By Kennedy Ikantu Peretei
The last has not been heard on the seven days ultimatum given to herdsmen to vacate forest reserves in Ondo State by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN.
The week started with a speech from the Governor that drew applause from a section of Ondo residents, who have been traumatised by herdsmen in recent months. But whoever understood the contraption called Nigeria would have known that Akeredolu needed more than issuing those orders to bring sanity to our forests.
While the Governor was still sunning himself in praises for issuing such courageous orders, the Secretary-General of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria,(MACBAN), Usman Ngelzerma fired the first salvo. Ngelzerma said, they held a two-hour meeting with Governor Akeredolu and what they discussed was how to stop night grazing and not an ultimatum to quit the reserve. He audaciously asked where Akeredolu wanted them to relocate to when alternatives have not been provided for them. He declared that his Association is not aware of the order.
Mallam Shehu Garba, Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and publicity, was the person who gave insight to where the herdsmen draw their inspiration and authority from.
In an official statement, Garba described Akeredolu’s orders as unilateral and unconstitutional. Unbecoming of a seasoned lawyer, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and a former president of Nigeria Bar Association. From the delicate power equation in our country, it is doubtful if Akeredolu is sufficiently equipped to join issues with Buhari on this account or clarify what transpired in the two-hour meeting with the cattle breeders association.
A similar drama is playing out in Oyo State where Chief Sunday Igboho has issued a seven-day ultimatum for herders to quit Ibarapa lands on account of the kidnapping and other criminal activities.
To put all of these into proper perspective, it is important to appreciate, the mindset of President Muhammadu Buhari, his background and agenda that he has come to represent and pursue in Nigeria.
In the first place, we have a president who does not pretend about the fact that he is a Northern president and does not care about what other Nigerians and tribes feel or say. This is the first time in this country all Service Chiefs are Northern Muslims (apart from Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Naval Staff). 95% of Federal Agencies are headed by Northern Muslims.
I am not one of those who fan embers of division and disunity in our country but if we gloss over these carefully planned realities, we may be very far away from addressing the main issues.
There is a general sense of entitlement and ownership of Nigeria by Fulanis since Buhari became president. In the high brow areas of Abuja, you will find cows moving about. Sometimes very near the Aso Villa gate. It is doubtful though if no such cows are grazing in the Villa going by recent events when the president visited a ranch instead of a kidnap scene very close to where he was holidaying in Daura.
I read the story of a couple that was kidnapped in Uso, Owo Local Government Area of Ondo State with utter disbelief. The victim narrated how the kidnappers did not feel threatened at all, whether in the forests or on the high way, where they patiently counted their ransom to be sure the amount was complete or not. In broad daylight. He reported that there was no sign of security agencies, not even the celebrated Amotekun. After their release, Bolaji Salami, Commissioner of Police, Ondo State Command, gave credit to the professionalism of his men that led to the rescue of the victims.
Buhari is acting a simple script written by Seikh Usman Dan Fodio. The Sokoto Caliphate was a sovereign Muslim Caliphate established by Usman Dan Fodio in 1804. But it was dissolved in 1903 and annexed to Northern Nigeria Protectorate by the British.
Before Nigeria’s flag independence in 1960, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto, grandson of Usman Dan Fodio and Premier of the Northern region(1957) unapologetically said: “We the people of the north will continue our stated intention to conquer the South and to dip the Koran in the Atlantic ocean after the British leave our shores”. This is Buhari’s mindset.
What Fodio could not achieve with chariots, bows and arrows, Buhari has almost accomplished using the instrumentality of the Nigerian State.
At this crucial moment, what is required is beyond empty statements but coordinated efforts at all levels to chart a way forward. The entire state security architecture has been compromised to protect the Fulanis in the land. They are willing to emasculate the rest of us as though we are all already conquered.
If we are not proactive, before 2023 we may not be able to rise to the next of their plan. If they can take over our forest without any resistance. If they can destroy our farmlands with the support of the government. If they can kill our children, rape our daughters and wives on our farms. We do not need to call for war, but we must join forces to protect our land.
In the past, l have suggested that the Government should call a security summit. It should not be a matter for the Media. It is our very existence that is at stake. It is either we rise to it or get drowned in it.
Kennedy Ikantu Peretei is the State Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Ondo State.