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The Fulani problem

The Fulani problem

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Fulani

By Duno Kogbara

I RECENTLY mentioned the widespread fury that is being generated by rogue Fulani herdsmen who rape, pillage, kidnap and kill; and I said that because some Fulanis have been extremely kind to me over the years, I cannot join those who have decided to hate all Fulanis…even though I am the product of Ogoni and Igbo “rebel” families that enthusiastically participated in the Biafran Civil War, in the hope of “liberating” themselves from the North once and for all.

Now, 50 years after my people lost the war, my social circle includes many Northerners. And, sure, there are Southerners who befriend Northerners purely or partly because they think that they might be useful (elite Northerners, Fulani Muslims especially, undoubtedly have clout and can often provide access to juicy business benefits).

Juicy business benefits

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I, however, acquired my Northern pals sincerely, because I liked them. And I’m increasingly aware of the redemptive power of friendship…in the sense that it can be a force for good beyond the warm personal interactions that take place between individuals.

Many natives of the South and Middle Belt have never had an opportunity to meet a decent Fulani, never mind bond closely with one. And I don’t blame the unexposed – sheltered villagers in remote rural hamlets in particular – for viewing all Fulanis with intense suspicion whenever toxic “alien” herdsmen go on the rampage.

But the more exposed Southerners and Middle Belters who know from personal experience that not all Fulanis are evil have a duty to loudly say so at a time when an ethno-religious crisis is boiling.

Having said all this, the primary responsibility for conflict resolution lies with the Fulani leadership – which really needs to cut the crap.

President Muhammadu Buhari is the main culprit. Whether he deliberately set out to encourage misbehaviour or not, his body language has greatly emboldened the Fulanis who have bad intentions; and there is no doubt that the herdsmen palaver has escalated under his watch.

And it’s not just about today or herdsmen either. It’s also about Fulani leaders (and their cap-doffing non-Fulani sidekicks) cockily ignoring basic principles of fairness and carrying on like arrogant, greedy conquistadors since time immemorial.

Can anyone please explain to me why the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, is dominated by Northerners – or why so many Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and Presidential Amnesty Programme contracts go to Northern mandarins or their fronts – when oil comes from the South and northerners are not more educated or commercially savvy?

Can anyone please explain to me why the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency, NIMASA, and Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, are dominated by northerners when the North has no coastline?

I am not saying that northerners should not benefit from maritime or hydrocarbon resources. It is not their fault that there is no big water or big oil in their part of the country. And since Nigeria is a nation rather than a collection of autonomous regions, every geopolitical zone should gain from Nigerian resources, regardless of the origins of those resources.

But there is a huge difference between accepting a reasonable percentage of the booty and always trying to grab the lion’s share!

Niger Delta states already receive 13 per cent derivation, so I’m not really bellyaching about the money aspect per se. I just want to point out that the Fulani leadership needs to change its attitude, which is irritating at best and downright offensive at worst.

I think it was Machiavelli who said that it was better to be feared than loved. And this statement is true within certain contexts. But there are no absolutes within the context of the human condition.

It is sometimes better to be loved. It is also worth noting that victims cease to fear bullies when they realise that bullies can be overcome. Or when desperate victims decide that they have nothing more to lose and would rather die than keep tolerating nastiness.

Long story short: Many tribes in Nigeria (especially the three main tribes) are or have been problems, in one way or another.

But for now, we are focusing on Fulanis because they are in the spotlight. And the bottom line is that the grasping, insensitive Fulani leadership may soon discover that there are some advantages associated with being loved rather than loathed!

My governor

I HAVE fulsomely praised Nyesom Wike on this page before because he can be professional and productive and compassionate. But I am extremely upset with him at the moment.

Firstly, why on earth did he have to spend $1 million on a flashy and totally unnecessary Maybach luxury car at a time when so many Rivers people and Nigerians are struggling to survive?

Secondly, why did he dash N500 million to his colleague, Governor Tambuwal, when a market in Sokoto State was destroyed by fire at a time when many impoverished elders and former Rivers State government employees have not received a dime of the severance payments and pensions to which they are entitled?

Meanwhile, the state secretariat is a mess that requires substantial investment. Electricity is a rare treat for those who work there. Recent photographs depict a septuagenarian VIP climbing endless stairs because the lifts were out of order. It’s a complete disgrace.

Why is Wike behaving like a Blingy Billionaire Big Boy at a time when he needs to be more prudent with funds that do not belong to him?

If Nigeria were a proper democracy – as opposed to a criminal conspiracy that is run by and for the ruling class – government officials would be more accountable to their constituents.

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