By Rev Sam Gar
When Chief Terkura Suswam brokered pseudo peace with the Fulanis, the Fulanis acknowledged for the first time that they were behind the attacks on Benue State. It was the resident Fulani that accepted involvement! Unlike what the Federal Government and recently, Governor Ortom want us to believe. The reason the Fulanis gave for his murderous invasion was that THE TIV HAD MALTREATED THEM. I immediately wrote to the principal officers of the State House of Assembly requesting that they do some follow up on the entire issue. I posed a few questions in my memorandum: Was it one TIV man, or Tiv family, or a group of Tiv people that offended the Fulanis or was it the entire TIV people? If it wasn’t the entire TIV nation, why did they attack the entire Tivland? Secondly, if it is only the Tiv that mistreated them, why did they attack Agatu and Idomaland? Or did Benue State as a whole offend them? Thirdly, why did the Fulanis take the law into their hands to execute judgement? Is it because Benue’s legal system failed them? Or did the Tiv Traditional Council fail them? And why did they cause so much damage and destruction to lives and properties of innocent people just because a few people maltreated them? Somehow they did not reveal the nature of the mistreatment meted out to them for which they hired mercenaries for a most brutal revenge mission. A mission that has continued for the past seven years now. What then is the solution? Will their fratricidal mission continue until they overrun Benue State? If not, at what point will they stop, seeing that they have already devastated Benue State?
The Federal Government says the reason for the menace of Fulani herdsmen is their search for grass for their animals. This cannot possibly be true. It’s estimated that Nigeria has about 24 millions cattle. We have sufficient natural resources to feed five times that number. The Middle Belt alone can provide the grass, vegetation, and agricultural byproducts in interstate trade to meet this need. The Southern States are also well positioned to provide this service. The economic benefits are multifarious in terms job creation, downstream industries and general economic advancement. If grass is the real issue, the solution is obvious and evident. The Federal Government has equally put in place an expansive and expensive and most elaborate water infrastructure in Nigeria in the Northern states that is capable of meeting this need. In addition, the Federal Government has in place a program for the production of grass products in Northern Nigeria. From the above, it is clear that grass is not the issue.
The Federal Government has acknowledged that most of the herdsmen causing havoc in Nigeria are foreigners. What a shame! It’s unfortunate that Nigeria cannot secure her Northern borders. They are the most porous in the country. This is why herdsmen from Chad, Nicer, Mali, Cameroon, Senegal have free access to Nigerian soil without restraint. In fact, this is a deliberate policy of a predominantly Fulani government to protect their kith and kin abroad and advance their economic interests. It’s part of a grand strategy to infiltrate every section of Nigeria towards fulfilling their Islamic agenda. Remember that Usman Danfodio, the Fulani crusader came into Nigeria for conquest and not for trade: To dip the Koran in the Atlantic Ocean. The crusade was successful until the jihadists were defeated and stopped by the Tiv army. Were it not for this defeat by the Tiv people, they would have overrun Nigeria long ago. The death of their champion in this ill-fated invasion then stopped their meteoric advance southward. The Fulanis have not forgotten or forgiven this humiliating defeat: the only one that they suffered in Nigeria. To a large extent, the protracted invasion of Tivland is partly to revenge this defeat and secondly, to accomplish their age old campaign to take over Nigeria for Islam. Sir Ahmadu Bello was unpretentious about this agenda when he declared that Nigeria was the heritage of the Fulanis (in particular and not the general North). They equally believe that rulership of Nigeria is their birthright. This is one reason that Boko Haram emerged: To help turn Nigeria into a Caliphate as had been programmed. Sir Ahmadu Bello had given a time line of 50 years for this to happen. I guess that since the 50 years have lapsed, there is an increased tempo to actualise the dream.
Now, if the conquest of Tivland, Idomaland, Benue State and Nigeria is the real motivation, then the provision of Ranches and Grazing Reserves will not solve the problem. And our strategy will equally have to change. I dare say that MOTIVATION holds the key to whatever solution we have to proffer to this nagging, vexing, and taunting issue. What really do the Fulanis want from Benue State? Is it grass, revenge or conquest? If government does not establish the motive, every solution provided will be a waste of time.
It has been reported severally that the immediate past administration had made some sinister agreements with the Sultan of Sokoto and the current administration of Governor Ortom is being blackmailed and cajoled to actualize them. For some obvious reasons, the present administration is unable to extricate herself from these ominous and cancerous agreements which will doubtless spell doom for Benue State. The State House of Assembly has also been compromised and is unable to defend the interests of Benue State. Could it be that they are using the EFCC case of the Assembly to silence the people’s representatives? My worry is: why can’t they tell the people the truth so that we can stand behind them and call off the bluff of the State’s enemies?
Remember that the Sultan of Sokoto had, during the administration of Governor Suswam, set up a Peace Committee in Benue State headed by his appointee, a Fulani Professor. This Committee was domiciled in Benue State but financed and directed by the Sultan from Sokoto. The Sultan further invited all Traditional Rulers in Benue State to a meeting which he addressed in Makurdi. On what authority did the Sultan summon the Tor Tiv, Ochi’Idoma, all First Class chiefs etc to this meeting? All these things were happening at the behest of the Sultan (and to the shame of Benue). The Sultan has visited Benue over five times. The first Sultan to visit Benue State in her entire history (and he is still visiting to ensure that Governor Ortom does not deviate from what they got Benue State to succumb to). The government of Governor Suswam had set up a Committee that agreed to things (with the Sultan) that utterly compromised the integrity of our State and well-being of our people. And Governor Ortom is under great pressure. He has already buckled. His replacement of the original Bill he presented to the House of is one such tumble! Our state is under suffocating siege right now: physical pressure from Fulani invaders and psychological pressure on our leaders to comply or face dire consequences. There is only one escape route at the moment: The youth of Benue State and the people of Benue must rise up and say NOOOO!!! to the Sultan of Sokoto and the Caliphate! Or else, the youth will fight battles throughout their lifetime when it is their time to rule and enjoy life! May elders also not bequeath adversity to our children and those yet unborn! What we do today, the stand we take today, will determine what our children’s tomorrow will be.
Benue State is under siege on all fronts. Governor Ortom has just appointed a Fulani man as Special Adviser on Fulani Affairs. The first in our history. There is no Special Adviser on Igbo Affairs even though Igbos contribute more to our economy than the Fulani and all other tribes in the state combined. I guess it’s because they have not risen up in arms against Benue. Fulanis are being compensated for destroying Benue State. This is the new trend in Nigeria. To reward those who fight the nation! Benue State government has also approved that Fulanis be appointed on the Security Committee of every Local Government. Why? Because to them, the fear of the Fulanis is the beginning of wisdom for Benue! What a shame!! Why are we having such weak leaders in quick succession?
It has been reported that Governor Ortom paid N10 million to one Fulani man for the loss of 107 cows at a time when thousands of Benue citizens have been murdered in cold blood, their livelihood wiped off, their homes, businesses, schools, Churches vandalised and destroyed without compensation, help, support or assistance from this same government. The message is ominous: The lives of Fulani cows count! Those of Tiv men, women, youth, and children don’t. If not, imagine the scale of destruction, the numbers of the dead, the maimed, the distressed, and those suffering physical and psychological traumas. Government has shown no pity, and no serious concern in the six years that this has been going on. Instead of the Fulanis paying reparations and compensation, it is Benue that is paying Fulanis for the atrocities they have committed against Benue State and her people.
Permit me to say this. Every government has a divine and constitutional duty to defend and secure her people. However, when government fails in this basic and fundamental duty, the citizens have the divine, natural, constitutional and inalienable right of self defence! If truly all that the Fulani want from Benue is grass, we can arrange that through mutual trade. But if it is revenge, conquest, or territory acquisition, Benue must stand up to them and defend and secure every inch of Benue territory. Mind you, we have not gone outside Benue State to confront the Fulanis. It is they that have invaded Benue territory. If the Federal Government is nonchalant or acquiescent, the people have a right and duty to organise self defence. The United Nations Charter guarantees us such right of self defence against any such aggression.
If this Government is being cowed, blackmailed, intimidated, manipulated, or tormented to cede Benue territory, Benue’s heritage, welfare, well-being, or future rest and prosperity of our children, they must tell the people who alone have the right to determine or mortgage their destiny. No government or House of Assembly has the right to put the people and their future to peril and jeopardy under any guise or circumstance!
Permit me to rest my case! Long Live Benue State!!!