This time tomorrow, I expect Oyo State, my home state, to have exploded into tribal insurrection, inflamed by the raw passion of land seizure and its ugly sidekicks of killings, rape, assassination and kidnapping enabled by the nomadic Fulani herdsmen who had been forcefully trespassing and seizing other people’s ancestral land and properties for years. The die is cast. The seven-day ultimatum handed down by Sunday Igboho expires tomorrow. In Africa, nothing inflames passion more than ancestral land. Even in the Biblical time, land is the gold standard to measure your power and influence. The need to protect your father’s land has remained with us and shall ever be.
Provocative and ugly stories of Fulani capture of Yoruba land have taken on the form of legend over the years. Given an inch, the Fulani has taken a mile. Given a mile, the Fulani has colonized whole towns and villages and installed local Serikis who act as their totem of authority and power.
There is no spot in Oyo, and by extension Yorubaland, where the Fulani have not built a fortress of rigid Islamic codes and ethics, insubordination, arrogance, warmongering and disdain for their Yoruba host. In their own domain, other Yoruba states like Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Lagos have had bloody brushes with the Fulani.
This writer has been wondering how much longer this entire Fulani conceit can continue without a radical and major violent regrooving we now see in Oyo State. Are we therefore going to see the end of Fulani cavalier insolence in Oyo State tomorrow? For years, it had become lazily orthodox to imbue the Fulani as the imperial, conquering and fighting force that could face any battle and retreats from none. They are seen as valorous die hards. The fear and terror they carefully succeeded in creating on our psyche has remained a scar across our collective soul. They were able to turn the Yoruba into wilting cowards in their own land.
Is the Fulani overbearing arrogance coming to an end in Oyo? Has our loud groans and pain come to the ears of our chivalrous savior in the militant mould of Sunday Adeyemo Igboho? Are we going to see a payback for all the silent years of Fulani herdsmen massacre of innocent and defenceless Yoruba killed like chicken while the state of Nigeria, the Fulani protector, looked away? Are the soul of fallen Yoruba sons and daughters like Dr. Fatai Aborode and Alhaja Serifat Adisa demanding retribution from the beyond?
Of a truth, the Ibarapa local government area of Igangan is an unlikely place for the theatre of tribal insurrection. It is an unlikely place to commence a trench warfare to decide once and for all who owns the land? This is a sleepy, rustic, nondescript and peaceful Oyo town. However, small as the town may be, it harbours Seriki Saliu Kadri, his family and a strong cohesion of Fulani jihadists who are ready to stand and fight. Igangan has turned into a stronghold of rapists, extortionists, kidnappers, killers and land grabbers.
On his part, Sunday Igboho is a decorated veteran of the Ife-Modakeke war. He often reminisces on that war with tragic, somber reflection. Strong men fell in that battle but he was a survivor of that war to its bitter end. As Igboho faces new challenge tomorrow, is he a commander without his troops behind him? I had thought that Iba Gani Adams, the spitfire Aare Onakankanfo of Yorubaland, will join Igbowo in his search for Yoruba glory. I had thought that the Afeniferere, Yoruba World Congress, Yoruba Legacy Forum and Afeniferere Renewal Group will be sending supporting signals. All is quiet from this quarters.
Well, if the Kankanfo will fight from the rearguard, Igboho is facing the fire frontally. If the prestigious pan Yoruba cultural umbrellas will not send foot soldiers to Igbowo, he is not alone. The army of networked community of social media Yoruba nationalists are solidly behind Igboho. Their Yoruba passion has been stirred by a collective sense of strange martyrdom for the Yoruba dignity. Frothing with tribal hatred and a hysterical sense of beleaguerment and victimhood, the Yoruba are now saying that they are ready to bury the Fulani into the chasm of their own construction?
How can the Yoruba foment war against the only tribe in Nigeria that enjoys permissible deviance to carry guns? How can the Yoruba fight and win a war against the Fulani who have the backing of both the military and the Police? Is there any chance of winning the battle with Seriki Saliu Kadri who has boasted that their ‘man’ is in power and that President Mohammadu Buhari is the only person that could remove them from Igangan? The elite British marine motto is ‘Who Dares Wins’. Igboho has dared, would he win?
Yes, Yoruba nation doffs its hat for the gallantry and the effrontery of Sunday Igboho. Stirring the hornet nest of the Fulani in their commandeered forests is in itself a courageous act.
At least, Igboho’s action has peel away few layers of the bogus narrative that Yoruba are cowards. Already, the coalition of forces like the Agbekoyas, Ajaguns, vigilantes and many more Yoruba volunteers are burning with a fighting zeal to heal the battered pride of the Yoruba, ossified over time, by the Fulani. Rather than douse the tension of dogmatic, tribal punch-ups between identarian groups like Yoruba and Fulani, the government of President Mohammadu Buhari has never hidden its Fulani hegemonic partisanship and so will send in troops to massacre Yoruba to protect Seriki Saliu Kadri, his children and clan interest.
What is unfolding speaks to the administration of President Mohammadu Buhari. He brought division into the polity through his stubborn and narrow spectrum Fulani hegemonic dream. He emboldens and weaponises the Fulani nationalism through his policies of nepotism, capture, dominion and the narrative from Allah that Nigeria is the property of the Fulani. The Fulani have continued to pose a threat and present danger to Yoruba social fabric and getting our land back, though a matter of life and death, is nevertheless poxed with danger.
On the outer flank in Ondo State, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in a quaint coincidence, also issued a seven-day ultimatum to Fulani hibernating in Ondo forests to get the hell out of the bushes and get registered. Akeredolu, like all right thinking Nigerians, believes that some Fulani herdsmen are engaging in criminal activities like rape, murder, kidnapping and the destruction of farm produce across Ondo State. In an order laced with the urgency of NOW, he called out the terrorizing Fulani in his domain, and almost immediately, a war of polemical attrition started between Ondo government and the Presidency.
In a tone of veiled threat and bullish arrogance, the Fulani in Buhari roared to life and felt that: “The President, who swore to defend the constitution has spoken against the Indigenous People of Biafra in asking citizens of Northern origin to leave; he did not spare the group based in Sokoto, ‘Muslim Solidarity Forum,’ which asked the Bishop of Sokoto to leave and is prepared to do all that the law permits to protect citizens all over the country in their choice of where they wished to reside and are treated as equal citizens.”
This statement from the President provides the rampaging Fulani criminal elements with a transcendent loyalty and legitimacy. There was no talk of condemnation for the ongoing criminal activities of his blood brothers across Nigeria.
Buhari honed on ethnicism, unfair stereotyping and the right of his Fulani criminals to continue to cause mayhem and destruction across Nigeria because a bogus Northern-inspired constitution guarantees that privilege. He promised also to “do all that the law permits to protect citizens all over the country”. This is a gobscmacking hypocrisy from a Fulani jihadist President who is prepared to send security forces to ensure the protection of Fulani in Yoruba land but was blindsided to the protection of protesters in Lekki Toll Gate.
Martin Luther said: “You can’t keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building nests in your hair’. Fulani may be permitted in Yoruba land but they will be resisted if their activities do not augur well for a peaceful co-existence. Yoruba and Ndigbo are Nigeria’s best tribal ambassadors in the North. They are reliable, hardworking, law abiding and culture respecters. Yoruba and Ndigbo are yet to indulge in the delusional narrative of creating parallel royal chairs to compete with the Emirs as Fulani have been doing anywhere they lay their smelly hats in the South.
Sunday Igboho is like a lion robbed of her cubs. Igboho may want to fantasise that the Yoruba nation will act with consistency, keep commitments, maintain confidence and support him, he should look back into Yoruba history to find fallen heroes to betrayal – Awolowo, Abiola – in the hand of internal enemies. Yoruba Obas are quiet and powerless. Modern day Obas are now instagram celebrities – kosogun/kosagbara set. We must not pretend that we speak with one voice. We don’t!
Igangan, as a modern day Waterloo to settle score with Fulani shenanigans in Yoruba land may look noble, gallant and chivalrous, my worry is that it may turn into Oyo ground zero to prove once again that Nigeria is in the grip of a dangerous dictator who believes not in dialogue, but in brutalizing Southerners who challenge the audacity of Fulani hegemony and privileges across Nigeria. To the valiant and lion hearted Sunday Igboho, my advice is: stay by wise counsel, then wage your war.