By Christie Doyin
On the last count Nigeria, so to say has no leader, or government so to say. You are won’t to say why a person would feel this way about his country, but in all honesty, Nigeria is without leadership considering all that has been happening in this country. Like the Yoruba would say, “Ni ilu to l’oba, ti o ni ijoye” in a country that has a ruler, governors, ministers, commissioners and other aides!
Definitely, nkan mbe!
In the last couple of years, gory occurrences, that include arsons, massacres, plundering and other vicious attacks have been occurring and recurring unhindered in a country supposedly with a leader. I’m sure many will surely agree with me that “nkan mbe and nkan si nbe mbe”. There is something and there is something therein. I concluded a long time ago that Nigeria is a country that was and except there is a divine intervention, Nigeria may soon well be forgotten.
My country, Nigeria, has for some years now become rudderless because it is leaderless, until Sunday Igboho had it to his neck and decided to take the bull by its horn and defend his own people, the defenseless Yoruba nation, which have long been having stereotypes as leaders. I can’t imagine anyone calling him self leader of a race and all you do is being in mute mode while your people are being decimated and subjected to not only deprivation but are being massacred and their farmlands plundered.
In a discussion a few days back, some of those present asked why I said Nigeria and many of our states have no leader but while recounting the roles and duties of a leader, which our leaders lacked, it was concluded that indeed we have no leader and this again brought us back to Sunday Igboho.
You can imagine how I feel just reading the first paragraph of Reuben Abati in his piece titled SUNDAY IGBOHO AND THE YORUBA NATION in which he noted, “The Igboho phenomenon deserves some close attention. Sunday Igboho showed up in the fight against criminal herdsmen in Oyo State because of the shocking absence of leadership. The state Governor failed to defend the people’s interest. He did not stand up to the truth…”
We ‘have’ a president and Boko Haram insurgents are having field day, they became a government on their own, let us just conclude that they are a parallel government. The armed bandits, the rustlers, militants, arsonists and more are kidnapping, raping, burning houses and farmlands and our government waited until the matter got out of hand all because our supposed leaders, the government at all levels failed in their duties to the people.
In foreclosing this, rather than to sound like a broken record, I beg to take on Abati’s choice of words and statements which, I to a very large extent, buys into. He wrote, in Oyo state, “He (Seyi Makinde, Oyo state Governor), provided a vacuum, which a Sunday Igboho decided to fill. The failure of leadership from the right quarters has its consequences and this is what we are seeing in Oyo State.
“In the past week(s), in the South Western part of Nigeria, we have been treated to stories of conflicts in Ondo and Oyo States between herdsmen, identified as Fulani, and the Yoruba owners of indigenous communities. In Ondo state, the issue at stake is the conversion of the state’s forest reserves into a criminal space by herdsmen who violate the integrity of the reserves and a hideout for kidnaping, extortion and killings.
“Governor Rotimi Akeredolu affirming his powers as the Chief Security Officer of the state gave a seven-day ultimatum to the herdsmen in the forest reserves to vacate the place immediately. He also directed that the open grazing of cattle on main roads and within the city has been outlawed. The Governor further asked for a proper registration of all herdsmen within the state. Governor Akeredolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria has been praised for his courage and assertiveness by Yoruba socio-cultural groups and leaders of thought.
“The Governor insisted however, that his directive is based on security considerations. His ultimatum expired the same day that a meeting of South West Governors, their counterparts from Kebbi and Jigawa, and the leadership of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) was summoned by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, to chart a path for peace and reconciliation.
“In neighbouring Oyo State, faced with a similar situation in areas identified as Ibarapa East, Ibarapa North, Igangan and the whole of the Oke Ogun area. Whereas in Ondo State, the Governor led the protest against the menace of the so-called Fulani herdsmen, in Oyo State … Governor, Makinde sounded more accommodating.
Abati noted that “Despite reports of wanton killings and destruction by herdsmen in parts of the state, the loss of valuable lives and properties, the Oyo State Governor chose to toe a safe, acquiescent path. He ignored the yearnings of those who asked the government – state and Federal- to stop the killings and come to the people’s rescue. He in fact was on record as having asked the authorities to arrest and sanction anyone who raised any objections to the situation in the troubled parts of the state. …the people of Oyo State found solace in a certain Chief Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho. Igboho’s admirers regard him as an ethnic patriot, a defender of the Yoruba nation, a man of justice, an activist and a freedom fighter, who has chosen to stand up for the rights of the oppressed.
“Akeredolu was challenged by the Federal Government, indeed the Presidency in a statement through Garba Shehu, Presidential spokesman, who tried to teach the Ondo Governor some elementary Constitutional Law. This was widely interpreted as an attempt by the Buhari Presidency to defend Fulani interests.”
What I felt so much at a loss and undecided about is if the President is the leader of the country or of a selected few. Imagine the President (and the presidency) that should be the father of all, rather than ensuring that everyone, tribes, ethnic and states are provided adequate security and protection, is giving protection and support to the suspected criminals at the detriment of other tribes and people. What hit me most is that Sunday Igboho was ordered to be shot at sight. Haaa n’ilu to l’oba, t’aforisole siii”. Our own indigenous country!
Abati further wrote “The Seriki is said to have fled all the way to Ogun State, where we are told a group of herdsmen backed by the military recently lined up recalcitrant traditional rulers and gave them the beating of their lives, for having the audacity to say they do not want Fulani herdsmen in their community.”
This is what I described as ‘eemo wolu o’! But then Sunday Igboho, has become a product of myth, history and the failure of the Nigerian state.
“He won’t be the first of his type. When the state fails the people, people like Igboho emerge to provide leadership.
“He is again a symbol of the mistrust at the heart of the Nigerian arrangement: like Isaac Adaka Boro in the Niger Delta in the 1960s, Odumegwu Ojukwu defending the interest of the Igbos in 1967 and beyond, Ken Saro-Wiwa leading Ogoni nationalism and the cause of environmental justice in the 90s, Dr. Frederick Fashehun and Ganiyu Adams of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Nnamdi Kanu of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), and all the aggrieved persons from Southern Kaduna the Middle Belt, Adamawa and elsewhere who believe that they have been served badly by Nigeria, for both ethnic and religious reasons.”
Our leaders without doubt have failed us and we may be needing more Sunday Igbohos in our land. Protesters and dissenting voices are dealt with and incapacitated but the Boko Haram, armed Fulani terrorists and others could not be subdued, doesn’t that raise a question? Where are the Sunday Igbohos of Lagos, of Kwara, of Igbomina land, Ogun, Osun, Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Borno and of all states and ethnics who will defend and protect us against mayhem, arsonists, killers, bandits and kidnappers/abductors?
*Doyin writes from Ilorin via e-mail:email@example.com
By Christie Doyin