Clement Adeyi, Osogbo
Responding to a rise in insecurity across the country ranging from Fulani herdsmen killings to hostage-taking and banditry, the Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi, has written an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari and warned against an impending war.
The traditional ruler said that the country risked war if nothing was urgently done to proffer solutions to the insecurity challenges.
He called on the President to caution opinion leaders against comments capable of inciting further violence.
The Oluwo also urged accelerated hearing of abduction cases with death penalty as punishment for the culprits.
“Let two, three to four culpable kidnappers taste death. Then, we will breathe air of peace,” he said.
The Oluwo expressed worry that a lot of Fulani teens, rather than enrolling in formal education, are engaged in cattle rearing, a situation that risks setting their generation backwards in terms of national leadership.
He called on the president to assent to a legislation to sanction parents who deny their children the right to a formal education.
“I want to appeal to your excellency to assent a legislation that will compel education for children and enact strict punishment for parents refusing to educate their children. Priority can be placed on the Fulanis with preferential monitoring of nomadic settlements.”
The ethnarch said that as a part of his contributions to finding solutions to Nigeria’s security crisis, he had suggested both long and short term policies for wide consideration.
He said that one of the suggestions had been adopted by some state Houses of Assembly.
The letter read in part:
“I’m compelled to write at this fragile moment because our togetherness is under threat. I rarely write, not because of what or how but as a proactive father, I love actions. But for the purpose of Nigerians, my race and my promising subjects, I chose to communicate this solution based epistle for two things – to avert journey of no return (war) and kill negative ambitions with alternative means.”
He noted that many stakeholders’ meetings which he had been a part of had been held on the way out of the problem which had significantly spread to the South West Region.
“The recent security threat emanating from incessant kidnapping by bad elements or alleged Fulani herdsmen most especially in the south western Nigeria is not without general knowledge. Many brainstorming sessions have been conducted by stakeholders. Just three days ago, I was with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at Osun State Government House, Osogbo, Osun State addressing the same burning issue,” he stressed.
“I met Nigeria as Nigeria. There were hurdles but our fathers managed themselves despite diverse ethnic backgrounds. As a pragmatic leader, I’m hopeful you are on the toe to run peacefully,” the letter said.
While guiding against violence, he added:
“Peace cannot be achieved through violence; it can only be attained through understanding, quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson. Education is a tool to peace, though does not guarantee peace. Understanding is the primary key to peace. Had Yugoslavia, Liberia, Sierra Leone known this, maybe, they would have avoided blood bath. I was caught up in the Liberia war and even fought along Charles Taylor as a Rebel on the NPFL. The havoc wrecked all. War knows no status, age, influence, identity. Mano and Gio tirelessly committed atrocities against the Kru tribe, the whole nation was torn a day to Christmas celebration (December 24th, 1989) led by National Patriotic Front of Nigeria under the watch of Charles Taylor. It consumed over 250,000 souls including leaders despite plea for dare lives. Majority paid the debt they didn’t owe. ” War is an enemy of identity. War turns the rich to beggars and something to nothing. I’ve seen many survivors of war including Professors, Doctors, Ministers, and even kings lining up with plates begging for food. Human eating human during war. Nothing except your cloth is yours in a war zone, provided not naked at the point of attack. Is this what some are drumming? Who will pray to line up begging for food? Do this people know about war in 21st century?
“As a responsible father, I will never go with bloodshed. No father will pray to lose his children. No father will want to be childless and turn barren at menopause. No one will prefer turning a beggar in the land of hope. There is an understandable way of killing a rat without shedding blood. We shouldn’t forget in haste that events have overtaken voodoos and traditional war instruments. A fighter jet can destroy thousands in a jiffy.
“Mr President, I say no to war. War is older than us all. “Òkun ki o ruru, kawa ruru” meaning you don’t fuel a burning fire”. Mr. President, I want to urge you, call every opinion leaders to order to stage a caution of their utterances at this moment.
“In my own assessment your excellency, the solutions to the trauma are two – Short term and long term. My domain is the highest host of the Fulanis in Osun State. Before the escalation of the kidnapping menace, I had visited the Fulanis in my domain mandating formal education and threatened to arrest parents of teens’ children rearing cattle during school hours. They obliged although not completely. Recently, Seriki Fulani brought one of their children who graduated from university to my palace. Understanding is key while education is the door to peace.
“I want to appeal to your excellency to assent a legislation that will compel education for children and enact strict punishment for parents refusing to educate their children. Priority can be placed on the Fulanis with preferential monitoring of nomadic settlements. This option will secure their future to become engineers, pilots, doctors, professors, kings, bankers, ambassadors etc and not kidnappers.
“Additionally, growth is gradual. Our security should go digital. If not now, who else is our Messiah? Nigeria security should be strengthened. The boost can optionally be assured through mandatory and timely provision of electronic national identity card for everyone on Nigeria soil such that the security force can accost and demand for identification anywhere anytime. With digital ID card, the security can track suspicious members of the society.
“Your excellency, as a short term mechanism, kidnapping cases should be given accelerated hearing with death as penalty for culpable kidnappers.
“The famous Ralph Waldo Emerson was remembered quoting that “there are five enemies to peace: ambition, avarice, anger, pride and envy.” Enacting such severe law will dissociate perpetrators from the five enemies of peace. We can’t continue cold handling and expect cold retort. Kidnappers are killers. If caught, they should have a taste of their intention.
“Your excellency, I want to appeal for quick response to enact a law in collaboration with the national assembly for quick trial and execution of culpable kidnappers.
“Peace is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous,” he quoted George Bernard Shaw as saying.
“Additionally, there should a special federal government sponsored enlightenment program for herdsmen to halt farm attacks. I have done it in the past. I tutored Fulanis in my area on ranch and provision of hay. You walk your cattle miles to feed them. Acquired nutrients almost used while covering miles walking them back home. Even in the course of covering miles of journey in the bush, there are many dangers. The federal government should legislate advanced training on cattle raising as obtainable in developed nations. Construct ranch in your personal land, and feed them with hay. Hay is the best food for the cattle. There is little nutrient in silage. Formal learning should be made compulsory for herdsmen while government can as well sponsor them overseas for training on ranching.
“On a final note, let me state unequivocally that Nigeria is indivisible. The only voodoo to war is peace not traditional concoctions in digital age. We are on the path of greatness. We must not for once be drunk with deception of war. Mr. President, my words are given for your attention. Nigeria is yours and mine. While I pray for wisdom greater than that of Solomon to constructively pilot Nigeria, do accept the assurances of traditional rulers’ support at effecting solutions mentioned and conduct Nigeria’s affairs.”