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Facts vs Feelings: The Altercations surrounding the Fulani People of Northern Nigeria

Facts vs Feelings: The Altercations surrounding the Fulani People of Northern Nigeria

The Fulani are a predominantly Muslim tribe found mainly in West African countries such as Nigeria, Mali, Guinea, Senegal and Niger. The Fulani can also be found in Central African countries such as Cameroon, C.A.R. 

For over a decade now, the Fulani have been generally painted and regarded on the social media as a vile, wicked and hostile tribe. Any atrocity committed by a few of them, that is the killer herdsmen, who carry their cattle to people’s farms, destroy their crops, and kill the farmers who resist them, is blamed on the whole Fulani tribe, in which only a few of them are Pastoralists. 

Ever since Muhammadu Buhari became the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, there has been an unceasing daily discussion by Nigerians, from the Southern and some from the Middle Belt part of the country about the Fulani people, with the tribe being defamed, and some individuals have begun to see this much focus on the tribe as being politically instigated.

What people do not give apparent reality to is that there is no tribe without good, bad and evil. No one loves his tribe to be denigrated or stereotyped. Should the people of Edo state be condemned because a few of them engage in cybercrime and prostitution? Should the Yoruba people be regarded as evil because a few of them engage in rituals? Should the Igbo people be despised because a small community engage in cannibalism? That there are herdsmen who commit atrocities and a President who doesn’t seem to care about what they do and deal with them, doesn’t mean that the Fulani people should be regarded as vile.

Another propaganda flying in the air is that all the Northern Muslims who hold key positions in the government are Fulani. The President is indeed unfair in giving of appointments, but that most of the positions have been given to Northern Muslims doesn’t mean that those occupying the positions are Fulanis. Some of these men and women come from other tribes like Hausa, Kanuri, Nupe, Babur, Shuwa Arab etc., but are regarded as Fulani. People from the South who hold unto these ideas need to know that the North is by far more diverse than the South, and that not everyone who comes from Borno and bears Abdullahi or Muhammad as a name that is Fulani by origin. There is no Fulani domination of Nigeria’s political landscape as is being purported by some people on the social media.

Even groups seeking secession in the country have since added the denigration of the Fulani Tribe to their agenda. They propagate false information that the Fulani Tribe are the owners of Nigeria, and are behind all evils in the nation, and that anyone who doesn’t key into their agitation is a Fulani slave. 

When houses were being demolished in Lagos State, the issue was tribalised by some Igbos who were not even in the State, making it seem like the Igbos were the only targets of the destruction. Simon Ekpa, a Biafran Agitator went on to propagate that the demolition was part of a Fulani Apartheid regime economic jihad against the Igbos, with the order coming from the Presidency.

As Farooq Kperogi, a Professor of Journalism at the Kennesaw State University, U.S., postulated in his article titled “Fulanization of the North by the South”, The Fulani are now lionized in the South as the lifeblood of the North and the sole designers of all that is ill with Nigeria.

On the issue of the killer Fulani herdsmen, different Nigerians have thrown their sentiments which have been propelled by political stands, regionalism and tribalism. The pernicious acts perpetrated by some Herdsmen should not be seen as political, but totally condemned. These horrible acts committed by the herdsmen is not a fabrication by the media, neither did it become a form of propaganda against the president because he was a Fulani.

What mostly occurred hitherto Buhari’s Administration were farmer-herder crisis. It did not only occur in Plateau, Benue, Adamawa and Kaduna State, but also in the FCT, Zamfara and Sokoto State, and some parts of the South. The advent of the crisis was never the transgression of the Farmer but the Herdsman who took his livestock to people’s farms to graze on their crops, provoking the farmers to retaliate and eventually leading to a crisis.

In November 2011, there was a farmer-herder clash in Sokoto State leaving many injured in the process. During this period, the herdsmen also sacked communities in Benue, Plateau, Nassarawa and Kaduna state.

In 2013, the FCT witnessed one of the deadliest of farmer-herder clashes in the country. It was an encounter between Gbagyi Farmers and the Fulani Herdsmen at Gwarko, a Gbagyi village in Gwagwalada area council of the FCT, leaving thousands of people displaced.

Indiscriminate killings by the Fulani Herdsmen over time has rapidly increased into full-scale terrorism, and now, they have been portrayed as a troublesome terror group. 

In March 2013, the Emir of Dansadau in Zamfara State tasked the Federal Government to stop the killings by the Fulani Herdsmen in his domain. Again in July 2014, 50 people were killed at the Gidandawa District of the Maradun Local Government Area Council in Zamfara state.

In 2013, the Delta and Imo State Governments raised alarms over the menace caused by the Fulani Herdsmen. The Delta State Government even threatened the rampaging Fulani Herdsmen with expulsion from the state if they failed to stop their horrible acts.

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Politicians from the Northern part of the country have spoken against the activities of the Fulani Herdsmen. On December 22, 2020, the presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu while featuring on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television programme, blamed the herdsmen for the destruction of farmlands. He said “They drive their cattle into farmlands and eat up the crops. The farmers fight back and the killings follow. The country cannot continue in this way.” 

Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari during an Interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today in September 2021, faulted the activities of the Herdsmen in the country, and claimed that most of them were Fulani.

Gov. Aminu Masari

Last week, I was watching a news report on Silverbird Television at the late hours of the day. The news report was on the increase in the price of commodities in the country. Some of the people who were engaged in the sale of agricultural commodities said the high rise in the price of goods was attributed to the insufficiency of farm produce, as farmers could no longer go to their farms due to the attacks by herdsmen.

The Ondo State Government accused the Buhari Administration of being emotionally attached to herdsmen. This was due to the Administration’s frivolous handling of the issue of herdsmen activities in the country. The Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka even said the President’s silence on the issue of herdsmen activities in the country showed that he wasn’t ready to stop it. 

The Government truly isn’t ready to stop the atrocities committed by the violent herdsmen and this is why the President backed open grazing and even asked the AGF to recover land for the herdsmen.

Pondering on the words of Garba Shehu, the country truly cannot continue this way.

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