You recently spoke on the herdsmen’s plight and the threat across the country…?
(Cuts in) I am seriously bothered on what is playing out and the dangerous dimension of ethnic, religious differences, the killings are now taking and I think we need to be very careful not to exacerbate issues. We have been suffering from these killings, especially in our Northern part of the country with kidnappings, banditry, but they were not very common before now but these days’ things have escalated to a limit where nobody is feeling safe even in our various homes. And now another thing is taking its dangerous turn which is this herdsmen issue. We all know that the herders’ issue is one that started with the way the country is being run. The country is run on the basis of clear, glaring inequalities, which are getting worse by the day. These herdsmen used to be very peaceful people living in the bushes with their cows. They were even afraid as we know them to come out to interact with the people outside the bush. But with the issue of Boko Haram and other vices, especially, when our security personnel were sent to the bushes, the story of herdsmen changed. This is a serious issue that must be investigated. There are allegations, reports that came out that when the security personnel were sent to the bushes they resorted to extorting the herdsman in the bushes and they had no choice, but to start coming out to the streets as they are now doing. The report says that some of the security personnel are engaged in seizing their cattle, asking them to be paying a ransom, paying huge fine before they could allow them to get their cattle back. The government knows that these guys are living and co-existing in the bushes, but the government never made any effort to create any type of nomadic education that will engage and enlighten them. I think it was only during the time of General Ibrahim Babangida that his government made an effort to create the nomadic education which was later abandoned by our careless leaders. If that nomadic education had continued, these guys (herders) would have found a kind of destination, but they have no life in the real sense of it and now the security personnel have turned them into mere monsters. You know they are so illiterate, they don’t know what is happening in the outside world, so you end up forcing them to take kidnapping as a way of living. This is what is now happening in the core North and in some parts of the Yoruba land. Now imagine a sovereign nation like Nigeria and we now have somebody like Sunday Igboho to now go into their villages and start killing the Fulani. When or where have we witnessed this type of bizarre happening? Where have we ever seen where the government allows a thug to go and take security action in his own hands? This is never done. Now, the thing has escalated into the killing of Hausa traders. Hausa and Fulani are the same tribe despite the wrong perception of some individuals. In fact, the way I am seeing it as a person, it’s like a kind of sentiment, a kind of hatred that is being created by our leaders. None of our leaders, no stakeholders etc, have come out to make conscious efforts either through emergency meetings etc, to salvage the situation. I have not seen where a country is run this way, it is worse than the animal farm. It is sad that it is only the strong that have a say and never protects the weak. The weak doesn’t have a kind of right to live like the powerful. I am very scared of what is going to happen in this country if we continue this way. I am afraid that if these things continue the way we are going, it is only a matter of time we will begin to witness reprisal attacks from other parts of the country because they are now killing innocent people, innocent traders and it is as if we no longer have soldiers or the police to arrest the situation. I don’t know where this leadership is taking us to. It is candid to say that what is happening in Nigeria today will not give birth to something good for our country. A lot of people are fighting for power in different sections and I ask if there are no people to rule, if there is no country again who will they rule? Who will rule who? I think our leaders have become more selfish and we the masses are very blinded because they (leaders) will always come to us during elections with their token to deceive us. We need to stop these killings. I am so disappointed with what is going on, especially with my hypocrite Northern brothers. Everybody is lying in their homes quietly as if nothing is happening, as if nobody is being killed. I think enough is enough; we need to come out and start speaking for ourselves. I saw people on social media and it has gone viral, people being lynched and you can’t see it reported by the press. It is sad we under-report some very sensitive issues. The other day we were reporting Lekki tollgate, and all that, while some people were being lynched and nobody reported it. I did not read it anywhere. We are busy reporting violence in other countries while we are at war here. We are calling drums of war everywhere, secession and all that. And I ask, if we don’t have a country then who is going to rule who?
There is the allegation that some of these herders are not even Nigerians, but foreigners?
Let me be real with you. I am a proud Fulani lady, I am from the core North and I don’t like the treatment of this issue. Anybody telling you that it is only foreigners that are doing these things, what is the evidence? We have different categories of Fulani: there are the ones that live in the bushes, they don’t even have a relationship with Fulani like us and they are the ones that are doing this, but then you ask yourself why the escalation now? But this is not to rule out outsiders. Of course, our leaders have made Nigeria a ‘no man’s land’, where anybody can enter Nigeria anytime and leaves Nigeria anytime because we don’t have any border security. Nigeria is a no man’s land and you can’t try what we are witnessing here even in Niger Republic, Cameroon, Guinea etc. We could have tackled this herders issue long before now, but we are using thriving hatred, ethnicism, all divisive weapons to fan the ember. And our politicians are using it for their selfish political gains. It is Benue State governor that fuelled this whole issue; it could have been tackled long before now. Instead of the state governors quenching the fire, they are doing a blame game. One governor said the Fulani should be allowed to carry an AK47 rifle, that they have the right so as to protect themselves, I think that suggestion is very wrong. Our own Fulani brothers are the ones doing this and I don’t know why they are doing it. It is condemnable, but it is the duty of the government to do necessary profiling to be able to know those that are involved, but the government is not doing what is expected of them. You don’t run a country this way. I am ashamed of my media people because most times they carry the negative news that will raise tension rather than report news that will build us.
What do you think is the solution or perhaps what do you expect the government to do?
We all know how a proper country is being ruled by its leadership. If we have a good government that cares for all its citizens, we won’t be talking about some of these things because the government will rise to the challenge, even from the beginning to tackle it. It is sad that Nigeria is all about self, all about who is who; it’s all about personal gain. Our so-called leaders don’t come out to be leaders because they have something to offer or feeling that they can make the country, but they only rule, take up power because they want to be rich. I keep telling people that politics is not a means of becoming rich, leadership is not a means of living, if you want to make money go to the market, look for a business to engage yourself. But when you want to be a leader, you have to sacrifice. Politics should be a mission to serve. Imagine a presidential candidate saying that he is going to favour his friends and family. Who told him that being into power is about favouring one another of their stock, no, it is about favouring all, favouring the nation, doing the right thing at the right time, caring for the people, making sacrifices for the good of the people. We have to know the real meaning of leadership first before going for it. We should know that getting a political office is not to go there to amass wealth. Are political office holders going there to make themselves rich or are they there to serve the nation? This is what we must first define before going into political office. The government should rise up to its responsibility and be on top of the challenges bedeviling the country. If the government do the right things, ensuring there is justice, equity, fair play, showing concern to all, not being partial, not having their favourites, avoiding unnecessary sentimental, cultural, ethnic, religious attachments, etc things will get better. We should look at how other decent societies are tackling their challenges and perhaps learn one or two things from their model. We must put a stop to discrimination; ensure that the welfare and protection of Nigerians are guaranteed.
Transparency International gave a disturbing report on Nigeria’s corruption index and the government is faulting the information…?
(Cuts in) How will the government say the report is wrong? What will Transparency International stand to gain giving false information? Was the report not a survey with other countries? The reaction of the government is laughable. Even the people within the government are saying that there has never been a time that we witnessed corruption in the magnitude it is happening today; that even the 16 years of the PDP in power was not as corrupt as this government and, of course, we are seeing it, nothing is hidden. The PDP’s own was that when they give contract they will cut and cut and cut from it, but now what you will see will shock you, massive looting and they will clean their mouth as if nothing is happening. They will shamelessly be mouthing corruption war, pointing accusing fingers at others while they are the real offenders. Nigerians are disappointed with this government because despite our high expectations corruption is now something to be proud of, young boys that we know who were nothing yesterday are today counting billions and they are proudly displaying it. Don’t we see their mansions? Don’t we see their reckless lifestyles or you want to tell me it is their salary? How much is the salary for God’s sake? What we are witnessing is sickening? This government has failed woefully and they should sit down and address issues properly rather than quarreling with the TI report that is very right. The government has done nothing about corruption in Nigeria; under this government corruption is worst and happening with expertise, with impunity. If we continue with the present rate of corruption, Nigeria may probably collapse, and this is the truth. Nothing is working, look at the economy, look at the three cardinal issues that brought this APC government to power: security, economy, corruption fight, which one of them has been fixed or that you can give a pass mark? All we see is hi-tech propaganda, flowery political languages, some of abuse, which is not taking the country anywhere, rather making the country worst than it was. It is a shame.
Are you saying that even the school feeding programme of this government should not be commended?
Is there really anything like that and it is working? I could remember during the heat of COVID-19, when there was a lockdown and the children were at home they were still budgeting billions, saying they were feeding the children that were in their homes. Which children were they feeding with such a budget? I made this research personally and I asked a lot of people from the lower class to know if their children were receiving the foods. I am a typical villager and I went to many places in the core North to inquire, to make the findings nobody has ever told me that yes my children or my child is receiving from the feeding programme. Imagine the vice president will be mentioning the number of cows, eggs that were given to the children. Haba, how shameless? It is really unfortunate.
How can Nigerians rescue the country given your sad observations?
If we want to rescue Nigeria we have to first believe that we don’t have any other country than Nigeria. Secondly, we have to wake up, the youths must be conscious of what is going on. I have discovered that most of the youths that are doing well, the comfortable youths, those in good jobs are feeling unconcerned; they feel it is not their job to assist in salvaging this country. They feel that most of us that are here on the street of politics to play our own quota that we are crazy. They say we are spending the little we have for politics, but if Nigerians don’t come out knowing that we are all stakeholders in this country and pursue one common goal, throw these people that have been enslaving and deceiving us through the ballot with our votes and recover power. We must be sensitive to know those we elect to hold political office. We must ensure that they are people that have the interest of the people at heart. We must do away with all these people that have stolen so much from us. We have to regain our power and know that if this country continues this way there will be no Nigeria soon, there will be no Nigeria for our kids. I am not a prophet of doom, but all evidence points to a looming disaster if we keep moving this way. The struggle to save Nigeria should not be a one-man job and if Nigerians do not wake up from their slumber, from their long useless sleep, we will never get it right because the majority of those handling the clutches of power have shown that they have nothing to offer us except for personal gains. So, Nigerians should stop watching the destruction of the country, our only country that belongs to all of us that we can call our own, and start acting. It is a game of number, if we stand firm together, no matter how rich they are and we reject what they are doing, they will have a re-think in their attitude. I was talking to one of them the other day and he was boasting that there is nothing the people can do to them because they have the money. Imagine that shameless boast. We know them, we can collect their money, afterall it is our money and will not vote for them. But it is sad that even an orange seller will sometimes want to cheat you with 20, 30 or 40 naira. But Nigerians must take a stand and say: enough is enough. I am always getting confused by the day about what is going to be the tomorrow of Nigeria looking at the way we are going. The only thing we have which is our peace they are gradually taking it away and if we allow them take it from us that is the end. We have seen Somalia today, we saw Congo, we saw East Africa and other African countries as well as in other parts of the world. We must reject this oppressive status quo.