By Bemgba Iortyom.
I recently watched a documentary on the Iranian Satellite Television channel, Press TV titled “The Fulani: The Endangered People of West-Africa” in which the Fulani were depicted as a helpless nomadic people suffering at the hands of hostile West-African tribes, and
being pushed to the verge of extinction. And I was marveled at the sublime manipulation contained in the documentary which obviously targeted to hoodwink international attention.
But I was quickly reminded that the first weapon available to the criminal or miscreant is concealment of their deed from public attention and scrutiny, and such a weapon only loses potency in the face of exposure from concealment. This can be understood to be the reason why criminals and miscreants prefer the cover of darkness and secrecy for their actions.
The world over, human conflicts are better managed and resolved when the attention of the human community is beamed on it, in which case the weak in such situations is better guaranteed protection against the strong who, if not restrained, would easily maximize the advantages of their strength to the total peril of the weak.
In the ongoing crisis between invading Fulani herdsmen and the farming populations of North-Central Nigeria, the Fulani who are the aggressors are evidently the stronger party in the conflict, their strength consisting in an army of heavily armed militia, many of whom, it is alleged, have been observed to be international terrorist elements, and backed by enormous financial resources. And the Fulani have so far successfully used their superiority in the conflict to devastating effect.
Thousands of peasant farmers, including women, children and the aged, have been massacred in the most brutal and barbaric of fashions, with whole communities sacked, and the Fulani and their cattle now occupying those communities.Thousands are now displaced from their homes and means of livelihood and are living as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), some in makeshift camps, others with relations, and many others wherever they can find shelter.
The attendant trauma and hardship on the affected people can hardly be quantified, in terms of the material and psychological implications. Yet, all of these is happening under a cloak, a veil of darkness and concealment to the attention of the larger human community.
In character and magnitude, the Fulani invasion of North-Central Nigeria is not much different from the crisis which engulfed the Darfur Region of Sudan about a decade ago, and also, closer home, the Boko Haram insurgency which has been happening at the same time as this crisis.
Yet, while the crisis in the Darfur Region and Boko Haram did attract global attention and intervention, the Fulani insurgency has remained largely obscure and totally unknown to the global human community, and whatever little attention there is, which has come by way of such documentary as I mentioned earlier, could only portray a wrong picture of the situation.
Given the reality that global attention and intervention in crisis of this nature does prove very helpful in resolving the crisis and in attracting aid and grants towards the resettlement of displaced people, I like to call on the governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom, to take the lead among governors of states of North-Central Nigeria to push this crisis to the attention of the global community.
I make this call on the governor, being mindful of the political obstacles and pressures which will very likely confront him on such a venture. These understandably could stem from the fact of the need for him to be careful in navigating the deep waters of national politics with a sitting president who is himself a Fulani and a professed owner of cattle. Furthermore, it is plausible to reason that the Fulani leadership and elite, who certainly do constitute a powerful lobby at the federal level now, have a motive to keep this crisis as much as possible away from international glare for the obvious reasons of Fulani guilt and crimes in the conflict.
But the contending need for this crisis to be pushed out of concealment makes it imperative that Gov. Ortom will have to take action by becoming more vocal, including in public, about this issue whenever he has opportunity, since his voice as governor has wide and deep reach which could attract the needed level and quality of attention. To do otherwise would be to keep the situation skewed in the favour of the Fulani who are systematically executing an obviously well-thought out plan to muscle their way into the land-holdings of the people of this region under cover of an information blanket over the crisis.
It is claimed by some that the governor has been holding secret discussions with President Buhari towards seeking ways of resolving the crisis, but a crisis of this magnitude cannot successfully be resolved and the displaced people resettled merely through secret meetings. The Boko Haram insurgency has enjoyed sufficient local and global attention and intervention, the latest of which came from the meeting held a few days back between the Nigerian president and the governors, following which some special attention was directed to be given to states affected by the insurgency.
It is time the world got to know what the Fulani have done and are still doing to the helpless people of this region.