The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has warned the federal government to take the recent statement credited to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, alleging that Boko Haram and herdsmen attacks were aimed at Fulanising Nigeria and Islamising Africa, very seriously.
Obasanjo made the statement on Saturday as guest speaker at the 2nd session of the Synod held at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Oleh in Isoko South Local Government Area, Delta State while speaking on the topic, ‘Mobilising Nigeria’s human and Natural Resources for National Development and Stability.’
Reacting to the statement on behalf of SMBLF, the National Publicity Secretary, Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said Nigeria cannot afford to take Obasanjo’s admonition with levity.
This is coming as the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and former Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido, have disagreed with the former president, even as a former Aviation Minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, has hailed Obasanjo for being the only politically active southern and Middle Belt leader that understands the dangers lying ahead in the country.
According to Odumakin, “Every line of what President Obasanjo said, we study it and we must have a response for it, otherwise we are losing the country fast, because when we get to a stage where Fulani herdsmen are being elevated to the level of Afenifere and Ohanaeze, it is said that when short men begin to cast long shadows, the sun is about to set. Let the sun not set for Nigeria.”
Odumakin emphasised that what former president Obasanjo said is something the country should take seriously because he is not a frivolous person.
He said: “They have been talking about some people trying to destabilise Nigeria; you cannot say Obasanjo wants to destabilise Nigeria; Nigeria is a pet project for him. For him to come out and make those kinds of statements; and it is not as if he does not know what he is saying.
“Don’t forget that original Boko Haram was a response to Obasanjo’s reforms in the country. What is called Sharia in many Northern states today was a reaction against Obasanjo but even in all those years, Obasanjo did not make those statements; he managed these situations in the interest of national stability.
“I don’t know whether you have seen the latest global terrorism index. After Iraq and Afghanistan, Nigeria is the third most terrorised country in the world today, and in the global terrorism index of 2015, two of the first four most violent terrorist groups are in Nigeria; Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen, which the government is now equating Fulani herdsmen with Afenifere and Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Garba Shehu is telling us we must respect Fulani herdsmen.
“About eight months ago, Wall Street Journal, said that to release the Dapchi girls, federal government paid Boko Haram three million Euros; today, Boko Haram has become deadlier.
“When the Fulani herdsmen wanted N100 billion recently, the federal government was denying, the herdsmen came out to say ‘yes, it is true,’ they are asking for the money because they have been promised the money since the previous regime.
“So, I think now with President Obasanjo raising a bar on this discuss, the federal government should talk with Nigerians; what is going on? The president cannot just be saying kidnapping has become a new business. Who are the people behind the new business? What did we do to them? What is going on? It is a new line of business, so should we live with it?”
On his part, an elder statesman and Yoruba leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said he was happy that Obasanjo has finally seen the light.
Adebanjo stressed that he is happy that Obasanjo, despite years of political differences, is finally seeing things the same way as he (Adebanjo) and Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
According to him, the only way to halt the impending doom is for the country to restructure along the way Awolowo posited before independence in 1960.
Adebanjo stated that apart from the terrorists trying to islamise the country, herdsmen have also infiltrated every part of the country and are wreaking havoc as they go along, adding that something must be done before it is too late.
He urged the leadership of the country to wake up to the reality of the situation in the country by ensuring the nation is restructured immediately.