Fulani herdsmen attacks can lead to ethnic warfare

Elder statesman and former House of Reps member representing Lagos Island during the Second Republic, Honourable Adekunle Alli in this interview, x-rays burning national issues.

There has been upsurge in killings by Fulani herdsmen in different parts of the country. Only a few days ago, over 40 Igbo citizens were murdered in cold blood by these rampaging herdsmen. What does this portend for our nascent democracy?

I am not so worried about our return to democracy, but I am worried about the future of the country itself and that future means its national integrity. The Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, the Fulani herdsmen as they are called in the south west and parts of the south east, the two coming from the north, I don’t want to believe that it was premeditated or organised secretly by anyone but I think it is a fearful development if it is not arrested in time. And I am very glad that only yesterday, the President, himself, a Fulani man was said to have called on the army to clamp down on these ravaging Fulani terrorists, I will call them. Where they get their weapons from, I don’t know, but I sincerely hope that there is no international conspiracy behind the whole movement.

But then again, another school of thought says that the Fulani herdsmen that we used to know are peace loving. What could have transpired that would make a supposedly peaceful Fulani man to begin to carry arms. Don’t you see a new dimension in terrorism even as many are wont to believe that the Boko Haram may have infiltrated their rank?

It is not impossible giving the way and the rate at which Boko Haram developed in this country and the fact that they have not been successfully subdued by the authorities but a distinct development about it is that while should the Fulani herdsmen held south for grazing land for their cattle? Where have they been grazing their cattle in the past? Or has the North become so decertified that there are no grazing land in the North again? I think there is something very hideous about this ugly development and I want to see how a democratically elected government can cope with this kind of situation

How do you mean?

Fighting battle on two fronts-against terrorists (I will now use the word terrorists for the two) when a man comes to your house with weapons, even if you as you knocked at my door and pointed a gun at me, I will know you are not coming as a journalist, you are coming as a terrorist with this proviso that you will send me out of this house, whether you can remain inside of it with the law on my side, but where the law has totally broken down, then of course it may be a different kettle of fish.

The present government has been variously accused of handling the case with less seriousness even as the president failed to make a categorical statement on the matter. The development has been translated to mean that the President is treating his Fulani brothers with kid gloves.

The pattern has not come out clearly to me but I am just hoping and praying, we are not going into another ethnic warfare Just to buttress your point, the Afenifere has reacted a couple of days ago saying that Yoruba nation would no longer fold its hand at the incessant killing by the herdsmen. The Agbekoya Farmers Revolution Council has equally condemned the act threatening to go for self help if the trend is not curbed I questioned the authority of Afenifere to speak on behalf of Agbekoya No, the Agbekoya issued a separate statement Then what is the connection between the two now? They are both ethnic champions Ok, then they are not political organizations anymore, they are ethnic champions and that is what they made us believe. Whether they have the capacity to translate their activism into effective action is another thing.

But you cannot deny the fact that one of the prominent members of Afenifere, Chief Olu Falae has been a serial victim of these herdsmen in his farm?

It is a pity that even the last government had been viewing the country in the light of conflict between the south and the north and therefore gathering together the elements in the south to form a block to be able to confront the northern power block and of course, it is well known that the Afenifere leader who was attacked by the Fulani collected on behalf of Afenifere N100million On behalf of his party SDP? Which is another smokescreen for the Afenifere and don’t forget he was the candidate for the Afenifere in 1998 presidential election but he did not succeed so w cannot isolate this from the trend which is forming up in the country which I personally opposed. If we want one Nigeria, let it be, but if we don’t, well, but it must not be by these subterranean military incursions into ethnic territories even though it has been prophesied by foreign powers that by the 2015, there will be no more Nigeria. The election we held falsified that prediction, but whether this is the continuation of this foreign assumption is another thing. So, if the government really comes down hard on the Fulani terrorists, then of cours, there is hope for the future but if we are left to self help, I think that may be the beginning of the end for the country and that is what I don’t pray for.

But that stills boil down to the inactiveness on the part of the government because Boko Haram started as pockets of resistance by some Islamic fundamentalists but has become a festering sore over time. Don’t you think that these herdsmen are making a statement to break the country?

They have not made a statement. Are they organized at all? They are jut wandering bands of herdsmen who happen to posses ammunition or they are just another group which have been infiltrated by this international terror group like the ISIS

Perhaps entering from the porous borders in the country?

Yes. And don’t forget when we talk of porous borders, the borders in the north. I don’t know if you have been to the North before, there is not any worse word one can use than porosity. it is virtually not protected. Nothing whatsoever to demarcate except communities which recognize authorities from one side or the other and something I have read which worried me about Boko Haram sect was that, this is how Vietnam war started more than 60 years ago before it resulted to South and North Vietnam which is still the political division of that country till today. One having to perpetually depend on one foreign power while the other one is also depending on another foreign power and the country becomes so to say, balkanized, both politically and militarily. It is a foreboding prospect but I just hope and pray that we will not get to that stage which I am trying to catalogue to you.

The 2016 budget is actually attracting a life of its own if I may say because of the controversies it has generated. As at today, the President is yet to assent the Appropriation Act as a result of discrepancies in the final list. As a former National Assembly member what do you think is the problem with this particular budget?

The budget basically is designed by the executive and presented to the legislature to ponder over it, considers it. we usually go into committees to look into the nitty-gritty of the budget, but one feature which appears to me from the reading of the budget this year was the changing of provisions in the constitution by the legislature without the consent of the executive is something strange and it has never occurred in my own experience. If there is going to be any change, then, there is a joint standing committee of the National Assembly drawn equally from the senate and also from the House which has to regulate or reconcile these differences but in this case, it was the whole thing which was sent back. Executive discovered that the original bill had been tampered with and that tampering virtually involved the total rehabilitation of the budget itself, removal of the railway project from Lagos to Calabar and transferred to other less important projects. In that wise, they have made the budget presentation, very complex. That is what I see about that. The scenario playing out in the 8th assembly has given rise to insinuations from many quarters as the Senate President is always in the dock at a time he supposed to preside over the senate. This has greatly affected the smooth running of the government as much attention is been drawn to the corruption trial at the expense of crucial national issues including the low pace of passing the budget It is not only the slowness in passing the budget it is the integrity of the National Assembly itself. In fact, I have written severally about it on the social media. If anybody has any modicum or propriety, he should have gone, he should have removed himself without waiting. But you see, the whole place is so corrupt. Indeed, it is hard for me to imagine any corrupt legislators in the past in the country than now. The whole place is so totally rotten and I am talking now of the senate, not the House of Reps. The House somehow, because of the number, they are still able to stay on course but the senate, no.. I wont touch it by a long spoon. Indeed, I felt it is the wrong type of people who find their way into the Senate because of the use of money to influence voters. I regret this kind of thing and the thing is affecting the entire senate to the extent that people are calling for the abolition of senate as an institution of the National Assembly, but I said no. it is not possible by the type of constitution we are operating. The senate is an integral part of the nation’s federal constitution. It stands for the equality of the state whereas the House of Reps stands for the equality of the voters.

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