“If it is Fulani today, yesterday, it was the Igbo”
-Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah.
To compare the situation of the Fulani in the south today to the situation of the Igbo in the north in 1966 is disingenuous and dishonest. The Igbo did not slaughter the Fulani in the 1966 northern pogroms but rather it was the Fulani that slaughtered the Igbo.
In 1966 alone, no fewer than 100,000 innocent and defenceless Igbo were butchered in the north. Today, it is again the Fulani militias that are slaughtering thousands of Igbo, Yoruba and other southerners all over the south. They are also killing Middle Belters.
The South and the Middle Belt do not have a tradition of killing the innocent and the defenceless but the Fulani do. If they do not want to be stigmatised and regarded as butchers and terrorists, they must stop their herdsmen, militias and cells from slaughtering our people.
During the civil war, the whole of Nigeria unleashed genocide on the innocent Igbo civilian population of Biafra but that was an isolated event. The Fulani have been doing it to others since 1804 up until today.
Any comparison between the behaviour and experiences of the Igbo and the Fulani in Nigerian history is painful, insensitive and inappropriate.
The Igbo have suffered too much at the hands of others for them to be compared to the Fulani. It is like comparing the experience of the Jews to the experience of the German Nazis or the Arabs.
Both races have persecuted and tormented the Jews and the State of Israel more than any other. We must not make such comparisons in the name of political correctness or anything else.
Bishop Kukah also suggested that those who expressed grave concerns and raised issues about Fulani herdsmen appearing in our passports were wrong and ought not to have done so.
He argued that since other tribes and cultural institutions from the other five zones of the country were reflected in the Nigerian passport, dedicating one page to the Fulani herdsmen was no big deal.
Hear him: “When I look at my passport, it has the coat of arm and map of Nigeria. Then right in front of the data page where all my information is, I have the Bini. I am not a Bini man, but I am eminently proud of this. I didn’t even know it was here, because I had to go through the passport page by page. When I opened the passport, the first thing I saw was Zuma Rock, then, I saw Tiv dancers. Who gave them permission to put Tiv dancers? Then, I got to next page, before I came to this poor Fulani man who is standing with his cows.
Suddenly, this is the only thing we have chosen. Why is it exciting? It is exciting because this is the time for us to ‘hate’, literally tag every Fulani as a herdsman. We are on a very dangerous precipice.
Those who lead us should better stand up and tell us where we are going”.
With the greatest respect, once again, I humbly disagree with the Bishop.
It is true that not all Fulani are herdsmen and that not all herdsmen are terrorists but since when did violence and charmed cows become part of our culture?
We must stop brushing the rubbish under the carpet, burying our heads in the sand and acting as if times and people have not changed. The peaceful, harmless, good-natured Fulani herdsman of yesterday has gone forever and is a thing of the past. If there are some left, they are very few and they are hardly representative.
The truth is that the vast majority of today’s Fulani herdsmen are NOT a harmless group of pastoralists but a highly motivated, deadly, relentless, vicious, well-organised and well-funded terrorist organisation that has been described by the Global Terrorism Index as “Fulani militias” and “Fulani terrorists” and not “Fulani herdsmen”. It is only in Nigeria that we call them “herdsmen”, “bandits” or “Fulani herdsmen”.
The truth is that these so-called herdsmen have become the symbols of bloodshed, terror, mass murder, ethnic-cleansing, genocide, carnage, torment, trauma, and evil.
They represent nothing other than cruelty, suffering, land-grabbing, church-burning, home-stealing, raping and pillaging and they are instruments of occupation, domination and conquest.
They have slaughtered more Nigerians over the last four years than Boko Haram has done in 10 and they have been designated as the fourtht most deadly terrorist organisation in the world by the international community.
To dedicate a page of the Nigerian passport to them and paste their picture on it represents the biggest and most gratuitous insult to the Nigerian people that has ever been served.
It is like dedicating a page of the Israeli passport to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis that slaughtered six million Jews.
It is like dedicating a page of the Southern Sudanese passport to the Janjaweed Arab Muslims of Darfur that slaughtered hundreds of thousands of black African Christians in the Sudan.
It is like dedicating a page of the Congolese passport to King Leopold II of Belgium and his people after they butchered 10 million Congolese.
It is like dedicating a page of the Rwandan passport to the Hutu Interahamwe after they wiped out one million Rwandan Tutsis.
It is like dedicating a page of the American passport to the rebel Confederate forces of the US civil war and to the Ku Klux Klan who slaughtered millions of black Americans over the years and who insisted on the perpetuation of the institution of slavery.
It is like dedicating a page of the South African passport to the white supremacist Boers and Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers of South Africa who founded and established the apartheid state, who butchered millions of black Africans over 400 years and who believed that the black man was no better than an ape.
Such a gesture is heartless and unforgivable and it is unbecoming of even the Buhari regime. It is insensitive. It is callous. It is wicked. It is uncharitable. It is unkind and it is evil.
The worship and veneration of cows and cow-loving is alien to the Nigerian culture and it is regarded as an abomination.
We are a nation of believers who worship God and not one who worship cows. Those amongst us who regard cows as wives and who value the life of a cow more than the life of a human being are not Nigerians but aliens that come from a distant land outside our shores.
To paste such people and their accursed cows on our international passport and compel Nigerians to carry them all over the world with us as part of our national identity, heritage and culture is unacceptable and too much to ask.
We reject it in its entirety and we insist that the Buhari administration remove that accursed page forthwith and replace it with another symbol that truly represents the noble, enlightened, civilised and laudable nature and heritage of the Nigerian people.
We refuse to accept a symbol that represents a retrograde, barbaric, blood-lusting, vampiric, malignant, malevolent and bestial foreign heritage and culture on our passport.
All the political correctness in the world cannot change this bitter truth and the Bishop Hassan Kukahs of this world, whose Kataf, northern minorities and Middle Belt people have suffered in the hands of the Fulani more than most, ought to appreciate that.
Chief Fani-Kayode is a former Minister of Aviation