“The intellectuals are the worst peddlers of tribalism.”-Christopher Okigbo,
Happenings in Nigeria, especially the tragic ones, and the way people reacted to them, speak volumes about the hypocrisy and double standard in what we see as Nigeria and the privileged, seemingly theological essence we attach to tribal affiliations as our absolute, transcendental identities. During the administration of President Jonathan, population at many villages were virtually wiped out in some parts of Kaduna, Zamfara and Katsina states. Herds of cattle were stolen and in some cases completely destroyed. The herdsmen were brutally killed and few of them managed to flee the country. Niger Republic was safer despite the difficulty in feeding the cattle. In some Fulani settlements, within few radius of my village, many Fulanis were killed and their cattle rustled. In Katsina state, one of the attack in Faskari LG coincided with President Jonathan’s visit. The attack came same morning the President was commissioning some of the projects by the state government. These unfortunate incidents were not properly covered by the media. In fact, none of the northerners, I mean the elite class, gave the then President an ultimatum to stop the carnige. The President did not care so mush as to condemn some of the attacks. Perhaps, because they were so rampant that he became tired of issuing statements.
The Boko Haram came and the previous administration evidently, from what we know as #DasukiGate, neglected and perpetuated the murder of God-Knows the number of innocent people, allowing the war to linger because #dollars were being poured into the big men’s bank accounts. The then President was so reckless that in one interview said the Boko Haram was just a case in one state and there was no need for the concern shown by the international communities.
These issues were considered by the non-northerners as Hausa/Fulani problems. It was “dem people killing dem.” The affected people were not seen as Nigerians but as ‘abokis’, ‘mallams’, ‘hausas/ausas/Fulanis’ and other derogatory terms.
The Fulani herdsmen were persecuted in many parts of their country. In some communities in Benue state, it was almost a tradition for the indigenous people to raid the cattle of Fulani and lynch them to death, often by setting them ablaze. It occurred in Plateau state too. Some incidents in the south are not even reported by the media because they were not worth reporting. These herdsmen became victims in their immediate communities and in many parts of the country.
The recent Agatu and Enugu attacks by the so-called Fulani herdsmen tells a lot about the hypocrisy and fallacy of Nigeria as a country. Two extremes emerged. On one hand, many people in the north felt indifferent to these national tragedies. On the other, a former cocaine-addicted minister told the incumbent President to “talk to his people”, the herdsmen. They are seen as Fulanis, same tribe with the President, not as Nigerians. The President too is seen as a Fulani, not the first citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The official statements of the NPF, the institution charged by the constitution to look after the internal security of the country said the attackers are not Fulanis. But for two incidents now, in Nassarawa states, many Fulanis are killed with hundreds of their cattle also tasting the bitterness of what was called reprisal attackers. I still find it difficult to understand the babaric, savage, primitive and irrational motive behind shooting and killing of cattle for a supposedly crime committed by their owners. In Nigeria, there is no organisation that protects the rights of animals. The whole country keeps mum, as usual-“its dem problem.”
The people call Nigerians see themselves as tribal entities. The term Nigeria is a fallacy used every four years to get some votes.
It is so unfortunate that the Fulanis and their cattle don’t have a protecting angels.
May God Bless Nigeria with a recognition by its citizens to see themselves as Nigerians first.
Dikko Muhammad is a lecturer at UMYUK and the Pioneer SUG President of the same university.