Mattawalle: Not just a showdown but baying for blood


Mohammed Matawalle, the Zamfara governor. Again, this is typical. Here is a man whose domain is not only besieged but seems set to be overrun by the bandits but is nonetheless convinced that the source of his headache lies, Sanya Oni writes.

Sadly, if one had thought that the nation had reached that point where voices of moderation would drown the babel calling not just for a showdown but baying for blood, recent events would seem to have reduced such to mere illusions. In other words, if we thought that we had had enough of the conflict entrepreneurs stoking the fires across the board; it is only because we are yet to reckon with their co-travellers on the other side of the opportunistic train: the ethnic champions with their galling exceptionalism, and whose sense of justice is as warped as their psychology of entitlement is egregious.

These are interesting times no doubt. The other day it was Bala Mohammed, the Bauchi governor with a rather strange doctrine of extra-territoriality as touching the Fulani nationality. The Fulani, he said, could not be restricted to any part of the sub region. They are, according to him, citizens of the world and so are free to move to anywhere of their choosing in the promotion of their trade of pastoralism. Then, he did say also that simply because the Fulani “has been exposed to cattle rustlers who carry a gun, kill him and take away his cows, he has no option to carry AK 47 because the government and the society are not protecting him”.

By the way, that is supposed to preclude the other victims – the farmers who in recent time, have had to bear the brunt of the intransigence of the pastoralist Fulanis.

And talking of the ownership of the forest ranges, he would aver, in reaction to the eviction notice served on illegal occupants of the state’s forest reserves by Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, the Ondo State governor based on security reports on the untoward activities of some criminal herders residing there that:  “Nobody owns any forests in Nigeria, it’s owned by Nigeria. Under section 23, 24 and 25 of the constitution, every Nigerian is free to stay anywhere”.

Those provisions, at least in the opinion of the governor, would suffice to extinguish the rights of other Nigerians to acquire property – and that to a brother governor, a learned Silk! A case of the rights of those herders to reside albeit illegally in the state reserves being superior to the rights of others including to the security of the generality of the people of the state!

That was Bala Mohammed, some months past.

Now, a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Abdulrahamah Dambazau (rtd), has since picked up from there. Addressing participants of Course 5 of the War College last week, the former army top brass puts the activity of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) on the same pedestal as the Boko Haram’s bloody campaign in the northeast!

Take note of his clever (opportunistic) choice of words: “The two groups have been making efforts to ignite nationwide inter-ethnic conflicts through their violent attacks on northerners resident or transacting businesses in the south as a quick way to realise their dream for a divided Nigeria”.

“We” – I guess he could not have meant any other group other than his beloved North – “see parallels between Boko Haram, a religious extreme (sic) group, and the IPOB and OPC, both ethnic extremist groups. All the three groups operate on the platform of extremism.”

The army chief is no doubt entitled to his views. Not so however, his deliberate mischaracterisation of the different groups. That is not only opportunistic but is patently disingenuous. The truth of course is that the three groups are different in their stated missions and objectives as indeed their modus operandi. If there is anything that unites them, it would seem in their common rejection of the way the country is currently constituted.

Interestingly, he has not a word for the other source of terror – the activities of the criminal herders known to give vent to the simmering tensions between tribes and regions – and of which the entire world – save the leadership of the north – has long acknowledged as posing the most existential threat to all!

That takes us to the latest offering by Bello Mohammed Matawalle, the Zamfara governor. Again, this is typical. Here is a man whose domain is not only besieged but seems set to be overrun by the bandits but is nonetheless convinced that the source of his headache lies elsewhere.

Imagine such an individual thrusting himself forward as the champion of the northern interest! These are strange times indeed.

To Matawalle, the time for fine preachments is long past; the north, his beloved region, is not only aggrieved, but is prepared to reply in kind to provocations from any quarters, especially those he claimed has made his people ‘target sport’.  Northerners, he claims are facing unsearchable conditions in many parts of the Southwest and Southeast in particular. He was particularly miffed by the clashes in Sasha Market, Ibadan, Oyo State and the reported killings of northerners in Imo State.

“We have seen the destruction, the killings and the devastation recently at Sasha Market against northerners and their economic interests.

“Properties worth billions of Naira were lost in addition to human lives, yet some leaders in the Southwest are downplaying the atrocities committed or, worst (sic) still, justifying it”, he claimed.

He wondered why northern leaders and elites have remained silent while they are supposed to stand firm, in the manner in which other leaders of the south are doing “even when they know that their people are at fault”.

On the alleged killing of northerners in Imo State last Saturday, he called on all leaders with conscience and fear of God to speak out “against this continued barbarism and hatred.”

“We will not take that any longer as no human life is worthier than another,”

He then followed with a dire warning – no community or region has the monopoly of violence.

Said he: “If northerners and their means of livelihood will not be protected, accommodated and be dignified anywhere they choose to stay in any part of the south, southerners should not expect protection from the north as the north has more than what it takes to respond to any kind of aggression and hatred.”

We must of course be clear about the general meltdown in the security situation in the country. Whether it is in Ibarapa area in Oyo State where non-state actors are having a free reign in the clear vacuum created by the absentee national government that insists on holding on to the security apparatus even when things are falling apart, or in Imo as elsewhere where criminal elements continue to unleash mayhem for the same reasons; these are unfortunate as they are condemnable.

But then, the tragedy must be seen in the low grade leadership foisted on the country at all levels. One refers here to a leadership class which sees problems through the blinkers of ethnicity and religion and has no shame about pushing noxious notions of unequal citizenship. And yet would say in another breadth that Nigeria belongs to all!

This piece is written by Sanya Oni of The Nation Newspapers, with a title 'Mattawalle: Now, the 'North' are angry!' 

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post