At the summer of last year, hundreds of people were butchered, farms destroyed and villages sacked in Plateau state. The culprits? Fulani herdsmen. And we know this because Myetti Allah, the spokes office of the herders boasted that it was a revenge. 300 cows ,they said ,were stolen and men had to die.
Now, one would imagine that the man that confessed to those mass murders on Chanels tv will be arrested. No such thing in Nigeria. When Buhari was declared winner in Nigeria’s controversial elections in February, the group said that “even cows are happy that Buhari won the elections “.
Myetti Allah suffers a violent dose of Mardi grass syndrome. It’s when a person or a group misbehaves because of a perceived protection and invincibility. For this group, the sense of protection comes from the government.
After the selection of a rubber -stamp, essentially useless national assembly, Myetti Allah said that “We are grateful ” to those that supported us”. And soon, the group told Nigeria that it wants Fulani vigilantes in the South East, an essentially foreign land. That hubris was followed by RUGA with all the backlash.
Following the worsening insecurity in Nigeria, and underscored by the murder of Funke Fasoranti -Olakunrin ,former president Olusegun Obasanjo wrote an “open letter” to the president . His concerns mirror those of most Nigerians but his had a telling tone , Mr Obasanjo being who he is. The letter foresees possible gruesome scenarios and tried to suggest steps to avoid those. “To be explicit and without equivocation, Mr. President and General, I am deeply worried about four avoidable calamities:
1. abandoning Nigeria into the hands of criminals who are all being suspected, rightly or wrongly, as Fulanis and terrorists of Boko Haram type;
2. spontaneous or planned reprisal attacks against Fulanis which may inadvertently or advertently mushroom into pogrom or Rwanda-type genocide that we did not believe could happen and yet it happened.
3. similar attacks against any other tribe or ethnic group anywhere in the country initiated by rumours, fears, intimidation and revenge capable of leading to pogrom;
4. violent uprising beginning from one section of the country and spreading quickly to other areas and leading to dismemberment of the country.
But Myetti Allah isn’t happy with Mr Obasanjo. In fact, they have asked Mr Buhari, who most say is their buddy, to “arrest Obasanjo immediate”. One of the spokesmen for the group said that
“We are not demanding too much from Nigeria. We just want space to graze our cattle”. And one would wonder where the cheekiness comes from. We shall get to that but back to the former president.
“The initiative is in the hands of the President of the nation, but he cannot do it alone. In my part of the world, if you are sharpening your cutlass and a mad man comes from behind to take the cutlass from you, you need other people’s assistance to have your cutlass back without being harmed.
The mad men with serious criminal intent and terrorism as core value have taken cutlass of security. The need for assistance to regain control is obviously compelling and must be embraced now.
But Myetti Allah isn’t comfortable with dialogue. The group wants swathes of Nigeria’s land allotted to them even as Mr Buhari has said that Fulani herdsmen are not Nigerians. They want to be able to unleash terror and mayhem unchallenged. At some point this year, it was reported that the federal government patted them on the back with $100 million to halt killings for two years. Bellicose governor of Kaduna state, El Rufai, has said that he has paid them money to stop killing. Even the governor is a blown fuse with incendiary speeches and tweets.
And Femi Fani-Kayode, ever concerned about Nigeria agreed with Mr Obasanjo:“OBJ’s letter was timely and necessary. Whoever wants him to be arrested for it should drop dead.He is attempting to save Nigeria from another civil war.Those that oppose his counsel fail to appreciate the fact that in the event of that war they will suffer more than anyone else.”
Only yesterday, Nigeria’s putative speaker of the house representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, was in Zamfara state to “meet with the commanders of bandits “. Yes. Such is the nadir that Nigeria has inexorably become. And Mr Obasanjo’s letter seeks to address such madness as paying visits to those who kill.
When RUGA was suspended, Myetti Allah gave the federal government a 30 -day ultimatum to rescind its “irresponsible” decision or else! Did Mr Buhari arrest them? No way. Why not? Well, Myetti Allah is above the law and Mr Buhari made it so.
In the killings of thousands in Benue state between 2017- and ’18, one of Mr Buhari’s responses was “please, accommodate my people”. But when confronted by Donald Trump in Washington last year, Mr Buhari lied that herdsmen only carry sticks. That the killers are men who left Muammar Ghaddafi’s Libya, 11 years ago.
Myetti Allah has threatened Femi Fani-Kayode, a member of the opposition and a cerebral critic of Mr Buhari. They warned him to keep quiet but Mr Fani -Kayode told them to walk.
And so, who are these people? The name as described by Nigeria’s infernally annoying media is the “socio-cultural umbrella group of the Fulani people “. More realistic, if bold, people say it’s the “armed wing of Nigeria’s APC”. Or a militia built by government.
When other tribes build their own militias, when citizens feel that their lives are no longer safe under the government, they will find a way to survive. This becomes war eventually. In one fashion or another. Rwanda style or Yugoslavia. But this grim prospect is what Mr Obasanjo’s letter addresses. Why Myetti finds it abhorrent begs the question of what their real motive is in Nigeria.
Without an official war, it is now very unsafe to travel across Nigeria because of the violence of Fulani herdsmen mainly .And it does not help that a group thinks it is its duty to defend wholesale crimes. It helps less that they have the voice and endorsement of the cagey presidency.
Spokesman to president Buhari over extended his servitude by warning Nigerians that “giving land to Fulanis is better than death”. Such is the abyss Nigeria has fallen. That it can go on longer with this tempo and in this direction is a fat lie. Mr Obasanjo is right. The time to save the ship is now. And the time for the captain to accept that he is in the hands of pirates is also now. Then, a collective rescue service will commence. But until then, the atmosphere can only become darker,gloomier and utterly stygian.