By Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, please, take note of the title of my column this week. I did not say Nigerians are dying. That is stale news, as well as an understatement. My focus is that the country called Nigeria is dying. I do not know what sort of security briefing President Muhammadu Buhari, regularly or periodically, receives from his obviously reticent and incompetent security team. I doubt it includes the fact that Nigeria is speeding towards a monumental collapse, unless a miracle, or something drastic is done to stop this supersonic drift towards perdition. It might even be that the President does not receive any or proper security details, either because he does not want to hear or worse still, he assumes all is well. Whichever way one contemplates these last two scenarios, it is a calamity indeed.
Believe me, I’m not writing as a wailing wailer, or as a Prophet of doom. I am not writing as a clairvoyant or a seer. I merely write as a realist. The symptoms of a failed nation are just too palpable to be missed or ignored by a reasonable people. I am not talking about a State which has failed because of social and economic policies that even the authors and protagonists cannot decipher or fathom. This nation is on the precipice because its leaders are playing Russian Roulette with the security of Africa’s biggest and most important country. It is all now a matter of guesswork, that the gun is loaded, but the way we are going it is looking like every chamber is now full and not just one. Whatever shot you fire is bound to be the killer shot. Our leaders clearly know this but are in such an inebriated state that they have become oblivious, impervious and immune to all the danger signals.
I know power makes people blind. It intoxicates, addles the mind and takes full possession of the powerful, especially if they want to play God. This is why I’m shocked that some Nigerians are already daydreaming about becoming President in 2023, when they have no guarantee that Nigeria will still be alive by then. Or maybe I should not be surprised because what better can one expect from this bungling class of crass elements. The usual leading contenders, as typical of this confounding breed of persons, are pretending that all is well, although they know much better having been the contributors to, and cause, of the problem. They must not be seen to be criticizing the rudderless, directionless and visionless government of President Buhari lest they are marked down as enemies of the President. They know that elections are never held here, stricto sensu. What we have is a selection process with the hapless people being trundled out to deceive the unsuspecting international observers who can’t believe that what they are seeing is possible even in a Banana Republic. Simply put, elections are largely controlled from the very top, where the omnipotent President holds sway, and the outcome of the selection process is dictated by his whims and caprices.
If nobody has yet told the President, then he must hear this somehow. Our security situation is more than dire and grim. It is now catastrophic. Nigerians are now being killed, kidnapped and raped in places that used to know only peace. The orgy of banditry has since moved from the core North and middle belt to Yorubaland, previously considered a safe haven. The tales are unbelievably horrid and terrible. The situation in Ondo State is so critical that the Governor Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) has now cried out that the “Fulani bandits” must move out of his State within seven days. I salute him for having the courage to say it as it is, being a member of the same party as our most reluctant President who seems unabashedly unaware of the bloody forays and operations perpetrated by some of his kinsmen in far-flung territories and domains outside their traditional space. The Governor obviously cried out in utter exasperation, frustration and, perhaps, fear. I knew him as a die-hard Buharist. But only a bastard would sit arms akimbo and watch his mother or daughter being raped by some monsters and say or do nothing! That is the situation in which Arakunrin Akeredolu has more or less found himself. As with the President, he has discovered, albeit tragically, that family comes first. Nobody will watch over yours, when theirs is also threatened by the same fate. As the Yorubas will say, “a ki so ori olori, ki awodi gbe t’eni lo”!
Osun State has virtually become a major theatre of war involving series of killings and kidnappings. I don’t know if the Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, has been as vociferous as Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), but I am sure he is slowly being driven to come to the same conclusion. Akeredolu has nothing against the Fulani. There are many great and peaceful Fulani living in different parts of Nigeria. Some generations of Fulani people have fully integrated in those communities outside their sphere of influence without anyone raising eyebrows. But these bloodthirsty wanderers and vagrants, who are said to have meandered their ways from outside Nigeria, must be flushed out and ruthlessly dealt with regardless of whether the current President of Nigeria is their godfather, avuncular mentor, swami or whatever he represents to them.
The situation in Oyo State is just as scary. I have read the account from no less a personage than the highly respected and revered Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, another die-hard Buharist who now appears ready to part ways with Buhari if necessary. I have had the opportunity of sitting with Iku Baba Yeye, as we fondly call him, and I know how disappointed this esteemed traditional ruler is that the Federal Government has refused to act speedily and decisively on the matter of the gross insecurity ravaging and destroying the country. I was not surprised to receive his lengthy letter to the President days ago which I hope Buhari found time to read, or someone found the opportunity to read to him. I won’t bother to talk about very reserved and highly respectable and regarded Northern Leaders led by the spiritual monarch, The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, a cosmopolitan and cerebral leader I have come to love and adulate so much for his simplicity and forthrightness. Virtually every part of the nation is haemorrhaging to death while the Federal Government is watching helplessly and hopelessly!
The Alaafin has done well by properly documenting some of the dastardly acts of these merciless bandits and his public missive to our President, Muhammadu Buhari excerpts of which are worth repeating on these pages because the letter is one for posterity whatever fate befalls the entity presently known as Nigeria and whichever way the country goes in the end:
“In recent times however, I am worried about the security situation in the country, especially in the South West geo-political zone, nay the entire Yoruba-speaking area of the country including KWARA, Kogi, and Edo States.
“This has to do with the incessant and increasing menace of Fulani herdsmen that have laid siege in almost all the highways of Yorubaland. Whether in Owo, AKURE, Ilesanmi/Ife-Ibadan Road or Ibarapa zone and Ijebu area of Ogun State, the story is the same.
“I have held series of consultations with opinion moulders and eminent Yoruba leaders across board about the menace of these cattle herdsmen with such assault like raping of our women and on some occasions in the presence of their husbands. That is apart from massive destruction of our agricultural lands; which ultimately points to imminent starvation…
“After due consultations with Yoruba leaders… we are worried by the audacity of these lawless people in effecting their illegal acts in broad daylight on our usually bushy highways without any arm of security being able to do anything…
“Now, we cannot even talk of parading suspects, when in actual sense, no major arrests have been made in this part of the country. Without arrests we cannot talk of their facing of the law.
“Unfortunately, and painfully indeed, in the face of the apparent helplessness of our security agencies, where do we go from here?”
It is at the wake of this manifest frustration of our people that our people have found it unavoidable, even though reluctantly to resort to alternative measures to safeguard their lives and property… Today, it is not merely infraction in the course of doing business, but blatant and criminal violation of the constitutional right to life and liberty of innocent citizens of Yoruba land. A few publicly known instances will suffice.
Certain individuals were kidnapped along Erio-Aromoko Road, Ekiti State. They were tortured and exposed to danger in the forest for upward of two weeks.
These victims included the Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikole Branch, Adeola Adebayo, whose decomposing body was eventually found after a ransom price of four million Naira had been paid.
Two officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps, both Yoruba, were picked up along Ilesa-Akure highway. In the process of this kidnap, an unnamed individual died.
Musibau Adetumbi, a legal practitioner based in Ibadan, was going to attend an Appeal Court session in Akure when he was kidnapped along Ilesa-Akure highway. Professor Adegbehingbe, a surgeon at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife was abducted along Ibadan-Ile-Ife highway. Dr. Muslim Omoleke, the Administrative Secretary of the National Electoral Commission was kidnapped around Ilesa, Osun State.
Mr Ayo Oladele, an employee of Guinness Nigeria, and an Old Student of Christ School, Ado-Ekiti, was abducted and taken away and lately, Dayo Adewole, son of a member of your 2015-2019 executive council and Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole was kidnapped on his farm at Iroko, a village along Ibadan-Oyo Road…
As ugly as the picture above seems to be, the people of Yoruba land have remained generally peaceful and have resisted concerted efforts to push them into civil disobedience or adopting self-help mechanisms to protect themselves…
I am therefore writing to you, as a concerned stakeholder in your administration, to alert you and demonstrate to you, the urgency of the need to quickly respond to these and other issues concerning Yoruba land….
There is a general impression among opposition group that you are not known to take decisive and proactive steps in many matters of national interest and that you are not usually too disturbed about the gale of insecurity in Yoruba land…
As no major arrest of Fulani pseudo herdsmen has been made till date in Yoruba land, suspects cannot be paraded, let alone arraigned…
I am aware that members of the Odua People’s Congress scattered all over the world are already being mobilized to stand in the defence of their land and are ready, willing and able to raise an army of volunteers as was done in 1968 by the Agbekoya…”
These are pearly words of wisdom and advice from a monarch who is practically deified in Yoruba land. The President has been stridently admonished and strongly advised in forceful, resounding and vibrating language which is reverberating all over the polity. Effectively, Alaafin Adeyemi is saying that enough is enough and that things will get pretty unpleasant and nasty, pretty soon, unless the President wakes up from his deep, almost comatose, slumber and does the needful by a wholesale revamp and reshaping of our security architecture and thereby protect his fellow Nigerian citizens. The President swore to uphold our Constitution, it is about time that he started upholding that oath by acting like a patriotic Nigerian and safeguarding all his people and preserving their property.
On a similar note, I have been watching the videos of a militant Yoruba man, named Sunday Igboho, from Oyo State and what I see is raw determination to unleash mayhem, if need be, to protect his kinsmen from the brigands and mosstroopers trampling on them and their rights. The views Igboho expresses are symptomatic and reflective of the views of most of Yoruba land. He is the latest Yoruba hero for his fearlessness.
I hope and pray that President Buhari would appreciate this authentic security briefing from The Alaafin, one of Africa’s most important custodians of tradition and culture and resist the temptation of sending his trigger-happy military against the people of Oyo State. They are obviously ready for a full-scale showdown and battle in order to redeem their manhood against the rampaging kidnappers, rapists, raiders and corsairs. I foresee a civil war and bloodbath if action is not taken soon.
May this cup pass over us…