Buhari should call Fulani herdsmen to order – Gani Adams

Ketekete
By Ketekete October 17, 2015 12:03

Buhari should call Fulani herdsmen to order – Gani Adams

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The ultimatum issued by Yoruba leaders at a meeting held in Ibadan following the kidnap of Chief Olu Falae, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, has been described as the magic wand that facilitated quick apprehension of the masterminds of the crime.

Although some people have described the meeting as diversionary and uncalled for, National Coordinator of Oodua Peoples Con­gress (OPC), Otunba Gani Adams has insisted that if Yorubas had not issued the ultimatum, the Federal Government and security agents would not have been gingered into taking action which led to the arrest of some of the suspects.Adams also believed that if a similar kidnap had taken place in the North, the whole coun­try would have been set on fire. He spoke with TUNDE THOMAS. Ecerpts:

Prior to the kidnap of Chief Olu Falae by some Fulani herdsmen on his farm on the outskirts of Akure in Ondo State, there have been other re­ported cases across the country, why are the Yoruba leaders now crying out or even issue ultimatum when Falae was the victim?

Let me start by saying that the attack on Fa­lae was very unfortunate. It should not have occurred in the first place. It showed that there is now a complete breakdown of social val­ues and ethos. Apart from Falae’s pedigree as an eminent statesman, he was also a for­mer presidential candidate, a former Minister of Finance, and also a former Secretary to the Federal Government – even if you don’t consider all these, what about the man’s age? Kidnapping a 77-year-old man and subjecting him to such humiliatory treatment is the high­est level of disrespect to a senior citizen.

Yoruba leaders were forced to speak out and to even issue ultimatum not only because somebody like Falae was a victim, we were forced to speak out because a human life was involved, and not only that an eminent Yoruba citizen had become a victim. We felt that if we didn’t speak out, the Fulanis would believe that they can take us for a ride.

The kidnap of Falae was a serious one, who can try that in Kano or Sokoto to kidnap an Emir or eminent Northern Leader like Alha­ji Maitama Sule of Kano, by now the whole country would have been on fire.

Even look at the initial lackadaisical attitude of the President, Muhammadu Buhari, it took the threat from Yoruba leaders before govern­ment was forced to react.

President Buhari should know that by the virtue of the position he is holding as the nation’s president, he is father to all. Buhari swore to an oath to defend the territorial in­tegrity of the entire country and the citizens regardless of their ethnic background. I expect the president or somebody on behalf of the Federal Government to have spoken out im­mediately the crime took place, not until days later after Yoruba leaders have started speak­ing against the kidnap.

But some people said that meet­ing by Yoruba Foundation held at Ibadan with many Yoruba leaders in attendance was not necessary, that the situation had not degenerated to warrant such a meeting …

(cuts in) … The meeting was not organised by Oodua Foundation, but was organised by a coalition of different Yoruba groups and asso­ciations. As for those who believe that Yoruba leaders have overreacted, they are entitled to their own opinions.

But for us, those of us present at the meet­ing including the elders, what is paramount to us is the interest of Yoruba race. Are those people saying we should wait until something tragic happened that we should have spoken out? I say no. Yorubas are very accommodat­ing and receptive but when you now go as far as kidnapping a Yoruba traditional ruler, and demanding a ransom for his release in Yoru­baland, it is the highest level of insult and we will never take it.

As I said earlier if something like that had happened in Kano, Sokoto or Kaduna, we will know what these people would have done to non-northerners – so what they can’t take, they should not try it with others especially Yorubas. If other ethnic groups are ready for Fulani herdsmen to conquer them on their own land not in Yoruba land. If they are ready to allow strangers to become their overlords in their own land, that is their own problem. Nobody should try nonsense in Yorubaland. We like peace and we are peaceful but no in­dividual or group should try to override us in our own land, it will backfire.

Although Buhari is Nigeria’s President, he is first and foremost a Fulani man. We had ex­pected him to have spoken out on the issue but curiously he hasn’t.

This was unlike year 2000 when President Olusegun Obasanjo was in office as Nigeria’s leader. There was a crisis at Mile 12 involving some residents and some Hausa people.

On that day, I remember vividly that Obasanjo was giving a live speech at an oc­casion which was being beamed live, one of the securitymen just went to whisper to Obasanjo’s ear that OPC people were caus­ing trouble in Lagos, what did Obasanjo do? He ordered there on the spot that soldiers and anti-riot policemen should shoot on sight any OPC member they see around the place. Over 250 OPC members were killed by the securi­tymen – was Obasanjo not a Yoruba, yet he took action against us when he had not even ordered an investigation into the crisis.

I’m not saying Buhari should do a similar thing, but let him speak out on the menace of these Fulani herdsmen. His comment may be able to help in finding a solution.

For people like Barrister Femi Falana and chairman, National Human Rights Commis­sion, Professor Odinkalu, who have been con­demning Yoruba leaders, they are doing so ei­ther out of ignorance or out of desire to please Buhari – they don’t want to step on powerful toes. Odinkalu may be keen on keeping his job while Falana may be seeking a ministerial appointment.

Your people can’t continue to be oppressed and you keep quiet in the face of provocation. We were ready for war over Falae’s issue. We in OPC were already mobilizing but thank God there was divine intervention. Even the United Nations Charter recognises the right to self-determination. If you are no longer happy with the way you are in a union, you have right to opt for self-determination – this doesn’t mean a call for secession, but rather a call for loose federation, where there will be a true practice of federalism.

Federalism as it is being practised in Nige­ria is seriously flawed. Under a true federal­ism, state police is recognised, if we have state police, some of these problems wouldn’t have occurred.

On Falana, and Odinkalu, what they were saying …
 (cuts in) I read Falana’s statement in the me­dia and I will say I’m highly disappointed that he could be defending the indefensible. Falana should be very careful about how he attacks Yoruba elders and organisations, we won’t take it lightly with him. Falana is a person I respect. We were together during the strug­gle for the enthronement of democracy. But I don’t understand him again. He has become a changed person – he should not because he wants to get a ministerial appointment become so desperate to be attacking his own people. This will backfire on him, and if he is not careful, and continues, he may go into political oblivion. It had happened to some Yoruba leaders who compromised the interest of the race in the past. Falana should be a good student of history.

How can Falana show disrespect for a meeting of Yoruba leaders that have such people like General Adeyinka Adebayo, Baba Ayo Adebanjo, Pa Olanihun Ajayi and others in attendance?

And it is unfortunate that Falana and some of his co-travellers have come to view any association or meeting not convened by the present government as a pro-Jonathan gather­ing. I even want to advise that we should not allow politics to becloud our sense of good reasoning? Are Falana and others in his shoes saying that there was nothing good in the Jonathan administration. We shouldn’t throw away baby with the bath water. I want to state here boldly and categorically that one of the best legacies of the Jonathan administration was the National Conference his government organised in which representatives from the six geo-political groups in the country took part.

Why Buhari’s government is not talking about the implementation of the confab’s report, these are questions people should be asking Buhari and APC apologists. But I still want to emphasise this, no matter how you love Nigeria, your race comes first. You must have a base. It is not a crime to love Nigeria but your race comes first.

The late Papa Obafemi Awolowo said when he was alive that he was first an Ikenne man, then a Yoruba man before being a Nigerian. So, I don’t know what is happening to Falana — for him to be attacking Yoruba interest is very unfortunate.

Is Falana saying that we should keep quiet until they kidnap General Adeyinka Adebayo, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Olanihun Ajayi or Pa Reuben Fasoranti before we talk? No. It is impossible.

So, you still believe that Yoruba leaders were right to have held that meeting at Ibadan?

I give kudos to our elders and leaders for organising that meeting. One thing I know for sure is that if he had not held the meeting at Ibadan where we issued an ultimatum to the Federal Government on apprehending Falae’s kidnappers, nothing would have been done to get the masterminds arrested – the Ibadan meeting worked like a magic. It served as a wake-up call on the Federal Government that it is being confronted by an explosive situa­tion. We issued the ultimatum on Thursday, and on Sunday those who kidnapped Falae were apprehended. If you don’t know how to fight for your rights in Nigeria, some people will oppress you.

The Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, also cautioned Yoruba leaders …

(cuts in) Caution us for what? They should have rather cautioned their own people, the herdsmen who have been on rampage across the country. Have you ever seen the ACF talking or speaking out against the evil by these herdsmen? No. Their silence means they condone their action which is very un­fortunate. The problem in this country is that those who know the truth and are supposed to say it are not doing so. ACF should put its own house in order before advising Yoruba leaders. Let them talk to their own people, the herds­men, and there will be peace. What they can’t take, they shouldn’t do to others.

How do we avert this kind of cri­sis?

It is very simple. Nigeria should practice true and genuine federalism. Our practice of federalism today is nothing but a caricature, a mockery of true federalism. Let’s take the bull by the horns, and return to original practice of federalism.

Gani-adams

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Ketekete
By Ketekete October 17, 2015 12:03

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