I am an angry Fulani man
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.