“Perception is reality in this world” – Robert Foster, State Rep. and Mississippi GOP gubernatorial candidate. He stood against having a woman in his campaign tour bus because he didnt want to be perceived as scandalous or having an affair. When someone insinuates something or believes he sees something, then it becomes a reality and the world laps it up as true and real. Nigeria is suffering from insecurity like many other nations but in our case, it has manifested like an Amoeba. In 2015 its head was glaringly in Benue, and its psuedo feet in Plateau, Nasarawa and Taraba states, and in 2019, the head has relocated to Ondo and some Southcwestern states, and the pseudo feet are back to Zamfara and Katsina states. Fulani herdsmen were on a rampage across Plateau, Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa states in the build up to the 2015 elections. Now that the elections are over, the Fulani herdsmen have moved to the South, mostly Southcwestern states and a few Southceastern states. Why this sudden strategic and swift change? A host of prominent public space influencers have been beating the drums of war out of buffoonery and fools have been dancing to the beats out of dumbshittery. 2019 presidential election was keenly contested by two Fulani and was shockingly won by a Fulani. What is baffling here is that: 1. The Fulanisation and Islamisation agenda is not swung at the PDP candidate, Atiku, who is claimed to be more Fulani than PMB, afterall Daura is considered more of a Hausa town than Fulani. 2. Why is Atiku, a full fledged Fulani man, not embittered by the antagonism hurled at the Fulani, and why is he not doing anything to change the narrative; And if the Fulani have truly become radicalised, why is he not saying anything towards reforming them? This hatred and vitriole against the Fulani is borne out of the hatred for PMB, because of the loss of Atiku at the polls, even though Atiku is Fulani.
There is a concerted media effort to demonise the Fulani and over time, the farmers/herders clashes description has morphed into farmers/herdsmen and eventually farmers/Fulani herdsmen to fit the narrative that radicalises the entire Fulani ethnicity. When a crime is committed and the culprits happen to be Fulani, its boldly carried as Fulani herdsmen. If they are Fulani, they are not necessarily herders, as not all Fulani are herders. That prompted Alh. Bola Tinubu to ask, where are the cows? Because there ought to be a herd or herds of cattle within that vicinity. But when other tribes commit crimes, their tribes are silenced, especially on the news headlines and social media commentary. They are not called Yoruba ritualists or Igbo armed robbers or rapists or baby factories, depending on the nature of the crime. In all these crimes, lives are lost daily but all of a sudden, criminals all over the country have either retired or are on a sabbatical and only Fulani are allowed to carry on with the menace of killing and other kinds of crime.
The new International passport was another avenue to denigrate and curse the Fulani. PMB had done the patriotic and domesticated the production of our International passports, souring a 50-year contract to a foreign company awarded by the OBJ administration for the exclusive production of the same document, which has gulped millions of foreign exchange from Nigerians. A few days on, the nation woke in curses that the Fulani and their cows were on the pages of the booklet. In year 2000, OBJ put the Fulani and their cows on the N200 note and also some Fulani girls on the N10 polymer note. In all these Fulanisation moves, there was no outcry, not even a pim! Catholic Bishop Matthew Kukah was vexed by the Fulani narrative of the passport and warned that Nigerians have to be very careful before the situation degenerates out of control. He cautioned that it is similar to what happened in 1967 when the Igbo were profiled which led to the civil war. He said this while speaking last Tuesday at a colloquium on hate speech and fake news, organised by the Olusegun Obasanjo Centre for African Studies, an arm of the National Open University of Nigeria. He also said that he was almost swayed by the vitriole against the Fulanisation of our passports until he got a copy for himself. His data page had the Bini, the first page had Zuma Rock, other pages had the Tiv, some had the Eyo, and so on. He again warned against tagging everyone and everything as herdsmen and called on the leadership of the country to tame the situation. Interestingly, the American International passport has cows on its pages.
The attacks on the Fulani intensified around the death of Mrs. Funke Olakunrin, daughter of Pa Reuben Fasoranti, leader of the pancYoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere. The drum beaters once again danced and swirled around the killing, assuring us that it was the Fulani at work. Meanwhile, the police have said that they have arrested some suspects and investigation is ongoing. It looks like a calculated attack as some commentators have said that people were aware of her visits to her daddy at his home and her usual departures. But to wait for the police investigation is the right thing to do. Tinubu had to ask, “If you say they are Fulani herdsmen, did you see any cows”? Some are raising the question, “was she targeted to give chorus to the Fulani demonisation”?
Just after consoling the family of Mrs. Olakunrin, OBJ authored another letter to the president and as usual, it was more about the messenger than the message as some chided that he was always writing open letters because he was a graduate of the Open University. Truly, the Open University has made his statements less puerile and has finessed his writing skills. But then again, he was reminded of Bola Ige, Harry Marshal, Odi, and the germination and cultivation of the Boko Haram menace all under him and/or his political kith and kin.
In OBJ’s letter he mentioned Fulani 13 times and it is clearly about attacks credited to Fulani. He however called PMB both as President Buhari and as General Buhari. This is, of course, deliberate as he charged the president to take control of the situation. That in particular is on the minds of all PMB supporters and admirers as the transition from GMB to PMB has robbed Mr. President of firm fists to better handle a lot of miscreants. Corrupt public officials have not really faced the wrath and fists of a GMB and now, the purveyors of war and beaters of war drums are beginning to have a field day in what is looking like a pseudo insecurity situation where unpatriotic elements are if not sponsoring terrorist acts, are busy fanning the embers of war and pushing the country to a brink from which they will be fleeing the country while you and I perish under their mischief. It is time GMB, it is time to act decisively. The Hausa say, “You chew a stone so as to frighten the tigernut”. Taking a few punches below the belt to restore calm in the polity may not be a bad idea after all, otherwise the hate speech being spewed may create a Rwanda we cannot recover from.
Tahir is Talban Bauchi