Femi-Fani Kayode is a lawyer, a Nigerian politician, an evangelical christian, an essayist, a poet and a former Minister of Aviation.
- Fulani Herdsmen: An interesting conversation with an old friend, By Femi Fani-Kayode
- A boiling Southern Cauldron and the insults of The Northern Governors, By Femi Fani-Kayode
Fulani Herdsmen: An interesting conversation with an old friend, By Femi Fani-Kayode
The following discussion took place on my Facebook friends page on May 2nd 2016. Since it is already in the public realm I have taken the liberty of.sharing it in my column as well.
Though we have not seen much of each other for a while I have known Alhaji Muktari Shinkafi for the better part of the last 35 years and we are more like brothers than friends.
We spent a lot of time together in our youth and in those heady and blissful days of the early and mid-1980’s when I was still at Cambridge University and when I spent most of my leisure time playing polo at the Lagos Polo Club or at the Guards Polo Club in the U.K., eating caviar and drinking champagne. We had great fun in those days and Nigeria was a much better and happier place than it is now.
At that time Lagos was something of a melting pot and everybody that was anybody in the country had a home there. These were the days before Abuja was built and Lagos was still our nations capital.
Most people were very comfortable then because the naira was still strong at approximately two naira to one dollar. It was often the case that people would travel to London, the South of France or the Bahamas for long weekends with their loved ones and be back in Lagos for monday morning. Then of course there was late night chicken suya in Obalende which was always a delight. I wonder if they still have that?
More importantly it really didn’t matter which part of the country you came from or what your religious faith was because nobody cared in those days.
The only thing that mattered was whether you had a good education, a good pedigree and whether you had class. Whether you were a northerner, a southerner, a christian or a muslim didn’t matter at all. Lagos was home to all and we loved it.
It was in that pleasant setting that Muktari and I became close together with a large number of other Polo Club buffs.
His older brother, a legend in intelligence circles and in the world of spying, the former head of Nigeria’s dreaded spy agency the NSO, a much loved and reverred elderstatesman and the former Presidential candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention, Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, the Marafan Sokoto, brought me into politics in 1989 and he was my leader and political mentor for many years.
Simply put Marafan was like a second father to me. He was a an arch-conservative and a man of immense discipline and courage and all of us at the Lagos Polo Club were in absolute awe of him. When he walked in the room with his head held up high there would be pin drop silence as we all stood up.
We were his boys and we were all very proud of that fact. I learnt everything from him from the art of politics to the murky and grey world of espionage.
In addition to that I had the distinct honor and privilage of being appointed as his Special Assistant in 1992 when he ran for the Presidency before General Ibrahim Babangida banned him, General Shehu Musa Yaradua (who was the presidential flagbearer for the rival Social Democratic Party) and all the other “oldbreed” politicians from contesting.
I have nothing but the deepest respect and affection for the Shinkafi family and that remains so till today. I was therefore delighted when Muktari made his contributions on my Facebook wall.
The conversation was prompted by the fact that I posted some graphic pictures of the victims of the Fulani herdsmen in Agatu and Enugu. Those pictures can still be seen on my Facebook friends page.
Muktari did not feel that it was appropiate to post the pictures and the following conversation took place between him and I on the thread.
I believe that it was an interesting discussion which brought out two distinct and separate perspectives (if you like call them the northern and southern ones) to the whole issue of the Fulani herdsmen.
I believe that both sides have something to learn from one another on this issue which is why I chose to share it with my readers. Enjoy!
MUKTARI SHINKAFI wrote:
“Since we already have the Senate and House of Representatives in place, it will be easier to bring the issue next week of dividing Nigeria immediately after the budget issue.
The division of the country should be proposed based on six Geo-polical zones based on the following basis and natural / human resources to sustain each zone.
1. South south oil, sea port,
2. South west, service industry, sea port, agriculture
3. South east . Oil,, commerce
4. Middle belt. Agriculture, solid minerals
5. North east. Oil, agriculture
6. North west. Oil, strategic solid minerals, agriculture.
We in the north don’t deserve this negative propaganda and name-calling.
Let us separate peacefully for the sake of our children since even after the separation, we will be surely bonded together by commerce and personal relationship.
We have millions down there that we are friends through business, marriages etc. I dont think posting these pictures is necessary as no one is sure of their source, they may be accident victims but some people are posting them to propagate messages of hate among us”.
FEMI FANI-KAYODE responded:
“Before I would post such pictures on my wall I have to be certain of their authenticity and in this case I am.
There are other pictures which are far worse and which I cannot post here. My brother, your people kill ours and we are not supposed to even complain about it or let the world know what is happening?
Enough of this madness. If the Fulani leaders cannot reign in their herdsmen and terrorists themselves then we will do it for them.
This barbarity has been going on in the Middle Belt and core north for years unchallenged and now you guys want to extend it to the south.
We will not take it, we will not allow it and we will not sit by idly as your kinsmen slaughter, rape and abduct our men, women and children and occupy our land.
It has been going on for far too long and now we are prepared to resist it. I agree with you that maybe it is time that we begin to consider the division of this country and the best way to start is simply to let the core north go its separate way first and leave the rest of us alone.
Either that or a clean north/south break. We in the south cannot be expected to continue to live peacefully with what the Global Terror Index has described as the first (Boko Haram) and the fourth (Fulani militants/herdsmen) most deadly terror organisations in the world.
They both come from the north and the so-called northern leaders would do well to look within, accept the fact that they have a major problem with their youth and try to fix it.
What baffles me is that most northern leaders are more concerned about the fact that these atrocities are being exposed before the world and evidence of it is being adduced than the fact that people are being killed.
They are very comfortable with it when the slaughter is being done in silence but when we scream about it they get upset. This strange and alien mindset is unacceptable to us.
If this rubbish goes on, sooner or later, the south will rise up as one together with our brothers in the Middle Belt and there will be a terrible reckoning.
I do not spread hate and I have no hate in me for anyone or any ethnic group. The truth is that, as you know, one eighth of the blood that flows through my veins is Fulani. I cannot hate myself.
You know very well that our leader and older brother, the Marafan Sokoto, brought me into politics in 1989 and I love him as if he were my father.
Yet the north no longer has strong, decisive and fair minded political leaders like Marafan or gentle, kind, wise and accomodating ones like President Shehu Shagari. That is the problem. If Marafan was President today this herdsmen problem would have been history long ago and so would Boko Haram.
He would care as much for the south and the safety of its people as he would have for the north where he comes from. Yet how many northern leaders think like that today?
As I wrote in my last column there are a few like Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umar, Nuhu Ribadu, Kashim Ibrahim Imam, Col. Sambo Dasuki, Ibrahim Turaki SAN, Atiku Abubakar and a few others but not many.
What is in me and millions of other southerners and Middle Belters is not hate for the Fulani or the core north but anger: a very great and powerful anger that is growing by the day.
We trusted and loved you like brothers for the last 56 years but in recent times what have we got in return except for suspicion, persecution, misunderstanding, violence and pain. First it was Boko Haram and now it is cold blooded murder and the claiming of our lands by your herdsmen.
Nobody can take all that with a smile. Nobody can tell us to take it all and keep quiet. You are my brother and you always will be. We go back such a long way and it pains me to write all this.
Yet the truth is that if only the north could change its attitude and leadership we could all be one big happy family again.
Sadly though they will not because there are a few northern leaders who relish all that is happening today and who believe in the utter crushiing, destruction and subjugation of everything and everyone south of the River Niger”.
MUKTARI SHINKAFI replied:
“honestly we the northerners have been at the receiving end since the beginning of this insurgency and fulani herdsmen terrorism. If the division of Nigeria will bring peace, we wholeheartedly welcome the idea and the sooner the National Assembly begins deliberation the better.”
FEMI FANI-KAYODE responded:
“We both know that the National Assembly will not do it because the northern legislators and those that they represent are addicted to southern oil.
We can do it without the National Assembly if we so wish and the way things are going now we are getting close to that final parting day.
All we have to do is to begin to mobilise our people and tell them the benefits of going our separate ways and breaking up the country.
I guess it is long overdue. When that day comes the parting of ways will be peaceful if the north lets us go in peace but if they try to stop us it will not be so peaceful”.
MUKTARI SHINKAFI replied:
“I think the issue here is that you refused to acknowledge the frustrations of all Nigerians. We are all making these comments and postings because of total failure of the APC governmemt to address critical challenges facing the nation instead, its over one year now but they are still associating their failure to PDP which to me is a sign that they just won the election without proper plan but based on change propaganda.
Where are Bakassi boys, kidnappers and the Niger Delta militants ? Since the government cannot protect our brothers and communities there, let them come out and protect its people against these bandits (herdsmen).
They killed 25 people in my local government 10 days ago, stole grains and their valuables.
We resorted to use the vigilantes and our young men to protect our farmers from the so called herdsmen bandits from neighbouring countries. Its time government take this issue seriously and i believe our police, armed forces and civil defence can take them out squarely, grazing reserve will not solve the problems because these criminals are not the same fulanis we knew years ago.
They used to live peacefully on hausa farmlands grazing their animals but today, Hausas are their worst enemies”.
FEMI FANI-KAYODE responded:
“I acknowlwdge the fact that it happens in the core north too but if the leaders and people of the core north can live with it the rest of us cannot.
They have a duty to fight it and to put a stop to it more than anyone else because these beasts, militants and religious extremists that call themselves Fulani herdsmen are their kinsmen.
They are their slaves and their serfs. The cows that they are herding all over the country and destroying peoples lives for belong to the Fulani elites and not to the herdsmem or cattle-rearers themselves.
The herdsmen are too poor to own the cows and they do not have the resources to purchase the AK 47’s that they carry around and kill people with.
It is their sponsors, the Fulani elites that provide all that and, together with the government agencies, they also give them protection and free passage. Since President Buhari came to power they have been virtually untouchable and so have their cows!
What you said about APC’s incompetence and inability to run government is true though. The APC more than anyone else used religion and ethnicity to win power at the center.
They are not only the Boko Haram party but also the Fulani herdsmen party. Even though there are a few token and Uncle Tom Christians in their midst they are essentially like the banned Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
They believe in the total and complete domination of all other tribes by the Fulani and they wish to islamise our country.
That is their agenda and for the last ten months we have witnessed it all unfold before our very eyes. That together with the obsessive drive to use the various security agencies to discredit and destroy President Goodluck Jonathan’s legacy and to ruthlessly silence and persecute all dissenting voices.
I warned Nigerians during the presidential campaign that this was their agenda but they wouldn’t listen. Now they know better”.
The conversation ended there. My brother Muktari did not respond to my final contribution and we have not spoken since then. Despite all I still cherish him and I hope that we shall remain brothers even after the great divide if it ever comes.
No matter what happens in the end I will never forget those beautiful and youthful days in Lagos when we were proud of our rainbow nation, when we were all one and when tribe, faith and tongue did not matter.
A boiling Southern Cauldron and the insults of The Northern Governors, By Femi Fani-Kayode
Written by Femi Fani-Kayode
~Vanguard, Nigeria. Monday, May 2, 2016
Last week I wrote an essay titled ‘The Road To Kigali‘ which was widely published.
The callous response of the northern governors to the horrendous events in Enugu has compelled me to write this contribution as something of a follow-up.
These are difficult and troubling times and they are times that the truth needs to be spoken more than ever. I appreciate those that publish my contributions in my various columns because, in a country that hates to hear the truth and that finds it difficult to comprehend and grasp reality, that in itself takes courage.
I also appreciate the increasingly large number of Nigerians from all over the world that take the time to read my weekly contributions because without them there would be no point in writing. Now to the matter at hand.
On 30th April 2016 Mr. George Akinola wrote the following words on Facebook.
“When the Fulani exploded on the geographic space later christened Nigeria in 1804 they did not negotiate power with the Hausas, they seized it from them on the battlefield.
When the same Fulani appeared in Ilorin in 1823, purportedly to assist Afonja, the Are-ona-kakanfo of Oyo and the ruler of Ilorin, in revolt against his sovereign, Alafin Aole, the Alafin of Oyo, it was to gain his confidence for a while and a vantage position to murder him. Ilorin has been under Fulani rule since then and up until today.
When the British colonised all these empires, kingdoms and fiefdoms in the 19th century, it was not out of love for the black man.
It was an imperialistic push for more land, more territories to exploit minerals and other resources from. If you did not agree by subtle pressure, they simply applied the brute force. To hell with you and all you cared for!
When the Fulani attacked Yorubaland in 1825, they gave all our ancestors notice that they intended to bury the Quran in the sea at the backyard of the Yoruba empire and kingdoms.
Meaning? They will kill, destroy, maim, trample on men, women, children and all that we hold dear to achieve this goal. This was not by negotiation or a bargaining deal.
Blood was on the cards and red was its colour. Thank God for the fierce resistance of the Yoruba, rallying at Ibadan.
If not, maybe we will be doing “ranka dede” for one clown Emir of Ado-Ekiti or another comedian Emir of Abeokuta today.
Power does not give way to persuasion. Power only succumbs to superior power.
Fast forward to 1960. The new nation had just gained independence. But the drums of drunken power was already pulsating with madness in the heart of Ahmadu Bello, the leader of NPC, the party that won the 1959 elections, and which assumed the reins of power to lead Nigeria at independence.
Note that this was the great grandson of Uthman Dan Fodio, the leader of the 1804 Fulani Jihad. He made his intention, and the intention of the Fulani, clear in this now infamous statement: Hear Ahmadu Bello in the Parrot Newspaper of 12th October, 1960:
"The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather Uthman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We use the minorities in the North as willing tools and the south as a conquered territory and never allow them to rule over us and never allow them to have control over their future".
I am sure you did not read any entreaties of love, affection and camaraderie disposition in that statement. It was harsh, callous, wicked, sadistic, exploitative, intimidating and wholesomely damning.
That is drunken power talking with inspiration from the lunatic fringe.
When he eventually paid for it with his life, his inheritors found a way to re-invent their stranglehold on Nigeria.
They came in through the military and continued, in a more draconian fashion, the bleeding exploitation of Nigeria. What we inherited from the British was “self-governing Regions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Now we are forcibly united by an un-feeling centre. What we inherited was a revenue allocation formula that was largely derivative.
Now it is almost ‘allocative’. At a point, Mohammed Buhari reduced the 50% derivation formula to 1%.
These parasites are barracudas and Shylocks of the highest order.
The only language these savages understand is the one that brought them there in the first case: force.
This may be subtle through the use of the instrumentality of guerrilla journalism, protests, occupation, civil resistance, civil disobedience, referendum, United Nations appeal, International coalition of forces, etc.
On the other hand it may boom through the barrel of the gun in a violent uprising or revolt, civil or guerrilla warfare.
Either way, force is force.
The irreducible decimal is that the Yoruba reject enslavement, the appropriation of their resources without their approval and illegal occupation of their God given land with all iota of their soul and with all the power in their being.
Whether for one second or for 200 years the enemy shall not feel comfortable until they leave.
With reference to how they will leave, however, the choice remains theirs: either on foot, running helter-skelter, on stretchers, in trailers, buses, straddled on horses or loaded in coffins.
But, leave, they shall, when superior power speaks!”
These are harsh and frightful words yet
Mr. Akinola’s historical analysis and assesment is first class. He has spoken nothing but the truth no matter how bitter that truth may be. This takes courage and I commend him for it.
I deplore violence and I do not advocate or condone it in any shape or form. I do not want anyone to leave our land “loaded in coffins” or in body bags and neither do I believe that violence and bloodshed leads to anything but even more violence and bloodshed. It is nothing but a vicious cycle.
However the type of rhetoric that is now being expressed by our southern youth and intellectuals about the situation in Nigeria and particularly about the excesses of the Fulani cannot be ignored or downplayed.
We ignore the words of people like Mr. George Akinola, Mr. Babatunde Gbadamosi, Mr. Grandson Soyemi and so many others at our own peril.
Clearly there is tension and anger in the land. The spirit of division is rife and it is getting stronger by the day. Things are getting hotter and tempers are flaring. Nigeria is begininning to unravel at the seams. We must all be very careful not to set a match to the tinderbox.
Thankfully there are still a number of Fulani and non-Fulani voices in the north who represent a moderate and sane disposition and who have nothing to do with the hegemonist or religious agenda of the bigots and the hardliners.
I am talking about men like Colonel Abubakar ‘Dangiwa’ Umar, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Alhaji Kashim Ibrahim Imam, Alhaji Ibrahim Turaki SAN and so many others. I know every single one of these individuals and I can vouch for them.
These are the sort of people that are still holding the country together by giving southerners hope that the voice of moderation, reason and restraint still exists in the north and that that voice may eventually prevail. Yet the fire continues to burn on the mountain and tempers are still rising.
The insulting warning to the south from the 19 northern governors just the other day made matters worse. This contribution did not help to calm the storm but instead it has further frayed nerves. Simply put the northern governors have rubbed raw salt into our southern wounds.
They said that southerners should “not insult the Fulani again” and that even though they deplored what their kinsmen, the Fulani herdsmen, did in Enugu the other day, that does not mean that “their people” ought to be insulted.
This is all they had to say after thousands of southerners have been killed, maimed, raped, abducted and tortured in the sanctity of their own homes and land by the Fulani militants and herdsmen over the last one year alone and after over one hundred igbos were slaughtered in Enugu state just a few days ago.
They even went a step further by saying that they intend to take the cue from Kaduna state and introduce the licensing of all Churches and preachers in all the states of the north.
This is a deep insult to every Christian worth his salt, to the clergy and to the Church. It is also a surreptitious attempt to curb the spreading of the gospel in northern Nigeria. If ever the northetn governors had an all-time low this is it.
Instead of them burying their heads in shame and appealing to the rest of Nigeria to forgive them and their kith and kin for their collective and historical sins the Fulani leaders are still issuing threats to the rest of us through their surrogates, leaders and governors.
This is unacceptable. Such reckless arrogance and callous insensitivity does not serve them well and neither does it engender peace and reconciliation in our country. Instead it is provocative and insulting and it can only lead to a greater degree of alienation and more misunderstanding.
Sadly the 17 southern governors could not even muster the resolve to organise their own meeting and respond to the slur in a virile and responsible manner. Instead they all ran for cover and chose to dwell in the safety and comfort of a cowardly and conspiratorial silence.
How I wish that men like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Leader of the Yoruba, Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the Ikenga of Igboland, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, the former Senate President, Chief Alfred Rewane, one of the greatest and most fearless southern elders that ever lived and Chief Harold Dappa Biriye, the Leader of the Ijaw nation were still with us. How I wish that men like Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Orji Uzor Kalu and Chimaroke Nnamani were still governors. How I wish that people like Ojo Maduweke and Ebenezer Babatope were still Federal Ministers.
Meanwhile the people of the south are still grieving and suffering immeasurable pain as a consequence of the gratuitous violence and evil that we have been subjected to at the hands of these murderous Fulani herdsmen over the last ten months.
We are still mourning our dead and indeed all the innocent and defenceless souls, including women and children, that were murdered in cold blood in Enugu state just a few days ago.
The truth is that as long as those that represent the Fulani militants and herdsmen continue to try to justify or rationalise their beastly behaviour and threaten the south there will be people like Mr. George Akinola who will respond with the sort of rhetoric that he has expressed in this contribution.
There would also be far more than mere rhetoric and this, more than anything else, saddens me because I am a man of peace and I deplore violence.
Yet you cannot expect people to sit by silently and watch their loved ones and kith and kin being slaughtered like christmas turkeys and sallah rams on a daily basis by a bunch of uncouth, vulgar and unlettered barbaric beasts who are suffering from some kind of vampiric blood lust and who are plagued and afflicted with a cult-like Janjaweed syndrome.
It would be most unwise for the Fulani leaders and indeed the leaders of the north to ignore such sentiments and dismiss them with the usual contempt.
It is important that the Fulani militants and herdsmen are reigned in and that they stop killing southerners and occupying our land.
It is important that the master plan to subjugate the people of the south to perpetual bondage and slavery at the hands of the Fulani be stopped.
It is only when that happens that we can guarantee lasting peace in our nation. It is only when this is done that people like Mr. George Akinola and all the other young rising southern stars will stop saying the sort of things that they are saying.
It is only when that happens that they will stop speaking and reflecting the minds of millions of southerners who are fed up with what is going on in our country and who are prepared to stand up, challenge the powers that be, break the yoke of bondage and slavery and fight for their freedom.
Permit me to end this contribution with the reaction of Afenifere, the leading Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, to the insults of the 19 northern governors.
On 1st May 2016 the Sunday Vanguard Newspaper reported as follows:
“The Yoruba group, which spoke through their National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, told Sunday Vanguard:
"It (the northern governors' position) is a sign of unfeeling, uncaring for any group today to come out and say that those who have been causing problems and killing people in the Middle Belt and the South are not Fulani herdsmen. They have killed in Agatu land, Enugu; a traditional ruler was killed in Delta State; they killed Chief Olu Falae's guard and also kidnapped Chief Falae himself. For some people to gather and call themselves northern governors, and have no sympathy for lives than to be defending the Fulani herdsmen, shows clearly that it is a tragedy of monumental proportion to be in the same country with these elements. You also begin to wonder if the blood of human beings runs in their veins because anybody that has human blood running in his veins will not come and say that Fulani herdsmen are not responsible. What nonsense."
The Afenifere spokesperson went on: "I think the northern governors should bury their heads in shame. I do not think they are fit to be in the comity of civilized human beings. If the attackers are not Fulani herdsmen, where have they struck in the North-West? Why are their activities only in the Middle Belt and in the South? That is the question these northern governors should answer. When militants were blowing up pipelines in the South-South, were they not called Niger Delta militants? Do they want us to call them Yoruba herdsmen?"
As always Afenifere has done the yoruba, and by extension the entire south, proud with their courageous and timely intervention. They have spoken for every single one of us that still has his dignity and self-respect intact.
Let us hope that the northern governors and the murderers that they seek to defend get the message.
Let us hope that they can purge themselves of the unwholesome and denigrating contempt that they clearly have for the people of the south before it is too late and before the whole damn nation explodes and breaks into a thousand pieces.