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The insolence of Rabiu Kwakwanso and the words of Inua Wada by Femi Fani-Kayode

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I am saddened that the former Governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwakwanso, a man whom I have always considered a friend and one whom I have always respected could insult our reverred Yoruba elders. A few days ago, during a function in Ibadan, it was widely reported in the media that he asserted that the recent demand by the Yoruba elders that all Fulani herdsmen ought to be banned from the South West as a consequence of the hideous atrocities that they have been committing against our people is somehow inappropriate and misguided.

Instead of stopping there, he went further by attempting to give us an unsolicited lecture about his Fulani heritage and pedigree and about the benefits of having a good education: imagine that coming from one of them. He concluded by telling the Yoruba elders to just ‘’shut up.’’ Such impudence and insolence is rarely seen and this final insult may represent a defining moment in the history of the relationship between the Yoruba and the Fulani in our country. Worse still, this comes barely a few weeks after Chief Olu Falae, a much-loved 77-year-old Yoruba elder, was abducted, incarcerated, stripped naked, beaten, cut with machetes, maimed, frog-marched, humiliated and kidnapped by a group of Fulani herdsmen. Unlike many others, Chief Falae was lucky to escape with his life.

These herdsmen and cattle rearers have become a terror and an affliction to our people. That is what we have to live with in the South-West and many other parts of southern Nigeria today. The Yoruba are still hurting from the abductions, murders, raids and consistent violence being meted out to them by these creatures from hell, yet no one seems to care.

Many Yoruba farmers are still living in trepidation of being attacked and butchered by the vagabonds and many have had to sit by helplessly as they raped and slaughtered their wives and daughters before their very eyes. Instead of attempting to calm our nerves and allay our fears by reaching out to us with an olive branch and condemning the criminal actions of his Fulani kith and kin, Kwakawnso has instead indulged in his provocative and dangerous diatribe.

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It is a manifestation of the crass arrogance that some Fulani leaders have cultivated over the years that they feel that they can insult us in this way and get away with it. Worse still they seek to defend, rationalise and condone the activities of their barbaric and murderous herdsmen who have murdered, raped and pillaged thousands of our people and forcefully taken our lands and crops over the last few years.

I will leave it to Afenifere, the Yoruba Council of Elders, the OPC and others to respond to Kwakwanso and those he represents because these are the groups and people that speak for the Yoruba nation. The only thing that I will say is that Kwakwanso’s thesis and theory about education being the answer to the menace and criminal activities of the Fulani herdsmen in the South-West does not make sense. It has no basis in logic, rationality or reason.

In any case, if the herdsmen are not properly educated and do not know how to behave in a lawful and civilised manner when they are in the territory of others whose fault is that? Is it not the fault of Kwakwanso and the other Fulani leaders who have refused to enlighten and educate their people over the last 50 years? That is the bitter truth.

You cannot stop those herdsmen that have chosen to be murderers, vagabonds and rapists by simply educating them because what they do is inherent within them. Those that have chosen the path of criminality and violence are suffering from a sociopathic and psychotic disposition. Simply put they have an insatiable bloodlust and an irresistible desire to hurt others and to steal, maim, rape and kill. When I say this, I am not referring to all Fulanis but only to those Fulani herdsmen who insist on indulging in violent and deviant behaviour in our land.

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The only thing you can do to stop such people is to make them face the full wrath of the law for the crimes they have consistently committed and ban them from entering our territory. It has nothing to do with education. We do not want these herdsmen amongst us anymore because they are like a plague. All they do is kill, steal and destroy. They have done it throughout the Middle Belt for the last 50 years and now they are doing it in the South and particularly in Yorubaland.

Do Kwakwanso and the other Fulani leaders expect us to keep quiet whilst their people are terrorising, slaughtering and robbing ours? If so, they are in for a big shock. We will not keep quiet, and we will also continue to insist that they must get out of our land. And if the government refuses to protect us from them, we shall take strong measures to protect and defend ourselves and our people. There is no crime in self-defence.

The days of talking down to us, treating us with contempt and treating us like slaves are long over. Kwakwanso and those he represents should not test our will or underestimate our resolve. We want peace but it cannot be at the expense of our lives, and the liberty and safety of our people.

The Yoruba cannot be butchered at will or treated like sacrificial lambs to the slaughter by anyone or any group of people. Senator Kwakwanso’s insult on the Yoruba elders will not go unanswered. Education is not the solution to the problem of the murderous Fulani herdsmen. Expulsion is.

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This brings us to the unfolding situation in our country today. It appears that the Fulani leaders of yesteryear were far more honest and forthcoming in the expression of their views and disposition about the South than the ones of today. Let us consider the following.

In an essay titled ‘’Nigeria’s History and A Morbid Obsession with Unity’’ written in the Vanguard newspaper on October 6, 2013, Dr. Douglas Anele wrote the following:

“Now, it should be pointed out that before the July 29th, 1966 (northern military “revenge”) coup, prominent Northern leaders, led by the Sardauna of Sokoto, much more than their Southern compatriots, disliked the unification or amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria. For instance, at the inauguration of the Richards Constitution in 1947, Balewa, who later became Prime Minister, declared, “We do not want, sir, our southern neighbours to interfere in our development. …I should like to make it clear to you that if the British quitted Nigeria now at this stage; the Northern people would continue their uninterrupted conquest to the sea.

“At the General Conference held at Ibadan in January 1950, the Emirs of Zaria and Katsina made it quite clear that ‘unless the Northern Region is allotted 50 per cent of the seats in the central legislature, it will ask for separation from the rest of Nigeria on the arrangements existing before 1914.’

“In March 1953 during a heated debate at the Federal House of Representatives, Ahmadu Bello remarked that, ‘The mistake of 1914 has come to light and I should like it to go no further.’ When a delegation from Action Group decided to visit Kano in May that same year ‘to educate the Northern peoples about the crisis in the House of Representatives over the self-government motion,’ Inua Wada, Kano Branch Secretary of the NPC, declared in a speech two days before its scheduled arrival that, ‘Having abused us in the South these very Southerners have decided to come over to the North to abuse us…We have therefore organised about a thousand men ready in the city to meet force with force.’

“Although the visit was cancelled eventually, it did not prevent the Kano riots in which scores of Ndigbo were murdered.”

Mallam Inua Wada, who later became Minister of Works in Tafawa Balewa’s government, was particularly virulent in his choice of words and many are of the view that his fiery submissions and threats resulted in the Kano riots of 1953 which took place two days later and in which thousands of southerners of mainly Igbo extraction were slaughtered.

To buttress and reiterate this point, Bobson Gbinije, in his article titled “Igbo and Northern Leaders: Hate and National Cohesion,” which was published on September 2015, wrote the following:

“The invidious and inveterate mutual hatred and antagonisms between Easterners and Northerners, through inspired hate speeches and media publications, dates back many years before independence. Sporadic out breaks in Northern towns, particularly the Jos riots of 1945, had been occurring in the past, but the British Administration barely took them seriously. However, after the ruthless massacre in Kano in May, 1953 the British were constrained to look into the matter by setting up a commission of inquiry on the Kano disturbances.

“The report on the Kano disturbances posited that the remote causes suggested at the time could not by any means be referred specifically to Easterners. The attacks were attributed to the clash of cultures, the disparities in economic and social development between Northerners and Southerners, the occupation of strategic posts in the administrative, technical and commercial sectors of Northern life by Southerners and the levelling impact of Western religion and political ideologies introduced into the North by Southerners.

“It is on record that there were series of polemical and aggressive verbal exchanges between Northern Representatives and the Action Group Members during the Lagos Conference. But the fuse that really set off the explosion in May, 1953 was the proposed visit to Kano of an Action Group delegation led by Mr. (afterward Chief) S. L. Akintola, an ex-Minister.

“The organisation and preparation of Northerners for the riots did not suggest to Easterners that they would be the main object of the attack. Northerners denied in 1953 that the massacres were ever organised or premeditated. But it is on record that two days before the disturbances began on Thursday, May 14, 1953, Wada, then Secretary of the Kano Branch of the Northern Peoples Congress and later Federal Minister of Works, convened a meeting of the Native Administration sectional heads at the works Department in Kano, during which he made a very ill-advised and provocative speech against the proposed visit of the Action Group delegation led by Akintola. Inua Wada said, inter alia:

“‘Having abused us in the south these very Southerners have decided to come over to the North to abuse us, but we have determined to retaliate the treatment given us in the South we have therefore organised about 1,000 men ready in the city to meet force with force. We are determined to show to Akintola and his group what we can do in our land when they come the Northern Peoples Congress has declared a strive in all Native Administration Offices for Saturday, 16th May, 1953. We shall post sufficient number of men at the entrance of every office and business place we are prepared to face anything that comes out of this business (end of quote).”’

It appears to me that with the “shut up” rhetoric of Rabiu Kwankwaso we may have another Inua Wada in the making. Whichever way, history must not be allowed to repeat itself and southerners must not be massacred. It is also clear that the violent and provocative rhetoric of today’s northern leaders will not go unanswered. Let us pray for the peace of our nation and let us hope that men like Rabiu Kwankwaso do not cause a second civil war.

Fani-Kayode, was a former minister of aviation

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