Nigeria’s former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has met with leadership of Fulani herdsmen in the Southwest, Kogi and Kwara States, saying that the nation is currently in darkness due to wanton insecurity and killings.
Obasanjo, at the meeting held at with Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria (GAFDAN) at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, Ogun State on Saturday, Obasanjo decried the high rate of kidnapping and killings in the Southwest and summed it up that Nigeria is in darkness now now needed light.
The former president advice Nigerians to stop putting blames on anybody and accept individual responsibility on how to put an end to the issues at hand.
“I take it that you are sufficiently knowledgeable, sufficiently aware, sufficiently understanding to be able to interact actively and successfully at this meeting on behalf of those that are not here. None of us here will say he doesn’t know what has been happening, what has been reported and what are being reported about insecurity in our country generally.
“I believe that whatever that we are able to achieve or to discuss or to disabuse in this zone will be taken as a model in other zones. I want to learn from you and I hope you will learn from me and at the end of the day, we will all be wiser and we will be able to determine what should be way forward for us to get rid of bad things in our community.
“Let me tell you some of the reasons for our meeting. What has been happening in Nigeria, particularly in this area, the Southwest, we have got a lot of bad things happening here, let us not deceive ourselves. We have got a lot of heat, not enough light. And without adequate light, we may not be able to deal with the problem the way we want to and find solution to it. We have got enough heat but we now need light to guide us so that we are all out there.
“Secondly, we are all in darkness, all of us. We need to be in the light. And those who may want to choose to be in darkness and want to deceive themselves, we can leave them in darkness but majority of us have to be in the light and let the light shine upon us so that we can see our faces, we can see ourselves as we are, where we are naked, let us see ourselves as naked, where we are half covered, let us see ourselves as half covered, where we are fully clothed, let us see ourselves as fully clothed,” he explained.
According to Obasanjo, “We are also going about among ourselves with history, some of the histories that we are going about among ourselves are the histories we need not perpetrate. We are going about with myths, we are not going about with reality. We are going about with lack of clarity so what we want to do is to push aside myth and talk about reality, we want you to talk about clarity. We want to see things clearly the way they are.”
The former president stated emphatically that there is criminality and insecurity in the land and that it had not been like that before, saying that “if this is what we have, what we want to do at this meeting is find solutions to stop it. We want to interrogate and be inquisitive among ourselves about things around us but particularly about unusual things around us. We are not inquisitorial, we are not prosecutorial but we want to interrogate ourselves; why is it, how is it, where is it and then we find solutions to it.”
He said the nation wanted to have peace, security, harmony, wholesomeness and progress, stressing that “We want to move Nigeria forward, irrespective of tribe, religion, ethnicity, trade, profession, where I come from, where you come from. How can we together move Nigeria forward? And there is nobody else who will do all these for us, it is you, we, all of us here and all our brothers and sisters wherever they may be in Nigeria.
“It is not one man’s job or one person’s job or one group’s job, it a job for all of us, all Nigerians and unless and until we see it that way, we should stop passing blame, everybody is wrong and everybody is right. Let us take what is right in one group and join it what is right in other group and throw away what is wrong in all the groups then we will move forward.”
Obasanjo said the people in West Africa were worried about the situation in Nigeria and were wondering if Nigeria could not manage her security, how could they look up to Nigeria whom they normally see as big brother, that they could call upon to help them when in trouble.
“We are Nigerians, we can deal and we will deal with our security problem and any other problem that we need to deal with,” he said.
Obasanjo, while recalling his experience with other tribes while growing up, said he grew up among different tribes whom his late mother believed were the best people to sell her market to than the Yoruba tribe and that there was peace then because there was no discrimination of tribes then, unlike what was happening in the country right now.
“I was born in a village and grew up among all tribes that were in that area: Igbira, Egun, Igbo, Igala, we don’t even called them Hausas or Fulanis, we called them Mallams because that is what we knew them as. We knew them as Mallams and we grew up friendly. Peace was reigning but what has now changed?
“From my own knowledge, when i joined the army, I came back from training in 1959 to Kaduna, my interaction with the North and particularly with Hausa/Fulani is a different experience from the one that I hear and see today. Normally, you know it when a stranger come into a community, the head of that community must know and it is the responsibility of the head of that community to maintain peace and security; so what is the problem with our community leaders, the chiefs while things are going wrong in your community?
“Is it that you do not have knowledge? Is it that you do not know what is happening, what exactly is the problem? Because this is what I know, this is what used to happen and part of what we have to do is what is wrong that we have to put right.
“We must be able to have what I will call take away from meeting. We will have positive measures that are measurable which we will put timeline to and which will be actionable by individuals and groups and which we can follow and see what progress we are making and maybe before long, we can then have what I will call progress meeting to discuss what we have achieved, what is left to be achieved, where do we move to next? But we must have take away things that will work for us individually and collectively,” Obasanjo said.
The National Chairman of GAFDAN, Alhaji Sale Bayari, prayed for the former president and referred to him as the pillar of the country and that they believed he is the best person who could help solve the puzzle of unnecessary killing and kidnapping in the country with his advice “if only our leaders can listen to what he says.”
Many of the members from different state who had accompany the chairman to meet Obasanjo blamed the insecurity on the traditional leaders because they did not consult or see them as part of the members of their community, saying that they just accommodated other people claiming to be Fulani from other countries, like Togo,Senegal and others and that when strange things happened they would say it’s the Fulani.