In this interview with MUDIAGA AFFE, Convener of the Yoruba Koya Leadership Foundation, Chief Deji Osinbogun, blames the Federal Government for failing to clamp down on members of the Coalition of Northern Groups that have persistently issued threats capable of disaffection and disunity among ethnic groups in Nigeria
What is your reaction to the Coalition of Northern Group’s 30-day ultimatum given to President Muhammadu Buhari to implement the Ruga settlement policy?
This is not the first or second time that we have had groups giving ultimatum from the North and there is no clampdown from the law enforcement agencies. The threat is coming from the President’s over-pampered kinsmen, which he has ignored over time.
This shows that they are sectional in whatever they are doing. You will recall that when we went for our ‘Otoge’ rally to protest against the killings in the South-West, most of our people were rounded up by the police and detained for some days. But we have heard nothing about anybody being arrested over the speech or threat made by these young people from the North. I think it is over-indulgence from these young northerners by a father who has children that he is unable to restrain from misbehaving.
Do you think the group should be taken seriously?
The ultimatum should not be taken for granted. Even at the expiration of the ultimatum, violence may break out in any part of the country. The Inspector-General of Police has not taken any step; the Department of State Services has also ignored the young men and the Presidency has done nothing. The issue is neither being discussed nor addressed at the National Assembly. These threats have not stopped because the Federal Government has refused to act decisively.
This is the way Boko Haram went out of hand. It is also the way the Fulani herdsmen have gone out of hand as well as the Miyetti Allah. These young men are also being encouraged to go out of hand.
I know that so many things that can happen. In a situation where you neglect a sore, it becomes a cancer. And when it is cancerous, you either remove the affected part of the body or find other ways. I will say that the sore that President Buhari is ignoring is becoming a cancer and it can kill Nigeria.
The group is of the view that President Buhari must have compromised for suspending the scheme. Do you share their view?
President Buhari has compromised on many things. If the group is accusing him of compromising on the implementation of the Ruga policy, then it has reasons for saying that. As far as we are concerned, he (Buhari) has compromised on Fulani herdsmen, Miyetti Allah and these young people from the North. That they are accusing him of not supporting them is not strange to us; it is a case of a father and his spoilt child accusing each other. If the child goes to steal and he is caught by the police, you blame the father who refused to use the cane on him when he was supposed to use it. Unfortunately, they would use it on members of the Oodua Peoples’ Congress. They have used the cane on members of the Independent People of Biafra. But that is not the way to go; otherwise they are just going to break up this country. And they will be the worse for it. We are not fighting anybody; we just want a better country where everybody will be equal.
It is obvious now that one tribe or region is being treated as bigger than the other. That is why some people of one tribe or region can issue a threat and nothing happens. And if anyone from another region issues a similar threat, they will be arrested and put in detention. This is injustice.
In reality, are the Fulani people being maltreated in the South as claimed by the group?
There is no smoke without fire. Even though those attacking people in the South are masquerading as Fulani, their mode of operation is different from the Fulani that we used to know. Those attacking and killing now do not only slit throats, they dismember their victims’ body. The gory pictures we see these days make one wonder if they are the same Fulani that we have lived with over the years.
The President himself has said that the killings are not from Nigeria; that they are Fulani from other West African countries who want to find home here. What I see is that the ragamuffin scheme that is being brandished is just going to encourage more people from other countries to settle among us, particularly in the South-West.
Why do you think the herders-farmers clashes have persisted?
It is because the government is not interested in solving the problem. They are only interested in sharing money. This whole thing is being encouraged by the Federal Government and it has to stop. If it does not, it can consume the nation.