By Eric Elezuo
Many of the appellations with which immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan was described prior to the 2015 Presidential Elections included ‘kindergarten president, clueless, misfit, absentee president among others. His detractors believed then that he was not fit to be president, and so a lot of aspersions was cast on him, leading to his losing credibility, and eventually losing the presidential election.
Then enter President Muhammadu Buhari, a man touted as the messiah Jonathan could never be; a man who will fix a horribly damaged Nigeria by Jonathan and his co-travellers; a man who will build four refineries within the first four years of his administration; a man who will bring naira at par with the dollar as against the N168 to one dollar which Jonathan’s incompetent administration took it to; a man who will pay monthly stipend to the aged and unemployed; a man who will completely eradicate corruption and graft; the man who will obliterate insurgency occasioned by the menace of the dreaded Boko Haram, and of course the man who will reunite Nigerians and eliminated the feathering ambers of ethnicism, tribalism an nepotism.
Buhari was the magician with the golden wand, whose antecedents as a former Head of the State (January, 1984 – August 1985), were certain to make him rescue Nigeria from the quagmire of maladministration. He was so talented, endowed and of course detribalised, or so the elites believed. And of course made fellow toe their lines. Today, Buhari is the president today, and not a few agreed that things have fallen apart and the centre can no longer hold (apologies to respected writer, Chinua Achebe, and by extension to William Butler, who first used the expression in His poem The Second Coming), and the irony of it all is that the president has remained aloof, watching the different tribes and creed of the nation going for one another’s jocular, beating very loud the drums of war.
The drama that escalated the ethnic divide started very early in the administration of President Buhari, even as the President’s executive appointments were lopsided, creating rooms majorly for officer of northern extracts as against their southern counterparts. The Igbo, from the South East were the worse hit. The region was ‘marginalised’, paving the way for the rising of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, whose penchant for the restoration of the Biafran nation grew bolder. He began his campaign for the restoration of Biafra, kicking off from where his kinsman, Ralph Uwazuruike, stopped. Kanu’s method was verbose, crude and without caution, and so drew the irk of Buhari, who had already categorised the region as the 5% of his administration; a people he cared very about. His primary concern was on the 97% that voted for him.
Nnamdi Kanu’s approach earned him an arrest and incarceration. He was however, granted bail in 2017 with Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, standing surety for him. He mysteriously escaped from the country in September of 2018 when the Nigerian army, in a brutal operation, code named Operation Python Dance, invaded his home. Reports had it that some people were killed in the operation. He was to resurfaced in Israel about a year later. Ever since Kanu has remained a thorn in the flesh of the Buhari administration, singing war songs since his proposed referendum to decide the fate of Nigeria has constantly been bluffed.
With Kanu’s agitation on the side, the South West governors, sensing the inability of the Buhari’s government to protect the region of Fulani herdsmen made their incursion unhindered into the region, killing and maiming at will. It took the killing of Pa Reuben Fasoranti’s daughter, Mrs olufunke Olakunri, for the region to rally round and formed its own paramilitary outfit, Amotekun. The outfit was programmed to patrol the forest of the region and provide the needed security for their people. But the killings, maiming and intimidation persisted. The state governors appeared helpless, and so entered Sunday Adeyemi, popularly known as Igboho.
On January 15, 2021, he issued a one week ultimatum for the criminal elements among the Fulani herdsmen to quit Igangan, in Oyo state. He wasn’t bluffing. He returned exactly one week after and sacked the Fulani settlement, and sent the Seriki Fulani packing. Igboho reportedly insisted that the Seriki, a popular herder, must leave the town, saying so many people fingered him to be behind the insecurity in the area. He accused the Fulani community in the area of masterminding abductions, killings, and other criminal activities in the area. In its version of the report, Daily Trust states that though Igboho did not fight the Fulani residents in Oyo state as speculated on social media, he insisted they must leave the state and the entire Yorubaland, if kidnapping continues.
However, the Oyo governor, Seyi Mkinde and human rights activist, Femi Falana as well as the Presidency faulted the move. But Falana agreed that it is the abdication of the duty of the government that had made the Sunday Igbohos to be relevant in the society.
“That is why private citizens give quit notices to people from other parts of the country. It is not the right way to fight this problem. We need to have ranches, in Oyo State in particular. The largest abattoir in West Africa is located in Oyo State but the state government has not allowed the abattoir to function for the past nine years. Is that how to run a country?
“The scientific way of solving this problem has been abandoned. So, why would a Sunday Igboho not take over the government of that state? That is what is going on,” he added.
Falana stated that there were genuine fears and facts on ground that the lives and properties in that state and in many states of the country were not safe, saying that the government must remove the basis of this quit notice by ensuring that lives and property of every person in Nigeria in safe.
From Zamfara to Niger to Plateau to Enugu to Katsina and Bauchi, among the other states, the story has remained the same. Untold animosity among the ethnic nationalities. The level of suspicion among one another has become turbo-charged, and accusations and counter accusations have become the other of the day. On one hand is the Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom against the Bauchi State, Mohammed Bala, who alluded support for the use of AK-47 by herdsmen. There is the Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, and his South west colleagues against the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, and recently, the Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu against the Senator representing Kogi West, Smart Adeyemi. The country seems to be in a state of topsy turvy. And in all these, where is the chief executive? The Nigeria nation steadily heads to the precipice. Many analyst has said that it is presently sitting on a keg on gunpowder, and explosion is just a matter of time.
In the East, Nnamdi Kanu has floated a well kitted security outfit, named Eastern Security Network (ESN). Their mandate is to patrol the Eastern forest towards flushing out criminal elements therein while in the North the activities of the bandits, cattle rustlers and herdsmen continue to make life miserable for the residents. The name of the terrorists changes as fits the narrator.
But while an Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi is pampering bandits, who have hitherto abducted citizens running into hundreds among them students, in the presence of security operatives, the the said security operatives are in Orlu, conducting massive strikes against the ESN operatives, killing and rounding up many of them according to reports. Consequently, Nnamdi Kanu has issued the Nigerian military a 40-days ultimatum to vacate Orlu, and the East generally. Is it war looming again?
Additionally, a mild pandemonium was witnessed along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway on Friday when a joint team of policemen and the Department of State Services allegedly attempted to arrest Yoruba activist, Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho.
According to a statement signed by a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, Igboho was on his way to meet with 93-year-old Afenifere Chieftain, Ayo Adebanjo, when the incident occurred.
The statement read in part, “I just spoke to my brother Sunday Igboho. He told me there was a violent attempt to arrest him this afternoon by a joint team of soldiers, DSS operatives and policemen numbering about 40 on the Ibadan/Lagos Expressway whilst he was on his way to see Baba Ayo Adebanjo in Lagos.
“I condemn this attempt to ambush and abduct him. It is not only reckless but also very dangerous. If the security agencies want to see him all they need to do is to invite him to their office. I am not aware of any crime that he has committed and I urge restraint on all sides.
“Let me also send a warning to the Federal Government that Sunday Igboho is a hero to millions of Yoruba and either killing him or detaining him unlawfully would be the biggest mistake they could make. Building bridges, dialogue and the pursuit of peace is better than intimidation, threats, violence and war. A word is enough for the wise.”
The DSS has however, denied any attempt to arrest Ugboho.
The enmity that has engulfed the north and south is better imagined, and stakeholders have said that even at that, Buhari continues to play the ethnic and nepotic cards. All his appointments have been unapologetically north. The appointment of Abdullahi Bawa as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is just the icing on the cake.
Testimonies of many people who survived the bandits, especially the recently released travellers, point towards the fact that the terrorists are equipped for full scale war by the sophistication of the weapons they bear.
On Friday, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Obadiah Mailafia, said it was the people who planned for Jonathan to leave office that are sponsoring bandits.
He said, “During the 2015 elections they brought in thousands of foreigners into this country, armed them because it was a case of if Goodluck Jonathan doesn’t surrender, there will be war. They were ready for civil war; they were not ready for peace.
“Of course, Jonathan handed over to them and then they turned their backs on the hoodlums and the hoodlums said ‘look, you brought us here and we are still here’.”
He frowned at a situation where the people are not equally treated, saying it was not acceptable.
“…but I think the people in government have to be objective and treat us equally. Someone says one thing and they go after him. Others say worse things and they are treated with kid gloves,” he said.
Nigeria rejected Jonathan in 2015 with the sincere hope of encountering a positive change through Mr Integrity, Buhari, but the hope has turned to despondency as by the way things are now, it is either a round table or violent split that will make the necessary amends.
The world therefore, watches, hoping Mr President will stagger out of his splendid aloofness, and take charge, except of course he is in love of what is happening presently. Time will tell!