In the last couple of weeks, there have been insinuations and conflicting signals about what the notorious Fulani herdsmen might be up to in the Southeast region of Nigeria. First, there was the leader of the so-called Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) announcing to the whole world that the Southeast region of Nigeria would soon boil and perhaps burn as well because of their stubbornness and refusal to turn over their farm lands to the invading Fulani herdsmen for the grazing of their cattle. Of course, there was the predictably immediate denial of the truth of the announcement by the already embedded members of the herdsmen in the region.
Second, it was reported on June 21, 2019, that a meeting in Enugu featuring Southeast Chambers of Commerce with the Governors Forum of Southeast Zone also featured the representatives of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association who came up with the “brilliant” idea that the youths of the Fulani herdsmen should be given a vigilante role in the Southeast zone to complement those of the local vigilantes of the different communities of the zone. Again, predictably so, the Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo scoffed at the childish suggestion. John Nnia Nwodo, the leader of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo lambasted the suggestion with vehemence saying that such a move would be resisted to the last.
Third, it was reported also in the social media on June 21 and 22, 2019, although without any authentic verification by the mainstream media, that some military-like landings were being sighted in the forest of Enugwu Ukwu in Enugu State. Pictures of military helicopters with some military combat exercises were presented as evidence of the allegation. No serious reaction has so far been given about this latest serious revelation. It appears that a great majority of the Igbo people are sleepwalking while the security of their entire zone is being imperilled every day. The reality of the moment is there are indications and insinuations everywhere suggesting that some Fulani danger men might be planning something nefarious against the Southeast region, home to ethnic Igbos who are predominantly Christians.
All these announcements, suggestions and all what not cannot be wished away completely. Rather they must be taken very seriously. Such should lead any conscious Igbo man or woman worth the sort to think critically about what could be done right now to prevent any outbreak of hostilities between the invading Fulani herdsmen and the home-dwelling Igbos of the Southeast Nigeria.
The truth of the matter is the invaders are already embedded in the Southeast region. It turns out that the long-held rumour that all the “megards”, shoe-shiners, quack tailors, jewelry and embroidery sellers who have been in Southeast and plying their trades among us for quite a long time now may in fact be Fulani invaders bidding their time and waiting for some sort of a signal from their high command somewhere in Nigeria to attack us. But if this has any possibility of being true what can the south easterners do to protect themselves?
First, I will not subscribe to the suggestion that anybody, be he or she a Nigerian or a non-Nigerian, plying his or her trade anywhere in Nigeria or elsewhere should be expelled or molested in any way. Nobody’s human rights should be infringed upon under any pretences whatsoever. That is to say, let the Fulani “traders” in our midst stay and pursue whatever they call their trades or professions unmolested. But what is needed for people’s safety and security is for the general public in the Southeast to know that these harmlessly-looking people may not be all genuine and harmless after all, that, some of them may be harbouring some terrible motives that could be detrimental to the safety and security of innocent people. So, every community should and must keep a wary eye on every one of them. Also, all those who depend on them for their personal security should have a rethink.
Second, the Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, the Ala Igbo Foundation, Southeast Governors’ Forum, IPOB, MASSOB, WORLD IGBO CONGRESS and all other sociopolitical and sociocultural organizations in Igbo land and all other Igbo-affiliated groups must come together in a big conference at the end of which they must announce to the whole world their resolve to remain a nonviolent people. They must also demand the Nigerian government to take a firm control of the invading Fulani Herdsmen in the Southeast region. The large Igbo conference must make it abundantly clear to the world and to the government of Nigeria that the Igbos do not want any war with anybody, that they must be left alone to live free in their God-given homeland. They must make a serious plea to nations who may have some sympathy for the survival of the Igbo people in Nigeria to prevail on the Nigerian government to check the activities and attacks of the Fulani herdsmen. Such nations should be able to warn the Nigerian government that any attack on the Igbos will be treated as an attack on freedom loving civilized world.
Third, the Igbos must make some contingency plans about their self-defense. It is no longer to be taken for granted that the Southeast will not be attacked. The truth is the invaders may be already in our midst. They have finished with their espionage. They are now waiting for the command to begin their attacks. Those who are asking to be given a vigilante role in our communities are already in our midst and they know the terrain and have in fact mastered the routes to our homes. So, it will be childish for any of us to think that the Fulani soldiers are still very far away from us. In fact they are already here with us.
I think what could save the Igbo communities is what saved the American communities during the American war of revolution around the middle of the 18th century. What saved them was community militia. As the British attacked with their well trained army rural America responded with their community militias. The militias contributed immensely to the defeat of the invading British soldiers. The same could apply to the Southeast.
If the nearly three to five thousand autonomous communities in the Southeast were to raise and maintain strong vigilante or militia formations there is hardly any way the Fulani herdsmen invaders will have the better of us. And this is the way the South easterners could begin to arrange for their security and defense against what is appearing very certain to happen at some point in our near future.
As the Fulani invaders appear to strengthen and consolidate their presence in the Southeast, let the Igbos think security first. The danger against their safety and existence in Nigeria is more real than ever before. Let them recollect and remind themselves of What Okoko Ndem said at the end of his newscast during the civil war: ONYE NDI IRO GBARA GBURUGBURU NA-ECHE NDU YA NCHE MGBE NIILE.