Herders: Why innocent Fulani must speak up – US-based activist

A United States of America-based Nigerian peace activist, Prince Ayo Manuel Ajisebutu has said the current herders/farmers’ tension across Nigeria is heightened by the inaction of the innocent herders who have kept mute while their kinsmen wreak havoc on host communities.

Ajisebutu likened the situation to the one described by the legendary Martin Luther King who says: “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

The activist said this in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja.

He said: “I am pained by the ugly development that continues to threaten the peace and unity of Nigeria. And it is just time we tell ourselves the bitter truth and safeguard our peaceful coexistence.

“These good ones among them must come out in one voice and condemn Miyetti Allah’s declaration that Nigeria belongs to the Fulanis – a very divisive statement that warrants the association to be proscribed as a terrorist group. These good ones, as I choose to call them, must expose the Fulanis that are arming poor herders with AK-47 and brainwashing them to kill non-Fulanis for the purpose of taking over Nigeria.”

Ajisebutu berated a situation whereby “several undocumented Fulanis are migrating to the Southern parts of the country at odd hours,” saying “there must be an investigation into these mass of people suspected to be non-Nigerians.”

On restructuring, the activist said: “The good Fulanis must see that key positions in government represent federal characters, unlike what we have under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.”

On the agitations for self-determination by some parts of the country, he said: “The Yorubas and Igbos that want to exit from Nigeria should not be forced to stay, especially now that we all can see the shortfall of the 1914 amalgamation. Nigeria should remain one country, only if the different ethnic nationalities are willing to come to a table of brotherhood to negotiate their coexistence.” 

He recalled that “the civil war in Central African Republic started because of an overbearing attitude of the Fulanis to governance, and therefore warned the nation’s leadership to see reasons to eschew all appearances of another civil war before it is too late.

On the #EndSARS protest, Ajisebutu said “it is unfortunate that not a single soldier has been indicted, let alone prosecuted, for the shooting of unarmed protesters at the Lagos Lekki Tollgate on October 20, 2020.”

“My personal appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari is to come out and speak to the nation as a loving father would, who is troubled over the divisions among his children and wants lasting peace in his home.

“The president must create communities of love where we will never witness again, the kind of violent events that happened in Ibadan between Hausa and Yoruba people. He must also reform the police and forestall such shameful incident where peaceful protesters and bystanders were arrested and dehumanised during the planned Ocuppy Lekki Tollgate protest February 13, 2021.

“The reasonable thing to do, as it is done in civilised societies, is for the police to arrange a section for the protesters to gather and protect them while they voice their opinion. Indeed, Nigeria should be the pace setter in governance for the rest of Africa,” the statement further  pleaded.  

U.S. Congresswoman, Barbara Lee, joined Ajisebutu’s organisation-Blendforward.org- to observe a candlelight vigil for victims of the #EndSARS protest, where she declared that the U.S. Congress was paying attention to development in Nigeria.