I am an an­gry Fu­lani man

Sunday Trust - - COMMENT & DEBATE - Babay­ola M. Toungo

Iam a Fu­lani man and a very proud one. I am also an an­gry Fu­lani man. An­gry be­cause there seem to be a col­lu­sion be­tween the gov­ern­ment, politi­cians and the me­dia to vil­ify and de­monise the Fulbes. The orgy of vi­o­lence, phys­i­cal and men­tal vis­ited on the Fulbe and the fe­roc­ity of the at­tacks leaves one think­ing whether there is any drop of hu­man­ity left in us. The hypocrisy of it all is lost on those calling ‘herds­men’ mur­der­ers. Who are the real mur­der­ers? Has it oc­curred to the hate mon­gers that they are stok­ing a fire that may ul­ti­mately con­sume them? Have we so soon for­got­ten in Rwanda in 1994 when the ma­jor­ity Hu­tus put the Tut­sis un­der the knife? Lest we for­get, the me­dia was the chief cat­a­lyst of the Rwan­dan geno­cide.

I just fin­ished read­ing a re­ac­tion to Dr. Aliyu Tilde’s ar­ti­cle on the re­cent killings on the Mam­billa plateau by Mam­billa mili­tias - mon­sters un­leashed on the Fulbe herders by their cow­ardly masters. The re­sponse to Dr. Tilde’s piece was by a pseudo-in­tel­lec­tual on USA-Africa Di­a­logue Se­ries, a plat­form sup­pos­edly for in­tel­lec­tual dis­course, but is fast turn­ing into a mar­ket place of in­sults and tribal den­i­gra­tion. The re­ac­tion is typ­i­cal of our ne­ora­bid eth­ni­cists who will only be sat­is­fied with one of theirs run­ning the show from Abuja. Any other per­son not af­fil­i­ated with them ei­ther by re­li­gion or eth­nic­ity is not ac­cept­able to them. These same shame­less peo­ple who pon­tif­i­cate on the virtues of democracy but run back to their ethno-re­li­gious laagers once they miss the boat. While the world is mov­ing for­ward, their ve­hi­cles are per­ma­nently en­gaged in the re­verse gear - do­ing all they can to pull the coun­try back to the mid­dle ages.

As “in­tel­lec­tu­als and pro­gres­sives” you ex­pect sound and rea­son­able ar­gu­ment from such a crowd, but no, you only get to read ver­biage from their ad­dled brains. All they are good at is con­demn­ing oth­ers while liv­ing in the com­forts of an­other coun­try, whose proud cit­i­zens de­vel­oped with pa­tri­otic fer­vour. The oft re­peated ar­gu­ment is that cat­tle busi­ness is pri­vate busi­ness and there­fore gov­ern­ment doesn’t have any busi­ness as­sist­ing pas­toral­ists with any­thing - even the land to graze their herds. What gall! Yes, cat­tle busi­ness is pri­vate busi­ness - what about haulage, air­line, farm­ing and other busi­nesses that the gov­ern­ment as­sist the op­er­a­tors one way or an­other? I can­not re­mem­ber see­ing any road built by a haulage com­pany for its use, nor any air­port built by any of our air­line op­er­a­tors. Gov­ern­ments at all lev­els pro­vide ev­ery­thing from fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives to the pro­vi­sion of in­puts and ma­chin­ery for our farm­ers. But the pas­toral­ists are not en­ti­tled to any form of as­sis­tance, in­clud­ing the pro­tec­tion of their lives and herds. If it weren’t tragic, it would have been ironic.

Thou­sands of pas­toral­ists are killed be­tween Plateau, South­ern Kaduna, Mam­billa Plateau in Taraba State, Adamawa and Benue states but not a word from ei­ther the gov­ern­ments or our me­dia war­riors, both main­stream and the so­cial vari­ant. Those re­mind­ing us of the sanc­tity of life, fail to let the coun­try and the world know whether pas­toral­ists are ro­bots meant to be dis­posed with at the dis­cre­tion of our “en­light­ened” bet­ters sit­ting in front of their com­put­ers in the com­forts of their of­fices and homes. Pas­toral­ists do not de­serve gov­ern­ment pro­tec­tion, pe­riod. Their lives and eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity meant noth­ing to our “pro­gres­sives”.

While gov­ern­ments at all lev­els keep silent when­ever pas­toral­ists are killed, their cat­tle rus­tled or maimed, the me­dia go to town when­ever and wher­ever a corpse is dis­cov­ered. Ev­ery crime com­mit­ted any­where in the coun­try is au­to­mat­i­cally as­cribed to ‘herds­men’ even be­fore an in­ves­ti­ga­tion starts. The ubiq­ui­tous herds­man that we grow to know has been ef­fec­tively “tutsinised” by an in­do­lent me­dia and a com­plicit lazy elite. Why do we refuse to lis­ten to the herds­man’s story be­fore con­demn­ing him? Is it be­cause they don’t have ac­cess to the me­dia and the in­ter­net? The Rwan­dan geno­cide was a prod­uct of me­dia hype, so also was Hitler. With gover­nors like Or­tom of Benue play­ing the role of Himm­ler’s storm troop­ers and the likes of Wike and Fayose play­ing the roles played by the likes of Goebbels, I won­der if the coun­try is ever go­ing to be the same again. And in all this, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment keeps mum giv­ing the im­pres­sion that the life of the herder is not worth that of a sin­gle elec­toral bal­lot.

I am a Fu­lani man and I am very an­gry. I do not sup­port the killing of a sin­gle hu­man be­ing what­ever tribe or creed he be­longs to; nei­ther do I sup­port the non-pun­ish­ment of ag­gres­sors no mat­ter who they might be. Most spon­sors of the vi­o­lence that took hold of the north­ern re­gion are known - Boko Haram in the north­east, farmer / herder con­flict in the north cen­tral and ban­ditry in the north­west. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment, the guar­an­tor of peace, pro­jects a non-chal­lant at­ti­tude while the crim­i­nals are hav­ing a field day. The spon­sors are walk­ing free while the likes of Or­tom are mak­ing po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal out of the un­for­tu­nate si­t­u­a­tion by or­ga­niz­ing mass buri­als. Why the very pub­lic buri­als? Why close the coffins if the aim is to draw max­i­mum emo­tional cap­i­tal?

The gov­ern­ments of Benue and Taraba states passed a law ban­ning open graz­ing with­out mak­ing any pro­vi­sion for ranch­ing and our “in­tel­lec­tu­als” and “ex­perts” are ask­ing the pas­toral­ists to just com­ply. In Taraba where ranch­ing has been prac­ticed for more than half a cen­tury, the ranch­ers are killed by gov­ern­ment func­tionar­ies. In Benue, the gov­ern­ment is in­sist­ing that ranch­ing per­mits will only be is­sued for one year to be re­newed at the dis­cre­tion of the gov­er­nor. We all ap­plauded and played dumb about the con­sti­tu­tional rights of ev­ery Nige­rian to re­side and con­duct his eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in any part of the coun­try with­out let or hin­drance. When some north­ern youth is­sued a quit no­tice on Ig­bos liv­ing in the north in the heat of the Kanu in­sults hurled at north­ern­ers, we all be­came con­sti­tu­tional ex­perts and re­minded one and all what the con­sti­tu­tion says about the right of the Igbo itin­er­ant trader to live and un­der­take his eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity, wher­ever he chooses to do so. Not the pas­toral­ists who shouldn’t and couldn’t be al­lowed to en­joy such rights. And you won­der why they take re­tal­ia­tory ac­tions when they are at­tacked?

I am a Fu­lani man and I am an­gry. Words have failed me just like our fed­eral and state gov­ern­ments. I will be back when I feel more co­her­ent.

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