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Open Letter to Aketi: Ondo Land for Fulani Herders? A Stitch in Time, By Bisi Kolawole

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Dear Arakunrin,

It is with a heavy heart that I write this letter to you. Ordinarily, I would have used the conventional means of writing to you via your office , but since I know that this would probably not reach your desk, given the system we practice in this clime when you’re in office, I decided to use this public forum. Thankfully, most of your aides are my friends not only in private but on social media and will surely ensure this gets to you.

I have just read that contrary to the public show of bravura on your part and in spite of the seemingly yeoman’s efforts you’ve displayed publicly on the vexed issue of grazing land for the murderous herdsmen, your government had capitulated and had indeed endorsed land allocation for herders in Ondo State to be used as grazing reserves for herdsmen under the National Livestock Transformation Programme of the Federal Government!

Sir, am sure you are aware that history is the future account of what we do today. Thus, whatever we do today should be deeply reflected upon to ensure that the accounts of such in the future will be favourable or kind to us.

And if you have taken time out to read the history of the Fulani all over Africa and specifically back in the days of Uthman Dan Fodiyo in the area now designated as Northern Nigeria in the 19th Century, you will be aware that the average Fulani would eventually take over and usurp the goodwill of his hosts.

The Habe Dynasty (indigenous Hausa rulers) were supplanted by the Fulani under the leadership of Fodiyo, who had come to the Hausa rulers courts as an itinerant spiritual teacher and cleric, very humble and, in time, cunningly gained the confidence of the Habe rulers.

Under the guise of religion, he gathered his bands of fellow Fulani from Futa Toro, Futa Jallon and elsewhere. Pronto, the Hausa rulers were annihilated and the Fulani became the overlords till this day! Fodiyo gave flags to his generals who went on to plant those flags on conquered lands and took the position of Emirs! The Hausa would forever regret their benevolence to Fodiyo and his people. This is a fact of history. It was a political uprising couched under the guise of religion Puritanism!

To buttress this point, the Shehu of Bormo, the indefatigable Muhammad el Kanemi had a bitter experience with the Jihadists who attacked his Borno Empire which had been under the Fulani (Shehus) in Borno for years before Fodiyo came into the picture in the North.

An astute solder, El Kanemi, himself a Fulani stock, had valiantly fought off the Fodiyo hordes with remarkable success and he was said to have bitterly openly queried Fodiyo’s rationale behind the attacks on his domain if indeed, it (the war), was for the Puritanism of Islam and not political since Borno was already an Islamic State before the advent of Fodiyo and under a Muslim too!

Your Excellency, the above is a fact of history which has spurned many doctoral works!

You will also remember the Afonja of Ilorin and his guest, Alimi and what happened to him for allowing Alimi to stay with him as a cleric and spiritual adviser!

While not saying that all Fulani herdsmen are bad but given the strange development of recent, especially with the coming into power of the current federal government and its apparent surreptitious tacit support of the acts of violence as seen by its actions/inactions and its now infamous body language, the Fulani had wreaked havoc and had become not only daring but murderous; killing, maiming, raping, kidnapping for ransom, pillaging and usurping peoples land with impunity. Expectedly, the Federal Government has either looked away or maintained studious silence thus emboldening the marauders to ride roughshod on the people!

The popular boast amongst them now is that the whole land in Nigeria belongs to them and nobody can stop them!

As a Governor and a very senior Lawyer (learned Silk) sir, you’re aware of the Nigerian Land law and how lands are acquired legitimately; it is definitely not by confiscation or by killing its owners!

As stated above, the danger in all of this allocation of land to a business that all have agreed is private one like any other businesses is not right; it will ultimately leads to chaos in the future. Anyone who wants to rear his animal should get his land legitimately like any other business owners and pay the necessary dues and get all documentations from the authorities. Simplicita!

Creating a land for herdsmen, given their tendency for usurpation, is tantamount to creating an additional State within a State for the Fulani in your State and with time, history will point to you as the man who sold your people to another Fodiyo in the 21st Century!

A few examples of recent in the South West will suffice: In Oyo State, the Serikin Shasha. Alhaji Mai Yasin, is now almost as powerful as any of the Obas in the State; he is the only law the Fulani would listen to. Indeed, Governors have to pay him a visit in his domain of recent following the inter tribal clash. Ditto for the Serikin Fulani of Lagos who is now almost revered above the Eleko (Oba) of Lagos even at the international fora!

Indeed, Governor Babajide SanwoOlu had to visit him in his Palace of recent and had suffered the indignity of a supposed Chief Executive of Lagos State standing up to address the nitwit ( who isn’t even a royalty but a self imposed mai ungwuar) who sat resplendent on his throne while the Governor addressed him and even had the effrontery to address the governor seated with one of his minions holding the microphone to his mouth while speaking!

Mr. Governor, in Ondo State, you’re about to make another Serikin Shasha in in the nearest future who will disdain whoever occupy your seat then. How will history paint you then?

Going by their antecedent, as stated above, the Fulani have their own crafty ways of penetrating into their host domains, later becoming arch enemies to their host by forcefully taking over the leadership of those territories; Hausas are regretting their acceptance with Fodiyo till tomorrow.

Arakunrin sir, the nexus of the inherent problem in the creation of grazing land is for tomorrow. Just like it’s happening in some Shashas in the South today, the Fulani would bring in hordes of their kith and kin in truckloads in their million to populate the allocated land. And, given their proclivity for multiple recreation, the grazing land would, in no time, be bustling with people and, soon, they will install a Seriki who will in turn install his own lesser chiefs. Gradually, the Sharia lifestyle and customs would be forcefully enforced, and eventually, they won’t recognise any authority other than that of their own Seriki! Besides, the initial land to be allocated to them would not contain them and they will spill over all the State!

Sir, kindly borrow a leaf from those State Governors down South and in the Middle Belt who have kicked against the decision and stop this journey into a chilly future for all of our children when our lands are taken over by this action as it surely will. It is better we insist owners of the cows buy or lease land and ranch their cattle according to the laws of our land since it is a private business.

The sad reality, Mr. Governor, is that already, many people have been sent packing from their farmlands by these Fulani herders and if you go ahead and give land to private business people for their ranches or whatever now, it will have a rippling effect later on. Kindly recollect sir the legions of commendations your initial resolve to oppose the ills being foisted on our people by these same Fulani you’re now granting land to had attracted. How do we now take this sudden 360 degree about turn?

A stitch in time saves nine; a retreat now, in the collective interest of the good people of Ondo State will be the best thing to do. No to grazing land for anybody.

Thank you Your Excellency

Bisi Kolawole, Esq.Oba-Ile, Akure

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