The Fulani and the rest of us (4)



We now go back to our reflections, after last week’s digression, on the Fulani quagmire that is set on swallowing us up as a nation, especially in the north.
Between last Friday and now, there have been at least three vicious attacks in Kaduna state and on the fringes of Plateau state. For that reason of currency, I bring up the Nigerian state into the discourse today, especially in the light of comments made by a former member of the National Assembly in the aftermath of the attack on Manchok, in Kaura LGA of Kaduna state. Hon Barnabas Bala Bantex represented the Kaura federal constituency between 2007 and 2011. Before then he had been Chairman of the same LGA. In a phone-in programme on Liberty Radio, Kaduna, last Friday, after an overnight wipe-out of a family of seven by suspected Fulani gunmen, he called in with a voice laden with frustration and blamed, in his submission, the Nigerian state for its failure to nib the Fulani crises in the area in the bud. He said if the government had done something after the attacks and counter-attacks of four weeks ago, by way of transparent arrests and speedy prosecution of perpetrators, this would most probably not have taken place. By Monday the 3rd of February again, gunmen, allegedly Fulani, numbering over two hundred and armed to the teeth, attacked the Takad people of Zangang in Kaduna state and Kirim in Plateau state, leaving scores dead.
This crass failure of the state to provide protection to lives and property of Nigerians has become legendary. It has caused insecurity to fester in no small measure. For whatever reason, the people entrusted with the task have successively failed, or even refused, to tackle this particular problem of the Fulani, as with many other problems, across Nigeria. One is left with no option but to conclude that the continued existence of this problem is serving some interests. There is no political will to address this particular problem, it has become clear, and gradually Nigerians who find themselves under the threat are resorting to providing security for themselves, hence, an unfettered descent into anarchy. Many people living in these threatened areas consider themselves being waged war at.
Of course, this problem is not one that can be addressed militarily by the Nigerian state, even though a certain amount of it is clearly required going by the apparent sophistication of organization and surgical precision of onslaughts. It must be approached politically and with sound governance policies which, regrettably, have been non-existent and, where there have appeared any, are either ill-conceived or deliberately programmed not to achieve the stated results. For example, the nomadic education policy which is meant to target the pastoralist Fulani and hopefully integrating them into mainstream society and modern trends even in their own livelihood. For all it is worth, the programme has not yielded as expected because the people at whom it is aimed cannot be tied down for it to achieve meaningfully as they are constantly on the move. Moreover, very few instructors are ready to follow them about and in such terrain. May be the nomadic policy strategy has to be revisited.
As more and more problematic as the Nigerian demographics have continued to be by the day due to the porous nature of our borders on all fronts, the Nigerian state has failed Nigerians in coming up with sure-fire measures to police our frontiers and to ensure proper documentation of citizens and foreigners within the country. It is only natural that any person who wants to be Nigerian or live in Nigeria be fully accounted for and not for such to traverse in and out of the frontiers at will. It means that the system must be effective to the extent that everyone within provides some legitimate identification on demand otherwise face the full weight of the law. We have heard claims that some of these Fulani are not of Nigerian extraction.
Of course, this is only possible if the local population, especially those living near the borders, is ready to cooperate with the state. Census exercise has been a major challenge in Nigeria. For selfish political and other sundry interests, many have made the conduct of censuses in Nigeria impossible. Every day, the implication of that continues to stare us, rather unpleasantly, in the face.
Nigerians have to be able to account for each other if Nigeria must work. It is only in conditions of peace that we can prosper and we must insist on those we have put in leadership positions to deliver on their mandate by creating such an environment.

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