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Just like the presidency of Muhammadu Buhari, the South-West APC leaders not only live on borrowed times, they also appear hell-bent on squandering it. And like Buhari’s administration squanders the opportunities to tame the storms and turn the tides threatening to swallow him and his government as well as dismember Nigeria, so also are the South-West APC leaders genuflecting, grandstanding, and playing to the gallery when they should have made hay while it still shines. Nowhere and at no time was this better displayed than at their well-advertised meeting of last Sunday held somewhere in Lagos.
Whereas they met behind closed doors, their communique gave them out. And whereas they gathered ostensibly to discuss matters affecting the South-West geo-political zone, their first offering was to their god – Buhari. It is so instructive that the first item on the communique of a meeting called to discuss South-West issues in particular was a condolence message to Buhari on the air crash that claimed the COAS and other officers. Half of those lost to that crash were Yoruba but nowhere has the South-West APC leaders demonstrated any sensitivity to the heavy brunt borne supposedly by their own people. The South-West APC leaders left no one in doubt, again, that their charity does not begin at home.
Next, the South-West APC leaders landed at Buhari’s feet in Abuja! What for? To intimate him with their decisions – the ones publicly voiced and those for his ears only? Were they, in turn, intimated with the president’s brewing umbrage against the Southern governors whose ban on open grazing of cattle the South-west APC leaders had declared support for? Buhari, a day after, sternly rebuked the governors, calling their decision illegal. How did the South-west APC leaders react to that? They must not keep quiet! I plead with the South-west APC leaders to dust up their history books and learn from history. George Santayana says those who fail to learn from history are often condemned to repeating its mistakes.
Historians blame not just Adolf Hitler but also the leaders of the Allied Powers for the 2nd World War. For sure, Hitler was the war monger but the other European leaders’ timid response to his undisguised acts of aggression sent the wrong signals to the Fuhrer. Hitler (like today’s Fulani aggressors) unrepentantly pursued a policy of territorial aggrandisement and conquest while the Allied Powers (like today’s South-west APC leaders) timidly pursued a policy of appeasement. The Allied Powers and their policy of appeasement of Hitler failed miserably, leading to the 2nd World War in which 75 million people died (including 20 million military personnel and 40 million civilians). Appeasement, rather than appease, soften, satiate or satisfy Hitler, emboldened and made him hungrier for more territories. Concession after concession made Hitler stronger and more confident while it weakened and demoralised the Allied Powers.
Will the South-west APC leaders’ appeasement policy succeed with Buhari and his Fulani compatriots? Will they succeed where the Allied Powers failed? Appeasement in the international context is a diplomatic policy of making political, material or territorial concessions to an aggressive power (in our own case, the Fulani) to avoid conflict (which we have not been able to avoid, anyway). Remember that presidential adviser, Femi Adesina, once advised the Middle Belt people to relinquish their land so that the Fulani herdsmen/terrorists could spare their lives! Can we call that Adesina’s thesis of land for life? South-west APC leaders, obviously at the best, are pursuing a policy of diplomatically leading the bull out of Nigeria’s china shop so as to do damage control. But history records that appeasement as a policy of pacifying an aggrieved/aggressor through negotiations in order to pre-empt war has always been an exercise in futility. An example is Britain’s policy towards Fascist Italy (of Benito Mussolini) and Nazi Germany (of Adolf Hitler, the Fuhrer).
In Nigeria, for instance, how much land will the Middle Belt give that will appease the Fulani? How much land will the South-west cede that will satiate the Fulani’s urge to dip the Quran in the Atlantic Ocean? In the hope of avoiding war, Britain adopted the appeasement policy, allowing Hitler to expand Germany’s territory unchecked. In the final analysis, war still came. And the more it was postponed, the more costly and destructive the war became. Thus, to this day, appeasement as a policy is widely discredited in diplomatic circles as a “policy of weakness” – and not of strength. So, anyone still running with this discredited policy deludes themselves. If it failed in Europe in the 20th Century, will it work in Nigeria in the 21st?
While concession after concession weakens the so-called “peace-makers”, it strengthens the aggressor and makes the task of containing or rolling him back in future more arduous. Hitler became so emboldened and audacious (like the Fulani in today’s Nigeria) that he likened the leaders of the Allied Powers to “worms”. What demeaning words have Miyetti Allah, for instance, not hauled at South-west leaders, including governors and traditional rulers? Hitler got so encouraged after every effort to appease him that he held up the Versailles Treaty which ended the 1st World War (1914 – 1918), declared it a mere piece of paper and tore it into shreds! Pray, how has Buhari treated the Constitution on federal character in his sensitive appointments? Is it not with contempt? Has he not trampled the Constitution again and again? How has he treated his party’s position and promises on restructuring? Has it not been with disdain?
History teaches that the South-west APC leaders in their appeasement policy are on a wild goose chase. They will return empty-handed. Their communique of last Sunday did not align with the interests of the Yoruba. They failed to correctly gauge the pulse of Yoruba public opinion. Either the barometer they employed malfunctioned miserably or they deliberately chose to misapply themselves to the task at hand. As a result, they were unable to adequately articulate, project, and defend the Yoruba and their interests.
With what is happening all over the country, it is quite unfortunate that the Southwest APC leaders still chose to talk of ‘tension’ between ‘herders and farmers’ when it is very glaring and indisputable that what we have is brazen ethnic cleansing and land grabbing by the Fulani. Rather than speak loud and clear on this vexed issue, the Southwest APC leaders spoke from both sides of the mouth approbating and reprobating at the same time. It is most unfair to place both the victim and the aggressor on even keel. While expressing ‘strong opposition’ to what they called ‘separatist agitations and hate speeches’, they conveniently ignored its root cause, which is the nepotism and marginalization of sections of the country that Buhari has elevated into high art. A new COAS named by Buhari still follows the same trend. Rather than soften, Buhari’s proverbial coconut leaf hardens even still!
While the South-west APC leaders noted ‘with significant concern the security situation in the country’, they glossed over the fact that their party and its government have performed abysmally, failing to end insurgency within 100 days as they promised while campaigning for office in 2015. Not only that, the security situation has worsened under them, such that unto Boko Haram has now been added Fulani herdsmen, foreign terrorists, and sundry bandits. Today, no part of the country is safe. The way and manner security issues have been handled is abject. That virtually all the country’s security chiefs hail from the same section of the country does not inspire confidence in Buhari’s security architecture. Thus, a security challenge that was localized and restricted to the North-east of the country in 2015 when Buhari/APC took over power has escalated and now engulfs every nook and cranny of the country. The South-west APC leaders ought to frontally address this. “E yee fi oro s’abe ahon so!” Not only must you “Jeun s’oke”; we also demand that you “S’oro s’oke!
The South-west APC leaders’ charge to the Federal Government to assist victims of “terrorism or widespread banditry” rings hollow when the same South-west APC leaders have done nothing to help such victims in the South-west but have gone outside the zone, again and again, to distribute essential commodities and donate huge sums of money. Let your charity begin at home! You said you support the Asaba declaration by the Southern governors and that you now also want ‘true federalism’ but frown against a critical element of true federalism, which is the right to self-determination by the component parts or federating units. You want rain without thunderstorms! You want omelette without the breaking of eggs! You spoke of the country’s ‘economic development’ without mentioning that a once vibrant economy has been managed sleight of hand and run aground under your party’s watch.
The South-west APC leaders said they now support state police but some of them, in cahoots with Abuja cabals, were at the forefront of efforts to scuttle Amotekun, the South-west security outfit. But for the strident resistance of Yoruba patriots worldwide, Amotekun would have suffered still-birth. Giving excuses that do not hold water, Lagos, which hosted the South-west APC leaders, is yet to launch its own Amotekun. We are no longer deceived and neither can we be led by the nose anymore! No! Not by people who cannot be held down to their words. Did they not promise restructuring, which was top of the agenda on their campaign manifesto in 2015? And did they not renege? Did they not return to their vomit again when the 2019 election was nigh? Did they not renege again?
But irrespective of the South-west APC leaders and other Yoruba leaders of their ilk, Yoruba self-determination is an idea whose time has come. It has taken on a life and momentum of its own. Like Victor Hugo said: Nothing else in the world…not all the armies … is so powerful as an idea whose time has come” Fidel Castro made this very profound statement before the judge that tried him and his other comrades: The fact is, when men carry the same ideals in their heart, nothing can isolate them – neither prison walls nor the sod of cemeteries. For a single memory, a single idea, a single conscience, a single dignity sustain them all!” Too many people already carry the same ideals of Yoruba self-determination in their heart – too many! Witness the last Yoruba self-determination rally in Ondo state! It can only get better!
The Yoruba had NEVER been agitators for the dissolution of Nigeria; being so committed to Nigeria and having made sacrifices than anyone else to keep it together. So, blame those who brought this upon Nigeria – not the Yoruba. Swim against this tide if you like! Stand in front of this moving train if you so desire! You cannot stop it! No one can! So, stop squandering borrowed time and make hay while it still shines!