Are Fulani herdsmen overrated?
The last several weeks have been witnessing some strange, and, in fact, unprecedented situations in the southern part of Nigeria especially in the so-called Southeast and South South geopolitical zones. In spite of the rigidly enforced nationwide lockdown prohibiting interstate movements over the coronavirus pandemic, there have been noticed unending streams of mass movements from northern Nigeria down to the southern part. Never in the history of Nigeria had there been such intense mass movements from the north to the south within a short space of time. The natural trajectory of migration in and around the country from the time of the colonial masters has been from South to the North. The north with its beautiful arable lands and abundant natural resources has always been the place many in the south migrate to in search of the means of livelihood. The North sparsely visits the South. And such visits when they occur, have always been in trickles and never in large crowds of young men and women wafting down south in fleets of haulage trailers or convoys of huge transport vehicles numbering in forties and fifties. There is hardly any doubt that the current coordinated mass movements of Northerners down south are contrived and intended for a purpose that cannot be anything but sinister.
On the part of the southerners, the buzz has been that the dreaded Fulani herdsmen of the middle-belt-genocides fame in coordination with Boko Haram and Islamic State Of West Africa militants that have been wreaking havoc and committing heinous atrocities in the north eastern part of Nigeria have begun to redeploy to the southern part and readying themselves to launch their bing pastime, which is a killing spree among unprotected villagers in the zones. Over the last ten years or so, this has become the gruesome trademark of these heartless Islamic invaders. In view of the tragic history and pedigree of these new influxes into the southern zones, several clarion calls have gone out warning the people especially the longsuffering Igbos that the new waves into their zones were nothing short of heartless invaders with a deadly mission.
The alarm has become so hysterical that many commentaries and even recorded voices in the social media are warning that the deadly Islamic invaders have already gained some strategic advantages by taking over most of the bushes and forests in the zones. Some journalists and researchers have taken the pains to list out the particular communities of the zones where the so-called waves of militants have allegedly gained some footholds in their surrounding bushes and forests. And the number listed so far runs frighteningly into several hundreds.
According to the repeated warnings pouring into the southeast and South South zones, the militants hiding in those forests are waiting for the final signal for them to begin their operation of massacring innocent villagers of the zones. And as if to confirm fears of an imminent invasion of southern Nigeria, haulage trucks purporting to transport foodstuff, livestock and building materials from far north to the south have been intercepted at the state borders with scores of local and foreign young men and women from northern Nigeria hidden alongside ammunitions interlaced with merchandise they use as a cover. As if that was not enough, many leaders of the violent Islamic sects such as the Mayetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, have been warning southerners especially the Igbos of the southeast and South South that unless they surrendered and turned over their bushes and forests to the militants, they would be attacked and wiped out of existence. The noise of the threats from the various Islamic militants warning of imminent invasion of the predominantly Christian southern Nigeria has reached such a high decibel that the different leadership groups of the Igbos from the different parts of the world have begun to take notice and to make some arrangements for some form of self-defense against the threatened invasion.
Fortunately the Igbos are coming to these threats with a lot of experience. In the last one hundred years, the Igbos in Nigeria have been massacred several times. The mother of all genocides against the Igbos of Nigeria took place on the eve of Nigerian civil when up to three million of them lost their lives in the pogrom that took place against them in the north from 1966-1967 and the civil war that followed it up in Igbo land from 1967-1970. Presumably, the Igbos have gained a lot of experience enduring all such genocides that have always been a part of their history as a forced member of the Nigerian nation. But the question is, will they ever make their experience count to their advantage especially now their oppressors appear intent on carrying their usual pastime of gratuitously murdering innocent Igbo people right into their villages? Since the beginning of the new deployments of Islamic militant troops to the Southeast and South South zones Igbo leaders have been doing a few commendable things along the line of securing their interstate borders and combing their bushes and forests in an attempt to flush out the militants. The example of Delta State Igbos is worthy of commendation and emulation by all communities in the two zones. The Deltans deployed their young men to comb through the forests and burn down settlements of those militants while urging their former residents to come out and integrate themselves with the rest of the citizens living in the streets. Deltans arguably have the best strategy to checkmate and defeat the invading militants. It is as simple as denying them illegal residency in the forests and bushes around the southern zones.
Another great development in this very trying time in Nigeria is that the strong contingents of Igbos and southerners in diaspora are keeping a close tab on the events at home and have enlisted completely in the struggle to deny the invading militants any lasting strategic advantages in the zones. Apart from donating huge sums of money and materials to weather the COVID-19-induced sufferings which the compromised and Islamic militancy-colluding Federal Government is exploiting to punish their usual victims, they have engaged fully in the necessary diplomatic moves and shuttles to alert the various organs of the international community about the impending invasion and possible massacre of innocent Christians from the southern zones of Nigeria. This is also worthy of commendation and emulation by all who wish to help the cause of securing and preserving the lives of innocent Christians from southern Nigeria. But in spite of the great steps being taken by the various groups of southern Nigeria and Igbo leadership to address the supposed imminent invasion of Islamic militants of their territories, it seems that only one step is necessary in our view. It has to do with how the peoples and leaders of Southern Nigeria manage their fears. As one of the greatest American presidents, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, stated during the second world war, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. The threats, mass movements and blustering of those militants and their leaders have only one goal in view.
And that is intimidation and instilling of fear among the people. Fortunately the Igbos who have been through so many rounds of blustering and threats by Islamist militants in their history are not expected to fall for this latest round of threats and intimidation.
The truth is the Islamic militants’ prowess is grossly overrated in Nigeria. Their military might is terribly exaggerated. If you look at their track records in their drunk militancy all over northern Nigeria, they pass only as hopeless cowards. They only carry out their atrocities in unprotected villages and against innocent peoples from their zones. Their successes against the grossly under-equipped and ill-fated and unmotivated Nigerian forces are completely dependent on mounting random ambushes with information garnered from their spies that abound among the Nigerian military. They are hardly ever successful in face-to-face battlefields with any organized military formation. They are specialists in guerrilla warfares in territories they are familiar with. In their campaigns in Nigeria, they have been dealing with inexperienced and malnourished peoples from remote areas in northern Nigeria. Islamic militants in Nigeria have never had to meet or confront a people with a history of battlefield gallantry such as the Igbos of Nigeria. The so-called strategic advantages they enjoyed up north will never be available to them in the southeast and South South zones should they attempt to carry out their threats against the zones. Granted they have for years had their foot soldiers among the artisans and motorcycle transport riders they sent over as their advance parties to spy out the zones for them. All those people will not be of much help when the chips are down. When the Christian Igbo boys and girls are forced to defend their territories against Islamic militants, those they have earlier sent over as spies and members of their advance parties will not worth a day’s job.
This hapless generation of Hausa Fulani militants that seems always intoxicated by blood from war and genocide is yet to confront the cream of the Igbo nation at war. Their fathers and grand fathers who fought against the Igbos during the civil war are not helping their children and younger ones any bit. They are foolishly and sheepishly nudging and goading them to provoke and court a war they have a zero chance of winning. If the Islamic elders in the north would guide their youths aright, they would warn them to beware and avoid completely the zones of the south east and South South. This is a region that must always serve as the Waterloo of Islamic fanatics and warlords. There is never a time the militant Fulanis and ISWAP allies will take over the South east and South South zones and convert them to Islamic caliphates. It will never happen. They can hallucinate and dream dreams of dipping their Qu’ran into the Atlantic Ocean in the South. Their dream in this regard will remain empty forever. If the current Hausa Fulani militants who are totally ignorant of the true history of the artificial contraption called Nigeria make the stupid mistake of mounting a killing spree of innocent people in the southeast and south zones of Nigeria, they will lose their place in this country. They should heed the warning of a Biafran war song: Never touch the tail of a cob whether she is dead or a life.
The southeast and South South zones are the only zones in Nigeria capable of raising a two million man army within two weeks. This should serve as a stern warning to all those who are dreaming of violently planting the Islamic Religion in the zones by committing genocide against the people. Nigeria is a multiethnic, multi-religious and pluralistic country. The easiest way to live peacefully and progressively in this country is to live and let live; choose your religion and stick to it and allow others to do so freely. Any attempt to impose any religion on Nigerians will inexorably result in a tragic war. And the losers will surely be the Muslim North. Live and let live, my brothers, and fellow country men and women from the Muslim North.
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