Bashir Ottoman Tofa
Bashir Tofa

Adebayo Obajemu

Many Nigerians have reacted angrily to a comment credited to a former presidential candidate on the platform of the defunct National Republican Convention, NRC, Alhaji Bashir Tofa to the effect that the ongoing eviction of Fulani herdsmen from Southern part of the country may lead to reprisal attacks and eviction of Southerners from the North.

In an interview with Business Halmark, professor Adeola Adebisi an expert on ethnic relations said the comment was unfortunate given Tofa’s standing as elder statesman ‘ one who aspired at one time in our history to lead the nation spurting out such divisive, unguarded comment was not helpful.

“Why did Tofa chose to make isolated comment detached from the context and reality of herdsmen’s criminality. Did any southerners attack or ask for the eviction of Hausa people? No, because they are peace-loving people,” he wondered.

In his own reaction, eminent political scientist, professor Hassan Saliu, former Dean, Social Science and Management Sciences, University of Ilorin says what Tofa said should not have come out of any Nigerian that lays claim to statesmanship.

“It is like he was inciting ethnic tensions instead of making efforts like most Nigerians to douse the rising tensions. We all know the security challenges we are facing- kidnapping for ransom, banditry and wanton killings on a daily basis. He did not talk about these challenges, rather unfortunate. ”

Dr Olufemi Omoyele, public affairs analyst and senior lecturer at Department of Business Administration, Redeemers University says ” Tofa should have emulated Governor Abdullahi Ganduje who looked at the issue of Fulani herdsmen with dispassionate mind and advised that herdsmen should stop moving cattle from the North to the South to avoid incessant crises. Tofa’s comments not helpful. ”

Many Nigerians on social media have also condemned Tofa’s comments.
The Afennifere, Yoruba sociocultural group through its spokesperson, Yinka Odumakin condemned Tofa and the Northern Elders response as irresponsible and capable of breaking the country.

The Middle Belt Forum, PANDEC and Ohaeneze have all condemned Tofa’s outbursts as unfortunate and capable of plunging the country into further crises.

Recall that Tuesday Tofa had appealed to president Buhari to act on the ongoing eviction of Fulani herdsmen before it degenerates further.

Tofa called for immediate action on the part of Buhari as a matter of urgency and without any more delay to wade into eviction order notice served on herdsmen to vacate the southern part of the country before it degenerates.

According to him if the situation was not checked it would lead to reprisal attack in the north if an urgent action or step is not taken to deal with the situation.

Tofa stated this in a statement made available to newsmen in Kano on Tuesday.

He said, “The mayhem we see, almost every day now, of killings and maiming of people of Northern extraction, including especially, the Fulani, in some other parts of the country, is totally unacceptable. There is clearly a nefarious plan by the enemies of this potentially great country to initiate a violent crisis that may lead to its destruction.

“Tension is beginning to brew, and if revenge attacks on Southerners begin here in the North, it will be difficult to control.

“Our enemies from within and outside, some well known by our Security Agencies, are more determined than ever to set us against each other, so that we may get to a point of no return when the conflagration begun.

‘There is no part of this country that is at peace. Local and neighbouring, including foreign terrorist, are busy, fully armed, to cause whatever damage they can inflict on our dear country.

“I, therefore, call on the President to take this insecurity and the tribal lynching happening very seriously and put up urgent measures to deal with them without any more delays.

“I am sure, there is concern at the Presidency and discussions are being held. But, urgent and decisive action is now necessary.”