19th century Italy was characterized by massive insecurity as bandits roamed freely throughout the country killing, maiming and raping the vulnerable. The government was clueless as to how to curb the menace and the citizens were regularly physically and psychologically battered left, right and centre with no end to their trauma in sight. A group in Sicily in the Southern part of Italy organized themselves into the mafia or Costa Nostra and began to offer protection services to the citizens who desired a life far different from their Thomas Hobbesian lot. The mafia promptly gained popularity and they were hailed by the ‘relieved’ Italians as the newly found Messiahs who had succeeded where the government had failed.
Political commentators recall how the Niger Delta Militants were given pipeline protection contracts as part of the fall out of their fierce agitation against the Nigerian State which saw them take up arms against her. The likes of Mujahid Asari Dokubo, Boyloaf, Ateke Tom who is now a traditional ruler, Tompolo etc rose up to ‘liberate’ their people from decade long oppression because of the reality of a failed state that the ‘Giant of Africa’ had tragically degenerated into.
A certain Sunday Adeyemo a.k.a Sunday Igboho rose to prominence when he confronted the Fulani herdsmen resident in Ibarapa, Oyo State and gave them a seven day ultimatum conveyed to the Seriki Fulani there to vacate the place. He went as far as physically going there to confront them and is said to possess mysterious powers as bullets by the adversary didn’t penetrate his body.
The Seriki Fulani was forced to flee from the area and a crisis thereby ensued between the Yoruba and Fulani community there which led to the burning of his house in Soka where he said he lost about fifty million naira worth of valuables.
When a nation fails in its responsibility to secure the lives and properties of her citizens, all manner of people will rise up to fill the lacuna as nature abhors a vacuum.
The Political Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari, Senator Babafemi Ojudu in an article that went viral opined that Sunday Igboho was a political thug who worked for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Igboho denied ever being a thug or even meeting Ojudu saying that he was a car dealer but he alluded to the fact that he worked for the former Oyo State Governor, Senator Rashidi Ladoja in some capacity and had a meeting with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in his famous Bourdillon residence where he was given the largesse of two million naira to fuel his car.
Igboho is now a folk hero as the residents of Ibarapa see him as a liberator and defender of the hapless masses as they feel that Governor Seyi Makinde wasn’t sufficiently hard on the herdsmen like his Ondo State counterpart, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu SAN who gave them an order to leave he forests and banned open grazing. The engineer turned politician is trying to play Pontius Pilate with the lives of his people for reasons best known to him and this action may cost him a second term in the Agodi government house.
Igboho is now even being courted by the Ogun State government where he had earlier expressed his desire to expand his liberation agenda there to chase out the herdsmen from the state which is closest to Lagos, the nation’s economic nerve centre. He is the new man about town in Yorubaland and seems to have conquered where the supposed stakeholders in the South West have been conspiratorially silent ostensibly in the ‘sinister’ bid not to hurt their 2023 political interests.
His new type of ‘success’ has attracted the ire of the leader of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Otunba Gani Adams who accused him of wanting to reap where he did not sow.
The porous system has produced Igboho and if care isn’t taken his brand of populism may lead to more disaster as the level of ethnic tension in Oyo state between the Yoruba indigenes and Fulani settlers is at an all time high. There is no need for another round of bloodshed as armed conflicts doesn’t really solve any crisis. We are grappling with the covid 19 pandemic which we have miniscule resources to handle; we cannot afford another round of ethnic conflagration.
The 18th century practice of open grazing which the nomadic Fulanis are accustomed to is anachronistic and at best should be the subject of study in history books or in the museums. It has led to numerous conflicts with their host communities as well as needless killings and maiming which has to be stopped immediately. I suggest ranching – the cost to be borne by the Fulanis. That is how it is done in the West and it doesn’t lead to any form of strife between the farmers and town dwellers. We should replicate the same here. The cows have even caused accidents on the roads and in some cases in the airports as some have found themselves in the runways. The forests should also be vacated as they have now become the haven for bandits, kidnappers and all manner of societal undesirable elements as well as dregs. The forests should not be surreptitiously converted into domiciliary edifices as that is not what they exist for.
The government should be more actively involved in the lives of Nigerians through the formulation of pro people public policies that will better guarantee the protection of precious lives and properties of the citizens. Honest and hardworking tax payers fund the operations of the government with their sweat and blood; they clearly deserve a better deal from it. For how long will hapless Nigerians keep bearing the brunt of a failed leadership with regards to security provision?
We do not need any more Sunday Igbohos as the world has long moved past the era of strong men in favour of sturdy institutions. We need virile institutions that can adequately protect the Nigerian people. Successful nations are not built on the back of strong men as it is not sustainable.
We cannot be practicing the 18th century Silician Mafian type of security provision in 21st century Nigeria. It is archaic and even against national interest as the likes of Igboho could become more powerful than the state and hold her to ransom.
It is high time Nigeria moved on with the times and current trends for the greater good of all. The time is now!
Tony Ademiluyi wrote from Lagos