Just as the American ruling class always use racism and racist tropes to divide White and Black Americans, and planted racism in the consciousness of Blacks to maintain their capitalist status-quo, the Nigerian ruling class, from post-colonial era to the present, has mastered the craft of tribalism as a tool to divide Nigerians along ethnic lines, prevent the unity of Nigerians and preserve their backward neo-colonial capitalist status-quo. The events in the last few days exemplified by the reactionary calls by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and Sunday Igboho for Fulani herdsmen to leave certain parts of south-western Nigeria underscore dangerous centrifugal politics of bigotry, hatred and tribalism. It is therefore important to expose the contradictions in these calls, so as to let the controversy around the problem of insecurity in Nigeria to rest.
The provision of security of lives and properties is guaranteed in the Nigerian constitution, and it is the responsibility of the Nigerian ruling class to protect lives and properties. The hopelessness of the Nigerian ruling class and their inability to solve the problem posed by insecurity and other problems facing the masses has made them resort to ethnicity and tribalism to divert the attention of people and give excuses for their failure. In fact, the inability to resolve the problem of insecurity has exposed the hopelessness, incapability, and incompetence of the ruling elites.
What led to security crisis is the condition of massive poverty, de-industrislisation, and unemployment, which has made a large army of unemployed army to resort to criminality as a leeway out of the crisis. This contradiction of neo-colonial capitalist system coupled with the inability of the Nigerian ruling class to develop agriculture into mechanised standards and their refusal to provide ranching for cattle-rearing; and equipments for Fulani herdsmen to ply their trade, have worsened the problem of insecurity. It is in the interest of the ruling class to keep Fulani herdsmen perpetually in deplorable conditions in the forest, because they have no incentive to provide education, healthcare, ranching and infrastructural facilities for them. In this regard, the Fulani herdsmen are held perpetually in forest, poverty and backwardness, the same way the working class are kept in abject poverty.
This deplorable condition makes herdsmen carry guns, invade people’s farm and destroy crops and farming products, as a way of surviving the hell they are forced into. Now an infinitesimal portion of herdsmen are resorting to deeper criminality—killing, armed robbery, and kidnapping as a way of making ends meet, after being recklessly abandoned by the ruling class to their own fate in the forest. Instead of acknowledging their failure to provide security, the ruling elites resorted to cheap ethnicity to divert people’s attention from their monumental failure. It is the failure of the state to provide security that led to the emergence of ethnic nationalist groups such as Amotekun, ESN and other individuals like Sunday Igboho to provide security for the people.
The ruling class are happy about these ethnic security groups because it gives them the opportunity to abandon their responsibility of providing security, divert people’s attention from their failure to provide security and use tribalism to divide Nigerians that certain sections of Nigerians are responsible for our security failure. By blaming Fulani herdsmen as the culprit that responsible for security problems, Governor Akeredolu is playing the game of the ruling class to divert attention of Nigerians from the failure of APC government he is part of, from providing security. The same way they created the condition for Fulani herdsmen’s insecurity is the same way they created conditions for Boko Haram terrorism, armed robbery, and kidnapping. This is not fundamentally different when the same ruling class who weaponised their political thugs and created the conditions for terrorising innocent citizens and foster insecurity.
The 7-days ultimatum issued to Fulani herdsmen to leave State forest reserve by Governor Akeredolu, and the ultimatum given by Odua nationalist like Sunday Igboho to Fulanis in Ibarapa to leave the area is tantamount to using tribalism to divert Nigerians’ attention away from the failure of the Nigerian state to protect lives and properties despite billions of military and police budget.
The culprit in this regard is the Nigerian state and its ruling class under the Buhari regime, not the Fulani herdsmen who resorted to criminality as a way of making ends-meet. The moment the system and the ruling class is removed from power, the easier the problem of insecurity would be resolved. Gov. Akeredolu has failed to develop agriculture into mechanised standard, enact anti-grazing law and establish state cattle-ranches for herdsmen, and therefore, has no moral authority to attribute insecurity to Fulani herdsmen instead of his own failure of leadership as the chief security officer of Ondo State.
In conclusion, those who supported Gov Akeredolu and Igboho in their reactionary and tribalistic calls are apologists of systemic failures, who are either consciously and unconsciously playing the game of the ruling class, who always planted tribalism into the consciousness of Nigerians as a way of making excuses for their failures. These cheap political points in labeling all the Fulani herdsmen as the criminals, rather than APC Buhari regime (in which Gov Akeredolu is part of), under which insecurity has festered in the last 5 years, should stop forthwith. Nigerians should therefore unite and challenge this ruling class in power (either in APC, PDP and others) and rescue Nigeria from the perfidy they created. Otherwise, this organisation of violence would continue in a country where haemorrhage of insecurity, terrorism and kidnapping has been the recurring decimal in the two decades.