THE PUBLIC SPHERE with Chido Nwakanma
The Fulani by their own attestation is the wisest of the ethnicities in Nigeria. They are so smart they assert imperiously that Nigeria is their inheritance, and her land space belongs to the Fulani to take when they desire. Fulani from all over West Africa and anywhere else are thus welcome to the geographical space called Nigeria.
The Fulani ethnic group, from available reports and assertions by their kin, is at war with Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Berom, Bachama, Tarok, Tiv, Jukun, Edo, Nupe, Ebira. They commit atrocities all over the land. They rape, steal, ransack territories, abduct, and kidnap. The abduction of school children for handsome ransoms is the latest trick in their bag. Travelling from Abuja to Kaduna was a breeze in the past. Now it is walking through the valley of the shadow of death, as are most roads in the country. If all these are true, as many think they are, what manner of humans are these with no respect for humanity?
It is part of their wisdom that in hundred years of dominating Northern Nigeria they did not negotiate to get a land space they could call Fulani land just as you have places for the Yoruba, the Tiv, Berom, or the Ijaw. There is no indigenous space called Fulani land. Rather than negotiate for or buy such spaces as other people do, they want to claim it by conquest. In the 21st century?
The Fulani are atavistic. In their wisdom, it is a matter of culture. While the world has moved on from walking cattle across the land to placing them in ranches, the Fulani insist that the old-fashioned way is the best. Well, climate change and urbanisation caught up with that lifestyle forcing modifications elsewhere. Not to the Fulani. Their response is to move their cattle to invade the farmlands and crops of fellow citizens. They kill where the owners protest such unwarranted damage. They have gone to bring their kin from across West Africa for the mission of despoilation and conquest of the lands of the various other ethnicities of Nigeria.
The Fulani would seem to have what William Shakespeare called vaulting ambition. “Macbeth: I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself and falls on the’ other”. The dictionary says vaulting ambition is “a strong wish to be extremely successful, powerful, rich, etc. and a belief that this is more important than anything else.” The Fulani are seemingly ready to sacrifice the country for their vaulting ambition.
Greed undergirds that ambition. The Fulani are so wise they did not hear the counsel in all the Holy Books to do unto others as you would want them to do to you. Wherever they gain power, they exclude others, as they did in the Central African Republic. In Nigeria, they have connived to place in their care all the military authority.
The Fulani need to hear the counsel of B.C. Forbes. “Any business arrangement that is not profitable to the other person will in the end prove unprofitable for you. The bargain that yields mutual satisfaction is the only one that is apt to be repeated.”
In the modern world, the Fulani can be as successful as they want. They have many bright stars, including the lady next in rank to the Secretary-General at the United Nations.
Somehow, when convenient, they delink from the Hausa-Fulani that we all knew. Maybe they should do that more often.
The Fulani should try to emulate the ethnic Hausa Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man. Dangote understands the importance of “the bargain that yields mutual satisfaction” as the one that would be repeated and sustainable. He manufactures and provides essential items to consumers in 16 countries and counting across Africa. Dangote strikes deals with governments everywhere. Dangote illustrates the conquest that is acceptable today, not the one obtained by brute force. Force begets the counter of force.
Yet the Fulani example shows in some of the business practices of the Dangote Group. Dangote Group recently canvassed that only firms with an active refinery license be allowed to import petroleum products. Their representative did not hide the motive: when Dangote Refinery is down, all others should not and cannot import to make up the shortfall! He also wants to shut off other players in cement and sugar businesses.
Note, however, that Dangote Group uses the law track in its quest for monopoly. He wants to persuade our National Assembly to grant him a monopoly in law, and not by force of arms. It is up to our representatives whether they consider the national interest or the Dangote interest.
The Fulani want to pull down the house if the rest of Nigeria will not consent to their kin’s banditry and violence. On the bandits, the Fulani have engaged deliberate incoherence and obfuscation. The “bandits are not criminals”, they say, although banditry is a crime. They declare that the bandits are non-Nigerian Fulani. When the rest of the country tries to push away these criminal foreigners, the homegrown Fulani rises to their defence. Are the criminal herdsmen one of yours or not? What are you doing to curb the criminality of those who give Fulani a bad name? When will the Fulani elite speak up against banditry and show that these people do not represent them?
Then the Fulani tried unsuccessfully to launch a starvation war against fellow citizens in the South. Cruel, inciteful, and brazen. The South would not budge.
The Fulani Grand Vision is to own Nigeria- land, people, and faith. Their elite and commoners believe it. The vison is bold but suffers myopia and astigmatism. They should think in win-win terms of collaboration. They cannot go it alone no matter how much force they appropriate.
Moreover, the other ethnicities of Nigeria must show tough love. Sustain over 100 years of love to the Fulani. However, resist their imperialistic drive, firmly but fairly. Refuse to be dragged down to banditry and such animalism. Governors must grow a spine, legislate against open grazing everywhere and enforce the legislation. There are no “unoccupied public spaces” as of Bola Tinubu for anyone to allocate for ranching in the South.
The rest of Nigeria’s ethnicities must also deploy the law, advocacy, and civic resistance to this Fulani drive.
Citizens must engage better with the civic process. We should realise that farming out the responsibility to elected leaders will not work here. The sad news is that majority of them lack the moral fibre to withstand blackmail and intimidation when it comes to shove unless citizens provide the bulwark.
Other Nigerian ethnicities must help the Fulani see reason. With all their power and wealth, Fulani can make a statement of development with the Sambisa Forest and turn it into Fulani Wonderland. We shall applaud.
What a boring canvass a Fulani-Moslem-only Nigeria would be compared to the vibrant multiple colours now on display.