groups than religious organisation, is that with exception of Anthony Cardinal Onaiyekan, its successive leaderships have lived and thrived on unconfirmed information and deliberate willfulness to spread fake, incorrect, malicious news among members of the public banking on realization that major of Nigerians (in the Southern part) are either uneducated or deeply rooted in arrogant ignorance.
As for some of us in the Christian-oriented Nigerian Press, we need to come open and tell if we have a pact with any group of individuals, locally or globally, to use the media power that we control against North, Islam and Muslims of Nigeria. If not, then, we should choose the path of justice and equity because journalism is about fairness. When the journalists, who are constitutionally empowered to carry out the business of investigation and reporting and even act as agenda setters for the government to lead their people well to safety, security and prosperity, are themselves due to their display of biases pretending as if they possess the kind of knowledge capacity and information they require to educate and enlighten the public, going by the kind of things that come from the mouths of many of them in the newsroom in times of arguments, then it will not be farfetched why Nigeria is at the state it finds itself.
It is worse when the same journalists refuse to take responsibility for the decadence that has pushed the society to where it is talking of corruption and patronage that those corrupt elements and masters enjoy from same journalists, lawyers, members of the bench and even the same masses of the Nigerian people, who agreed with President Muhammadu Buhari in the first instance that it was time to kill corruption “before corruption kills us”.
There is no reason for a Muslim Journalist to misreport Christianity or Christian Journalist to misreport Islam. There is no professionalism in a Southern Nigeria Journalist misrepresenting or choosing his own to misrepresent the North and vice versa. If we all know these, how come we deliberately either played down on the massacre – in the Mambilla plateau – of over 700 Fulani people so that today we are not only leaving out the killing of 24 Christians returning from crossover night in Rivers but also, choosing the 34 people killed in Benue for a media hype that we usually do? It has however been proven that we usually do that so that there will be no record that such killing of Fulani in Taraba and Benue ever took place.
What makes the lives of 24 Christians killed by cultists in Rivers less sacred than those of the 34 killed in Benue? What makes the 34 lives in Benue more sacred than 1,000 lives of Fulani, their wives and children lost to ‘state sponsored’ militiamen in Taraba and Benue? These are questions that journalists of the Nigerian Press must answer satisfactorily to get cleared from being named as part of the nation’s seeming protracted, complex but avoidable and surmountable problems.
On the long run, I was told by a team of about 10 opponents, who faced me alone on this topic Friday evening that their grievances were that they would not accept cattle colony proposal by the “Fulani” President. This statement would not have been pathetic if it did not come from educated people known to be managers of information. In this case, do we as a nation not need an overhauling of our information management system in the country talking of practitioners, just like Governor Nasir el-Rufai is currently doing to sanitise the education system of Kaduna State whether NUT, NLC, other sentimental religious and political opposition agree or support him or not?
The truth of their opposition was quick to reveal as the Igbo among them, carried away, unconsciously said, “That Buhari, too old man,” he called him unprintable names, “he blocked my IPOB, called them terrorists and now want land for cattle rearing in my place. No way to those foolish Fulani people! They should go to hell! Tell them that I said so!” He agitated, although he calmed a little but not thoroughly when reminded that he was already agitating based on nothing but mere hypocrisy. Who does not know where he was coming and talking from? This is the mentality that Nigerians carry all along yet they want better Nigeria, lack of which they have been objects of slavery in Libya, sex slavery in Italy and, lately, Israel could open its mouth and say all Nigerians as well as other black people should leave its land under 90 days.
Another of them said, “There is no need for Federal Government to help cattle rearers get land because it is their personal business.” But when I confronted them with many other South-located businesses the Federal Government or state governments had given enabling environment to thrive well and better, arrogance and overwhelming inferiority complex would not let them own up.
But truth is, cattle rearers are part of the contributing components of the Nigerian economy. No amount of effort government makes in giving enabling environment to make their business thrive for better profit deserves the kind of hypocrisy that we have displayed. This is a statement of fact! Nestle now situated at Shagamu Interchange was given the land as an enabling environment to thrive and help create jobs for Ogun State people during the administration of Otunba Gbenga Daniel. The Federal Government, I have investigated, inherited herdsmen/farmers clashes and decided to take holistic measures to end the clashes. It went ahead to get centres across the country where, after it must have completed and perfected its transformational process of introducing new breeds of cows that will be different from the waka-about type, it will get their owners to keep their cows in ranches as it is the best practice in United States and other parts of the world where development has been witnessed.
This is what, I have found out, Buhari has done that they went and armed their militiamen to kill Fulani for. And when you kill over 1,000 Fulani (going by Miyetti Allah’s figures) unjustly, you definitely do not expect them to be provoked. But by nature, you know that Fulani would retaliate, which is the other side of the hypocrisy: You love to hear wicked persecution, killing. You can turn your face away from that. But when you hear that the persecuted has retaliated (this does not mean I support violence but that this is part of the realities you have hypocritically planted in our arable land), that is more an issue to you. Check yourselves and see if you are not part of the Nigerian problems. Yes! Your killing of Fulani does not matter to the media whose patronage you honestly speaking enjoy, their retaliation is the greatest sin that must not be seen. We need to ask ourselves if we really love Nigeria as our country and if we really love to be at peace going about our lives in the country.
Truth and finally, these are discoveries made by CNN, BBC and Aljazeera that they and other foreign media chose not to be part of the professional hypocrisy on ground. Recall Femi Fani-Kayode and terrorist group, IPOB, attacked the foreign media for choosing to reamin on the noble side over reportable of the incidences from the Mambilla plateau, Taraba to Benue. So, if foreign media who value the place of their respective national interests in their reporting system chose to do Nigeria great by not doing to it even the evil that his own Nigerian media and mischievous people do to it, then, where is the need for quarrel against them?
*Bashir Adefaka is a media practitioner in Lagos.