Young Southerners & Middle Belters Are Now Talking About Self-determination, No Longer Interested in Restructuring – Reveals Femi Fani-Kayode
Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, a one-time minister in Nigeria’s central government, was delivering a keynote address at a colloquium organized by the Haske Satumari Foundation in Adamawa state, Northeast geopolitical zone. The theme of the colloquium relates to the essence of peace, faith, unity and progress in Nigeria’s nation-building and development. A talk shop based on these universally understood topical issues is not only appropriate in nation-building, but it is also more so at this moment when Nigeria seems to be imploding.
As the keynote speaker, Chief Fani-Kayode opted for an entirely novel approach to discussing the essence of his speech. He acknowledges the virtues of peace, unity, faith and progress as desirable goals for all human societies worldwide. In fact, these virtues are emblazoned in Nigeria’s Coat of Arms. From Fani-Kayode’s perspectives, however, it is okay to ask, “What peace; what unity; what faith and what progress?” These virtues are what today’s Unitary Nigeria lack, even though they are given positions of preeminence in the national ethos.
Embrace of the Truth as a Shield and Armor of Protection Against Evil
Fani-Kayode’s public embrace of the mantra of truth-telling is like a prayer and avowal of faith in the power of conviction that knowing and speaking the Truth can confer in trying times like these. It takes grit and guts to be able to publicly criticize a ruling cabal with an agenda and the will to implement it to the letter. The word “slaughter” featured nearly a dozen times in the keynote address. Slaughter of fellow Nigerians is a routine pastime of the Nigerian security forces or the extrajudicial terrorist groups like the Boko Haram, ISWAP, Fulani herdsmen militia, bandits, kidnappers and armed robbers that abound in many parts of the country. If these scourges are prevalent in today’s Nigeria and no one, including the presidency, has any interest in stopping or discouraging them, what’s all the hoopla about the virtues of peace, unity, faith and progress? In other words, how does one expect a Nigeria whose national ethos is being recklessly negated daily by a segment of its populace ever hope to survive, talkless thrive?
The Pogroms on Easterners & Genocide of the Civil War
Fani-Kayode reminded his distinguished audience that an estimated three millions of Eastern Nigerians, particularly the starving children, were sent to their graves prematurely by those who, till date, believe that the Nigerian geopoli8tical space and all its inhabitants are the dominion and serfs given by Allah to Sheikh Uthman Dan Fodio to reward him and his progeny for the successful execution of the 1904-08 jihad that created the Sokoto Islamic Caliphate. Eastern Nigeria has been regarded and treated as war booty for the past 60 years. Nations that survived civil wars endeavored to learn from those experiences, except in Nigeria. Deliberate efforts are usually made to reconcile the former enemies. But nothing like that has ever happened in Nigeria since the Civil War ended in January 1970.
The keynote speaker reminded his audience that, in the past four years, thousands of young men and women had been slaughtered in the Southeast geopolitical zone by the security forces because they dared to agitate for their God-given right to self-determination. The Nigerian Army’s Operation, “Python Dance II” of September 2017, became a military sweep through states of the Southeast during which potential supporters of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) were ferreted out, tortured and killed, especially in Aiba state. It is funny that the nonviolent IPOB was proscribed in 2017 by the Buhari administration as a terrorist organization while the Fulani herdsmen militia, which is globally ranked as the world’s 4th deadliest terrorist group, are given a free hand to operate as it wishes nationwide.
The Middle Belt, Yorubaland and the Niger Delta
The age-old disposition of the ethnic Fulani toward the Middle Belt in the past two hundred years has been the debasement of the humanity of the indigenous ethnic nationalities of the Middle Belt. This attitudinal disdain for the indigenous peoples has emboldened the nomadic Fulani to implement ethnic cleansing of the Middle Belt and systematic resettlement of nomadic cattle herders to take over the farmlands of the Middle Belt at will. Mr. Fani-Kayode recounted the incident of Christmas eve of 2016 in Southern Kaduna when the AK47-toting Fulani herdsmen militia slaughtered as much as eight hundred innocent people. Until today, no single arrest has been made regarding these heinous murders even though everyone knows who the culprits are.
He noted that the forests and uninhabited parts of Yorubaland of the Southwest have been infiltrated and are today occupied by armed Fulani herdsmen terrorist militia who kidnap, rape, kill and pillage at will. Mounting casualties and losses have compelled the governors of the Southwest geopolitical zone to come together, across party lines, to establish the western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN) called locally as the Amotekun. The task of this paramilitary outfit is to secure the lives and properties of all inhabitants of the Southwest geopolitical zone from persistent assaults from the terrorist marauders. In Fani-Kayode’s mind, this is an act of self-protection for survival and nothing is ever going to reverse that decision to establish the Amotekun.
The Southsouth geopolitical zone has fared no better under the murderous rule of the Fulani ruling cabal in-charge of the Buhari administration. The Niger Delta of the Southsouth geopolitical zone contains the oilfields of Nigeria from which the nation’s sustenance is derived. But inhabitants of the Niger Delta are easily among the poorest in the country. The waterways, marshlands and woodlands that constitute the Niger River ecosystems have been polluted by daily oil spills from ell heads that are recklessly managed. Against the directives of the World Health Organization (WHO) and in contravention of international best practices, gas flaring has been increasing in the Niger Delta oilfields rather than decrease. Poison in the air, water and farmlands has become the lot of the impoverished indigenous dwellers of the Southsouth. Whoever mustered the gumption to protest this injustice are smoked out and summarily dealt with.
The Boko Haram
The world’s third deadliest terrorist group, Boko Haram, has been responsible for the killing of thousands of innocent citizens of the Northeast in what Fani-Kayode described as cowardly acts. The systematic butchery of unarmed, defenseless civilians, including children and women, is a cowardly act. Unfortunately, the pledge by the Buhari government to eliminate Boko Haram if elected has become a farce. Despite all the bogus claims, it is believed that the Boko Haram has indeed become more emboldened and deadlier since the Buhari presidency. The terrorist outfit has since sprung an offshoot called the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) which is also based in the Lake Chad region of Northeast Nigeria.
Fulanization & Islamization Agenda of the Buhari Regime
Fulani rascality and penchant for dominance have been part and parcel of Nigeria’s political economy since the Amalgamation of 1914. But it is not until the arrival of Buhari at the Aso Rock Villa that a full takeover of all aspect of the country’s affairs become a reality. Except for the Navy, all the 19 security command positions in today’s Unitary Nigeria are occupied by Northern Muslims. The so-called “federal character” policy that attempted to assure equity and balance in the distribution of sensitive positions in national governance was simply ignored by President Buhari as soon as he got into power in 2015.
The Buhari administration has labored tirelessly to exploit the presidency to expand and deeply entrench the Fulani presence in Nigeria’s geopolitical space. A mixture of legislative maneuvers and executive orders are being deployed by the Buhari presidency to create the so-called razing reserves, Cattle Routes, Cow Colonies and Ruga Settlements in 36 states of Nigeria for the exclusive benefit and advantage of the Fulani. Recently, the Buhari regime waived visa requirements for all African entering Nigeria – a ploy aimed at granting unrestricted influx of nomadic Fulani cattle herders roaming the desiccating West African Sahel.
Perhaps the most poignant aspect of the occasion’s keynote address was the admonition that the escalating calls for Self-determination, particularly among the stakeholders of the South and Middle Belt, cannot be wished away. In the preceding era, the predominant demand was encapsulated under the caption of “Restructuring”. Such demands contributed partly to the convocation of the 2014 National Conference by the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. The Summary of Resolutions of the 2014 National Conference, which was handed over to President Buhari by his predecessor, was promptly rejected and trashed for good. The aim was to demonstrate, in no uncertain way, that the Fulani aristocracy shall tolerate no Restructuring in the status quo of Unitary Nigeria for the foreseeable future.
Chief Fani-Kayode bombed his enthused audience with another evident Truth. He explained that, in the South, younger generations are no longer interested in any form of Restructuring. They are now gung-ho for the restoration of their God-given rights to determine their own fate by themselves in their own ancestral lands without any imposition, whatsoever, by outside interests. Self-determination can be manifested through outright independence or regional federalism with semi-autonomous constituent parts. The keynote speech also succeeded in conveying the new reality facing a post-Buhari presidency.
Femi Fani-Kayode exuded empathy for the Middle Belters, who constituted the majority of his audience and assured them that the resolve is firm in the South to call the Fulani bluff by securing their ancestral lands and checkmating those with the intention to ethnically cleanse the indigenous peoples and take over the land for resettling their nomadic kith and kin. He avowed that the emergent alliance between the South and the Middle Belt is real. “Help is on the way”, a promise from the speaker was genuinely welcomed by the audience, which was in tacit agreement with all that the eloquent politician had to say.
When placed side-by-side with his fellow political operatives of Unitary Nigeria, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode stands out for his unique understanding of the metamorphosis through which Africa’s most populous country is going at this very juncture. Many of his contemporaries are still engrossed in the rentier political mindset of today’s Unitary Nigeria. Some understand that something unusual is going on, but unsure of what to make of it. So, the culture of silence, muteness and reticence has become the new etiquette for the average politician in Nigeria. Fani-Kayode knows differently; he knows better. He sees the future so clearly and he has shown determination to play a leading role in midwifing that FUTURE.
What he does must be seen as risky, especially in a country where extrajudicial killings are rife and there are too many deadly weapons the hands of those whose values are steeped in the culture of man’s inhumanity to fellow man. So, for his protection, he clutches firmly to his Christian faith and the firm belief that the Truth shall be his shield and coat of armor.
May God continue to safeguard and protect the Fani-Kayodes of Nigeria.