Fulani ‘crimes against peace’ in Ekiti and Ondo states
I just returned to base and headquarters from my first ever journey and visit to Ado-Ekiti, capital of Ekiti State, and environs including Oye-Ekiti, home of the robustly new federal university located there. (By the way, every Ekiti town and village and hamlet has “Ekiti” as a suffix, an affix, that follows its stem town or village or hamlet maybe to distinguish the indigenes as peculiar people and denizens of the hills, peculiar hill-dwellers of fair fortunes. I am not a rambler and perambulator but you must excuse my rambling and perambulation).
Before my journey, I floundered more than several times about how to get to my destination. Should I go to Ado-Ekiti by air or by road? If by road, should I brave the trip by boarding a public bus from Warri or from Benin or from Lagos? Or should I simply hire or charter a taxi from any of these cities and head straight to Ado-Ekiti? But why was I turning the argument round and round within myself? Did I see myself suddenly as a perdu whose thoughts were not ready to resume their forward march on account of their fear of Fulani highway men that were reportedly everywhere in Ekiti (and Ondo)? Ostensibly, my hosts in Ekiti assured me that my safety (by whatever means I wished to make it to my destination) was guaranteed. Based on their assurance I decided to soar to Ado-Ekiti by road via a hired cab.
Just before I concluded my arrangement for a road-journey, a young friend of mine, an Ekiti denizen, a thorough bred one at that, cautioned and warned me against making my trip the way I wished by road. He gave me the strong impression that the accusations of kidnapping crimes and other crimes against peace levelled against the Fulani in the Ekiti or Ondo axis were (and are still) justified. When I insisted on doing the journey the way I wanted it, he told me outright that I should be a cautious lion. I changed my mind. And I hinged the change on the legitimacy of the saying many of us know too well: “Discretion is the better part of valour.”
I called my Ado-Ekiti host-in-chief in the person of the one and only Professor Kayode Soremekun, Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti (FOUYE). My new plan met his approval although he still assured me that Ekiti State was not (and is still not) a place ruled by the law of the jungle or by the law of alleged Fulani crime committers against peace. He followed his sincere assurance with a clear clarification on how I should or could fly to Ado-Ekiti by air via Akure from Lagos for the serious business I was coming to FOUYE for.
At the Lagos airport (MM I and MM II) the cab I hired to take me from one point to another before I eventually boarded the plane to take me to Akure en route to Ado-Ekiti told me pointedly that it was wrong (and it is still wrong) to declare Fulani people or Fulani herdsmen personae non gratae in Akure or Ekiti axis. He told me that he was telling me what he was telling me as a son of Akure whose people had lived with Fulani herdsmen cordially for ages. The AK 47 carriers in Akure and Ekiti and environs cannot all be Fulani criminally-minded herdsmen. Many dirty lies have been poured on the heads of the accused Fulani herdsmen, many of whom are legitimate grazers. I did not know when I spontaneously said: “Fulani don suffer for Naija.” He was on the same page with Professor Soremekun who later told me in Ado-Ekiti that most of the media reports on the Fulani crimes against peace in Ekiti and environs are exaggerated and are not entirely correct. In any case, from my own personal assessment of my short stay in Ado-Ekiti all I can say for now is that there was no tension whatsoever in the capital or in Oye-Ekiti or in Ikere-Ekiti, the home-place of my fellow poet, our great poet Niyi Osundare. The present period of violence and insecurity in the land has, however, found the central government of General Muhammadu Buhari in the dock with the accused Fulani herdsmen. This explains why the Lagos taxi-cab driver, an Akure son, as already said, told me that the central government’s envisaged Ruga Settlement for Fulani herders should not see the light of day anywhere in Yoruba-land.
My main complaint against Akure and Ado-Ekiti, however, has to do with the terrible condition of Akure-Ado-Ekiti road. Hell! In truth, it is worse than hell. It is surprising that Akure of an acclaimed activist governor should be what it is. The Akure portion of the road to Ado-Ekiti is hopelessly hopeless. This is not to say or to suggest that the Ekiti stretch is good. That the governors of the two different states are progressives, we must say, is a big, big lie going by their hellish acceptance of the condition of the busy road that is too, too narrow for comfort, and that is full of murderous pot-holes that are more deadly and more murderous than murderous Fulani herdsmen. Haba, dear, dear progressive governors! I can say it authoritatively that the said road is worse than the terrible Sapele-Warri road in our dear, dear Delta State.
One more thing: the main thoroughfare called Adebayo Road, which seems to be the most significant road in Ado-Ekiti, was given its present shape of dual-way by the much maligned former Governor Fayose. The road, I understand, was initially constructed by the late military governor Adeyinka Adebayo hence the name Adebayo that it bears and may bear till eternity. By the way, nobody should give us the gist that the focused-on murderous Akure-Ado-Ekiti road is a federal road hence its present neglect. Give the story to the marines. And give former Governor Fayose his due that is his rightful due. Somebody even told me that the averagely motorable/passable narrow road from Adebayo to Oye-Ekiti and beyond was the former governor’s baby. If this is true then my point must have been pointedly made indeed. Clearly, Governor Fayemi should give serious thought relating to how he can improve substantially this road and to how he and his Akure (Ondo) counterpart can persuade the central government to re-construct the Akure-Ado-Ekiti road as a modern federal project. His practical and people-/masses-oriented thought on this and on how to make Ekiti people kill hunger that is killing them will prosper them and his administration more than his political and elitist thought on how to make General Buhari change FOUYE’s name to General Adeyinka Adebayo University.
The real joy I left Oye-Ekiti and Ado-Ekiti with was that there was no reported incident of Fulani ‘crimes against peace’ through-out the period of the spectacular events that many of us witnessed and enjoyed in Oye-Ekiti and Ado-Ekiti. And this peace activist of coastal Nigeria soared back home in peace and with abundant gratitude to his host-in-chief, Professor Kayode Somerokun and his immaculately handsome support staff. We must resist all exaggerations relating to the Fulani onslaught. But this is not to say that we in the South must hail the magicians and creators of the Ruga Settlement. Why am I saying so? The answer, the answer, is blowing in the forests of demons of the savannah variety of intrepid colonists.
•Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.
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