Since the beginning of this year, Chief Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho has gained national prominence, after taking a hardline approach to the age-long Fulani Herdsmen crisis, in the South-western part of Nigeria. This crude approach to the melee, coupled with his history as a warlord has turned him to the messiah of the people. Igboho has been providing premium contents for the media platforms, with the unfiltered interviews that are granted in abundance. Everybody seems to have access to him, and he has a way of making statements that might shock electricity itself. This is good for business!
But at the end of the day, what will his efforts amount to? I am sorry to say that it will all be in futility at the end of the day. Very soon, the media platforms giving him audience will make a report about him, and there will be disappointing responses from their audience. From that point, the reporters know it is time to move on and look for something else to milk. This is the hard reality in the media.
Igboho may have good intentions, especially if we are to close our eyes to his political history. I don't blame those doubting him. Politics in Nigeria is more of 'the more you look, the less you see'. The players of the game are desperately out for the fulfilment of their self-interests.
Igboho has been making giant strides, and he has able to spark certain conversations even some governors are scared of raising, to avoid getting the big stick from the Federal Government. But this problem will never go away overnight. In Nigeria, when an issue is enmeshed in politics, it could be hard to find a solution. Sometimes, a way-out never comes. Look that the issue of Boko Haram terrorism, for example, it has been with us for over a decade. Arrests and prosecutions are being made here and there, and we don't know their sponsors. The story of the advent of Boko Haram depends on who you ask. Both members of the major parties, APC and PDP have different accounts that favour them, and the political brickbat never ends.
The Boko Haram insurgency has grown into a massive business enterprise, with the service chiefs alleged to be players in the market. Every year, huge amounts of money are allocated to the prosecution of the war, and a large chunk ends up in private pockets. The junior soldiers pay the supreme price with their lives at the war fronts. The spokesman of a South African private military company, once boasted that the security operatives in Nigeria, can end the prolonged war, but politics has derailed the battle.
The same political interference has affected the herders-farmers clashes. Buhari has his narrative, which he has been telling the international community, not minding if they believe him or not. He believes the fall-out of Libyan crisis involving the ouster and death of Muammar Gaddafi led to the proliferation of small and light arms in Nigeria, which are now being wielded by some criminal elements. According to him, a conventional herdsman only holds a stick and cutlass for cutting foliage, to feed his cattle. Probably due to his Fulani root, he only sees the herders as the oppressed and the farmers in their host communities as oppressors who are not interested in a unified Nigeria.
The host communities also have a political angle to the quagmire. They believe there is an insidious Fulani agenda aimed at conquering their territories surreptitiously. All manners of crimes ranging from murder, robbery, destruction of properties, rape, physical assault and any evil you can ever think of, have been linked to the herdsmen. The failure of the president to declare them terrorists like he termed IPOB, has been misconstrued as support for their actions.
As people continue to lose their properties and lives in the South-west to the marauding herders, the ruling elites in Yorubaland have been loudly quiet, and this isn't unusual. We have been here before.
When Igboho appeared to be pushing too hard, the Southwest governors gave the angry people a political gift, by banning open grazing and telling the herders to register with the state. Since the announcement was made, open grazing has continued like nothing ever happen. Nothing has changed. The governors are avoiding the issue for political reasons. There is an understanding that the South-western part of Nigeria might produce the next president in 2023 by an unwritten agreement.
Frontline Yoruba politicians like the governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu are reportedly jostling for the number one position. They need to be in the good books of the north to achieve that dream. If you speak against the Fulani Herdsmen, you will lose any present or future goodwill of the north which has the political numbers. Some of these governors are also boys of Tinubu. Any action taken by them could jeopardize his political chances in 2023.
All these accounts for why there is no real strong political figure backing Igboho. They all act like he doesn't exist, and he seems to be getting frustrated. He has now resorted to calling them out. Igboho can't do much on his own. Already, some northerners believe Igboho is part of the grand plan of some faceless politicians to maliciously win power in the next presidential election, using tribalism and disunity. Only God knows the real truth!
In the town of Ayete, Ibarapaland, another renegade identified as Iskilu Wakili, a Fulani, has reportedly set up no-cross zones and he also fancies an open confrontation with Igboho. Igboho is aware of Wakili's existence and he is ready for a showdown as long as Governor Seyi Makinde sanctions it. These are clear features of a failed state, where the government can't maintain the monopoly of the use of force.
The long term solution to the challenge is ranching, but it appears the discussions on it have died. The herders need to be educated against their archaic method of grazing and migration, with strict penalties attached to defaulters not ready to resist change. The present administration is not interested in this route, but shortcuts. Indeed, there are no shortcuts. Any shortcut will also suspend the problem temporarily and never solve it.
On how the Igboho saga will end, the carrot and stick approach might be adopted. It is either Igboho is bought by the Federal Government with an irresistible offer to make him stay silent, and sheath his swords, or he is labelled a criminal and arrested.
I strongly suspect that with the turn of events, ethnic crises might erupt as intolerance is already brewing up. The Federal Government will pretend to arrest the chaos by going after the arrowheads, and Igboho falls.
Nothing is impossible in Nigeria. If you think the heavens will fall if Igboho is arrested, remember the 20th of October, 2020. Nigerian soldiers opened fire on defenceless EndSARS protesters at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos State. Many were injured, others died and many still missing. The mystery behind the bloody event is yet to be unravelled to date.
Written by Osahon George Osayimwen
Email: [email protected]