“Agba kii wa l’oja k’ori omo tuntun wo”, goes a Yoruba adage. Literally meaning, the elders can’t be in the market place and the neck of a new born baby will be dangling on the mother’s back. A way of saying, elders cannot watch things go wrong without taking concrete steps to correct them.
Within the context of Nigeria, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is an elder by all standards. He was former Governor of a State like a mini Nigeria, the only National leader of APC, a Statesman whose voice many have expected to hear on the impasse of a one sided crisis of herders molesting farmers and dispossessing them of their ancestral lands. As at the time of this writing several villages have been sacked in Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau, Adamawa, Yobe, Bornu without sparing Kastina the home State of the President. In all affected states, indigenous tribes now live in IDP camps, while herders have settled in their villages and their herds grazing their farms without interference.
This is the reality of the situation Asiwaju tried trivialising through politics. He is playing politics with our history, lives and posterity. The pending reality of a full blown killer herdsmen occupation of his ancestral home of Iragbiji in Osun State and his adopted State of Lagos is nothing to rejoice about. His nephew, Oyetola should furnish him with the intelligence report on his table. Tinubu need not give land to the herdsmen. They already have taken over all the forests in Osun.
Better late than never is a common saying, but sometimes it may be too late than ever. This was the case with Bola Ahmed Tinubu, whose political sagacity saw to it that Buhari’s many falls on the slippery terrain of politics was brought to an end. His political capital was spent to give democratic hope to the people who have lost same in the candidacy of an unrepentant dictator. Tinubu was undoubtedly one of the architects of Nigeria where a litre of PMS is being considered to be sold at the pump for 212 naira and 60 kobo. Words have been long expected from Tinubu; occasions has provided him the opportunity to speak, but he chose to be silent and his silence was golden until he broke it. Recently, Tinubu visited Zulum, a Governor who has been attacked fiercely on two occasions by Boko Haram. On that visit, Asiwaju said nothing on insecurity.
When it was too late in the day to speak, then the stunting coarse voice of the Jagaban Bogu reverberated in emptiness of content. Like threatening thunder and lightning on a cloudy day in hope of rain blown off by the wind without rain, Tinubu was heard saying nothing!
Tinubu stuck to the herders-farmers narrative like a story teller having things to hide. The Nigerian story of a tribe at war with the over 300 other tribes was made to look like that of Ife and Modakeke. Herders, he painted as if they are neighbours with farmers. Yes! There are indigenous Fulani who became part of Nigeria by force after the early 19th century invasion. Those ones have become part of the system. One of them is the Sultan of Sokoto who analysed our security situation without bias as a leader should do. He pointed fingers at his tribe; 7 out of every 10 kidnappers are herdsmen. Nigeria is privileged at this time to be presided over by another member of this tribe, who was spot on, having advantage of intelligence when he informed us that killer herdsmen are foreign militia hiding in our forest and wrecking havoc. The intelligence supplied by the President coincided with the 70th birthday gift of Kawu Baraje to the nation. Baraje has said at the occasion that Fulani militias were brought in by APC leaders to help them win 2015 election. The National leader of APC shouldn’t have spoken without a response to Baraje. But he did!
“Farmers have a right to farm THEIR LAND unmolested. Herders have a right to raise their livestock without undue interference”. We should appreciate Asiwaju for recognising and affirming that the land belongs to farmers, but Asiwaju did encourage trespasses by herders when he pronounced their right to raise their herds without ownership of land. Our statesman was at best mischievous when he called for unity and decisiveness to tackle the unabated farmers-herders crisis in the country. If the crisis is unending, then a critical analysis would have been his duty to the nation. If decisiveness is expected,, it is first from the APC administration led by Muhammadu Buhari. The hypocrisy of Asiwaju stinks to the highest heaven by giving the call he should make to his party men and the President, to all Nigerians. Do I need remind Asiwaju that carts are driven by horses and not the other way round. The unity he placed ahead of decisiveness is an aberration. Indecision of the President over the herdsmen expansionist agenda first became obvious in Benue. Our President still left Benue without making any decisions.
Our dear Asiwaju admitted that the dispute had taken an acute and violent dimension and had cost too many innocent lives while destroying the property and livelihood of many others. He further amplified the situation without proferring solutions. He went further by saying: “as vital as security is to the resolution of the matter”, and back our Asiwaju came, like a reed in the wind, “the nation must realise security measures alone will not suffice”. What has Asiwaju said?
The matter Tinubu said is not ethnic in factual origin or actual causation although in the minds and hearts of too many it has become ethnic in recriminations and impulsive action. Tinubu spoke on the state of the nation with such wit of words that waved away the current issue of kidnapping and banditry. He spoke louder than the deafening cries coming from the forest of the bandits where Students of Federal College of Forestry and Mechanization, Mandu, are being held.
How can foreigners bearing arms be so comfortably admitted by Asiwaju into the commonwealth of Nigeria without process? How can people who travelled hundreds of kilometres have their issues resolved as if, the Itsekiri are at it again with their Uhrobo and Isoko neighbors? How can dispute over land with majorly foreigners be treated like a border dispute between Akwa Ibom and Ikwuano? How can he make it look as if State creation has separated the Tiv of Benue from Jukums in Taraba and they must live together as Nigerians?
My fear of the possibility of a political conspiracy was heightened, and I was not disappointed, when he said what he said without saying anything. “When conflict between these groups arises to such an extent, the nation must set forth clear principles and policies to remove the tension, in order to allow both to proceed towards their STATED goal, to live in harmony and according to their respective rights”. Tinubu is an extremely brilliant politician who would have eaten his cake and still be having it. But an adage of the Yoruba nation of South West Nigeria says, “s’oro s’oro ko ranti eni to mo oro gbo”, meaning those who know how to speak must remain mindful of those who know how to hear and interprete correctly. Within the said, the unsaid intention of the Asiwaju stood naked before the discerning. Of course who doesn’t know the STATED goal of the Fulani oligarchy to own land in all the States of Nigeria! This goal the Buhari administration has pursued through cattle colonies, Ruga settlements and lately Livestock Transformation Plans without success.
The question Nigerians need to ask Asiwaju is, what are the dynamics their contracted election machineries from Mali, Chad, and Niger, the ancestral home of the President brought into the election? And why are they finding it difficult to go back? Why does a leading Presidential Aspirant in Asiwaju prefer that this people be conferred with Nigeria citizenships without due process? Were voters card issued to them on arrival in 2015? Are there secrets polling units in our forest where this people voted in the last two elections, (2015 and 2019).
Asiwaju in beautiful communication skills committed himself to the establishment of herders communities (colonies, Ruga or whatever) in all local government area of Nigeria when he noted that unoccupied public lands could be fenced into grazing areas or ranches and leased out to herders on a very low cost, or no cost the Asiwaju meant to say. For if his presidential ambition will be backed by the oligarchy they will have as much land as their ancestors wished since early 19th century.
Bola Tinubu at best wanted to fan the coals of his ambition to flame without addressing the issue. His words became the rain that will extinguish the flicker left of it. He’s of course out of page with majority of Nigerians, particularly his Yoruba people of South West Nigeria. This insensitivity has made of him, “adara n’ita ma n’iyi n’ile”, a good man outside but without honour in his home.
Tinubu is a victim of the 1999 political calculations that made Obasanjo the President without the support of the South West. But Obasanjo was not pretentious. He was known for whom he was at home, a nationalist, and was trusted by others across the country for same. Tinubu however is a tribal lord who is responding desperately to the demands of his ambition to trade whatever need be to become President in 2023.
The only known solution to the Nigerian problem is restructuring. For it, Tinubu and his co- progressive travellers shunned 2014 National Conference. But when he spoke there was no mention or reference to it from our would never be President. Whatever has happened to restructuring with our once vocal ambassador is the reason his many words saying nothing should be taken with a pinch of salt.
NB: Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, is a former Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs between 1985 and 1987.