By Temitayo Odunlami
Even if Gov Seyi Makinde had wanted to sound Nigeria-patriotic and a nationalist on Sunday Igboho’s quit order to Sarkin Fulani Ibarapaland, Alhaji Salihu Abdulkadir, he shouldn’t have waxed so treacherous, quickly condemning Igboho and his men as “criminals”, ordering that they “be arrested and treated like common criminals” and ultimately scheming to sell Igboho down the river.
Who was the governor foaming in the mouth to please? He should reflect on the spittle licking that M.K.O. Abiola did for Ibrahim Babangidas and Sani Abachas and how he still ended up crushed in their murderous canines.
If, in the first place, Makinde had proven the true chief security officer of Oyo State, if he had shown deep worry and taken quick action about the killings in Ibarapaland, an Igboho probably wouldn’t have emerged high on shoulders playing the chief defender role that was and remains Makinde’s direct responsibility.
It’s not enough to just establish an Amotekun. Within seven days, kidnappers killed seven persons in Igangan alone, the Sarkin’s domain, with Makinde playing yo-yo on urgent, decisive action that should nab the killers and stop the atrocities. Makinde can’t pretend he didn’t know where the serial kidnappers and killers of his people were shrouded in the Ibarapa forest. The citizens said they had cried to him many times and had fed him intel, but what did he do? Was he afraid of the Fulani in the Oyo forest, or afraid of those in Abuja?
In the circumstances that the citizens had been condemned to, they must resort to desperate self-help to save their lives and property. On the heels of kidnappings and killings without let across the state and no immediate official help seeming to come from Agodi, the people must regard their governor as unreliable.
Many Yoruba leaders have been displaying fear, self-interest or sheer political impotence in confronting oppression by Northern elements against their people, which is why the Fulani invasion has festered in the Southwest. Makinde underlined this with the haste with which he noosed Igboho. Isn’t it amazing that a Seyi Makinde would possess the sagacity to hold discussions with the ilk of Sunday Igboho for election advantages, but, in power, suffer from flight of such a dialogue to resolve dangers decimating the state’s population and economy? Rather than sprinting to execute Igboho and his men as “common criminals” after the quit order, why couldn’t Makinde have invited Igboho over to deliberate with him his own sane manner of evacuating the kidnapping spread? It has become inevitable, if not to Makinde but to all concerned Yoruba people, that kidnapping and the ruinous activities of herdsmen in Oyo State and the Southwest generally must be exterminated if all the people would soon not be corpses or slaves in their own land.
In the Southwest, the Fulani have been brazenly destroying farmlands, killing farmers, raping women, kidnapping the locals and collecting millions of naira as ransom. So brazenly. In another people’s land, fa! What effrontery! Interestingly, we never heard Seyi Makinde and lily-livered Yoruba leaders describe these as “stoking ethnic tension,” as the Oyo governor tagged the rescue mission of Igboho and his supporters.
The attention of the Oyo State governor, and, indeed, that of the other governors in the Southwest should be drawn to developments, killings especially, over the years in the middle belt (Benue and Plateau states particularly), Southern Kaduna (Zango-Kataf, etc) where Hausa Fulani settlers, herders and kidnappers have been killing ruthlessly and destroying, even claiming lands of the locals as theirs. Now, these killers are traversing the Southwest, while the region’s leaders, ensconced in their plush offices or blinded by their ambitions, are playing stupid nationalism, as if Nigeria is even a nation. There’s a viral video of an Ibarapa woman crying, relating how Sarkin Salihu and his son seized her 10-acre farm, telling her there was nothing she could do about it and she can go to hell.
Of course, not all Hausa-Fulani and not all herdsmen in the Southwest will be criminals. However, the influx of Fulani men into the region over the last decade, many of them not even Nigerians and increasingly since President Muhamnadu Buhari assumed office, has rendered the number of the innocent and harmless ones among them inconsequential.
The Fulani invasion of the Southwest cannot but get worse, what with treacherous condescensions by the region’s own leaders, as it’s currently reeling. This invasion would appear innocuous to some of us now: not really so threatening, not all-conquering, not overwhelming, despite the kidnappings and killings. In the medium to long term, however, the savage and ravage could well be Benue, Southern Kaduna total. Hausa-Fulani warmongers aren’t known to be exactly kind in taking prisoners. It’s time the Asiwaju Bola Tinubus, Yinka Odumakins, Bode Georges and all the state governors in the region sank their differences and work together to save their land and people, for the Southwest is endangered. Seriously endangered.
-Temitayo Odunlami, journalist and public affairs analyst, writes from Lagos