Open letter to Godwin Obaseki
I chose this medium of an open letter to reach out to you because of the existential danger presently confronting the peoples of Edo State.
It is no longer news that Nigeria has become an open killing field stalked by so-called Fulani ‘herdsmen,’ a roving band of terrorists acknowledged by the Global Terrorism Index as the fourth most dangerous terrorist organisation in the world.
The crux of the matter is that while every community in Nigeria is alive to this danger posed by this band of terrorists and have openly rejected penetration projects variously referred to as ‘cattle colonies’ and ‘ranches’ advanced by their sponsors who currently control the levers of power at the centre, the governing elite in Edo State has maintained felonious silence over their forceful occupation of Edoland and murderous activities within.
It is possible that the silence is induced by honest ignorance of the dynamics of the activities of these terrorists on your part and therefore requires some enlightenment by a recourse to some aspects of our history.
History is a resource central to the survival of peoples and organisations.
As it is often said, it is the compass to navigate the past, appreciate the present and consider the future.
The Edo people fenced off attempts by neighbours and aliens to dominate them.
We did not impose our culture on them if they were sworn to oaths of peace and good neighbourliness.
As indigenous people with a legend of the creation of the world, we never ceded an inch of our territory to any other people.
We resisted the incursion of the British in 1897, despite their superior fire power and occupation of the capital, we waged enduring guerrilla battles against the British up to the time of so-called independence in 1960.
Importantly, before British invasion, the same alien forces who are ravaging all parts of the country in murderous adventures today invaded Hausaland in 1804 and seized the political superstructure of the Hausa who today are subsumed under their domination.
They indeed invaded Edoland from the north of our space known today as Kukuruku areas, a name engendered by the heroic resistance to the invaders known to oral tradition as Azanamas.
To be sure, in about 1850 during the reign of Oba Adolo (1848-1888), the Edo people fought wars with the Nupes who formed the bulk of the invaders under the superintendence of the Fulanis.
The Nupes who launched out on two fronts, westwards against the Yorubas and southwards against the Edos in their crusade against the peoples of the forest region met with resistance.
The Yorubas inflicted a crushing defeat on them at the famous battles of Osogbo spearheaded by the Ibadan forces in 1840 and later the British at Erinmope in the late 19th century.
They had a field-day in the Kukuruku country which they raided for slaves and altered the socio-political institutions of that part of Edoland a great deal.
In the records of the British, the Kukuruku division was formed with headquarters in Fugar in 1919.
Until this period much of Edo North, including Ososo, Okpella, Uzairue North and North Ibie were administered as part of Northern Nigeria under the British from Lokoja.
Indeed, without the overwhelming resistance from our forebears, we would have been living in a world of aliens (for a comprehensive knowledge, read Akhaine, S. O., The Kukuruku Wars and the Secularity of the Nigerian State: Some Preliminary Reflections).
Unfortunately, the British decolonisation process placed the levers of power in the hands of the same feudal forces and the dynamics of the civil war were to ensure their total control of the material forces of the state—all the instruments of coercion to ensure perpetual domination of the rest of the country (See Kunle Lawal, The Role of the United States in the Decolonisation process in Nigeria).
A recent writer and combatant in that war called the outcome of the civil war, ‘tragedy of victory.’
Your Excellency, the struggle for restructuring is to restore what Pa Enahoro called equitocracy to the federal arrangement of the country.
It is the extant relation of domination that Majors S. D. Mukoro and Gideon Orkar sought to undo in their military revolt of April 22, 1990.
It is exactly what the incumbent administration has been reinforcing by what is now famous as his nepotistic appointments in the security forces.
The partisan nature of the military in the genocidal war against peace-loving peoples of this country is legendary.
For example, when the people of Ukpabi Nimbo in Enugu in South-East converged to discuss their fate in the hands of the Fulani terrorists, security forces were deployed to halt the gathering while arrest were made.
Bosso Community in Niger State were attacked by the ‘herdsmen,’ and therefore primed themselves for self-defence.
For that reason, men of the 31st Artillery Brigade invaded the community in a dawn raid. Nearer home, after the killings in Ewu, Edo State, the innocent protesters were shot at by the military from a unit in Auchi.
There are more damning evidences across the country which lent credence to the accusation of complicity of the military/security forces by the former army chief, General T. Y Danjuma.
The above is to give you a sense of the continuity in the quest for domination by the Fulanis currently masquerading as herdsmen.
One of the methods they have adopted in recent times is what the British have called swamping.
They evacuate their people at nights into neighbourhoods and then form innocuous retail posts over which they make inroads into occupied communities.
It is an old stratagem they employed in Hausaland before take-over in the 19th century.
Having been profiled by their murderous activities, they have been unable to realise their occupation agenda so far.
The current minders of the Nigerian state whose interest is coterminous with this murderous ethnic group seek the realisation of the agenda through ‘cattle colonies’ and ‘ranches.’
Hence, the corresponding resistance across the North, Middle Belt and the South.
To be continued tomorrow.
Akhaine is associate professor and acting head, Department of Political Science, Lagos State University.