•Plan to revive Radio Kudirat, Biafra
Last week, the President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government announced that it has acquired an Amplitude Modulation radio broadcast licence for the purpose of opening a radio frequency to reach Fulani herdsmen across various locations in the country as part of measures to enhance nomadic education.
Education Minister, Adamu Adamu who disclosed this in Abuja during an interview with newsmen, noted that the establishment of the radio frequency – which will broadcast in Fufulde, the Fulani language and operate on frequency of 720KHz – is to end the persistent ‘farmers versus herders’ crises across the country.
“The radio service will serve as a vehicle for social mobilisation and education, in addition to interactive radio instruction methodology that will be adopted to reach the very hard-to-reach segment of our target population,” he said. “Additionally, it will enhance our capacity to address crisis between herders and farmers with attendant consequences to loss of lives, destruction of productive assets, nomadic schools, facilities teaching and learning resources.”
The announcement immediately triggered angry backlash from Nigerians, mostly of Southern and Middle Belt origins. Many could not understand the role of radio in fighting what for them is mere act of terror. The announcement had come soon after news emerged that the Buhari government had ordered every gun owner, including licensed ones, to surrender them from June.
Many believe the government had made little attempt to disarm the herdsmen who are unleashing bloodshed across the country, sacking and displacing communities, especially in the Middle Belt. Instead, it has tried to rationalise their activities by insisting that their 1960 cattle routes had been blocked, and therefore, what does anyone want them to do?
The announcement of the new radio for some only mean one thing: the government was trying to coordinate the activities of the herdsmen for final take-over of Nigeria, especially in view of the call for arms surrender. Such is an angle being pushed across social media. They promoters of the narrative say it is another instance of Buhari displaying the characteristic ethnic bias that for them, has defined his administration since inception.
From populating nearly all key security institutions and revenue generating agencies with the Muslim North, to pampering corrupt members of his cabinet while harassing opposition, sometimes on thumped up charges. And especially for playing the ostrich over the activities of herdsmen, the Buhari brand has lost its once celebrated body language and importantly, the trust of many Nigerians. And what is worse, poverty has is rising, insecurity is reaching catastrophic proportions, while the economy is limping. The government appears out of depth.
But it is how it has handled the growing insecurity that has created mistrust and is threatening the country’s very existence. The biggest tragedy that has befallen the Buhari government, it would seem, is its poor management of the country’s diversity. Nothing it does now can be taken on face value. Increasingly, more Nigerians are buying the idea that perhaps, as is being alleged by some, the government is pursuing an agenda of Islamisation… and enthronement of ethnic hegemony.
When Lawal Daura, former Director General of the DSS was sacked for invading the NASS and the mantle fell on Bayelsa born Matthew Seiyefa who became the only Southerner heading any critical security outfit. But soon Buhari removed him and replaced him with another Northerner, Yusuf Magaji Bichi, prompting an uproar. Before then, he had replaced Mr. Ayo Oke, former Director of National Intelligence Agency (NIA) accused of corruption with yet another Northerner, Mr. Ahmed Abubakar.
This meant that the Army, the Police, Civil Defence Corps, Immigration and Customs- all the arms bearing agencies of government are headed by one section of the country. It is, for many, a premeditated attempt to dominate Nigeria. Ironically, the same section occupying most security posts has had more security challenges than any other part of the country.
Indeed, Buhari’s action in this regard has mostly only succeeded in raising suspicion and escalating ethnic tension. The appointments have mostly ensured, perhaps that certain people “got away with anything” as Sokoto Catholic Bishop, Matthew Hassan Kukah once put it, while “others can’t get away with anything”
But the lesson of life is that condoning impunity only emboldens the perpetrators and encourages others to join. And the society is worse for it. This has been the case.
The idea of a radio station for the herders for many is another attempt to reward crime. At the extreme, others have alleged a sinister agenda to physically take over Nigeria. Meanwhile the government said it intended same to educate the herdsmen and checkmate clashes between them and farmers. Also this comes after the government was alleged to have promised to fund the Miyetti Allah with N100 billion to fight bandry.
In a statement last week, Oduduwa People’s Congress (OPC) said the move was questionable and not acceptable. The statement issued by its publicity secretary, Barrister Yinka Oguntimehin, said the government was not sincere about the motive of the radio.
“We need to be wary of the actions coming from the federal government these days, especially, on the issuance of a licence to the Fulani for the establishment of a Fulani radio station,” OPC said.
“We are not against the move. However, it must be stated also that the federal government must give other tribes and regions the same opportunity. The Yoruba must have their radio stations, as well as other tribes. Nigeria is a secular state with different religions and tribes, so whatever the government is doing should reflect the secularity of the Nigerian nation.”
A member of the group told Business Hallmark on Friday that reintroducing Radio Kudirat will be considered should the president go ahead with the plan.
Similarly, the Ethnic Nationalities Defence Organisation (ENDO), last week in a statement by its president, David Maiyami, director of information and strategy, Freedom Musa and director of operations, Nehemiah Maihaikali, called on all minority ethnic nationalities in the country to immediately set up self-defence militia to defend their lands and territories against Boko Haram terrorists and killer herdsmen.
Meanwhile, the IPOB, which already has Radio Biafra running, in statement to BusinessHallmark on Saturday alleged that the move to float the Fulani radio was a continuation of the “Islamic” agenda which its leader, Nnamdi Kanu warned against in 2014. The group, however, said it is not bothered by it as it already knew what was coming.
“Federal Government of Nigeria headed and dominated by Fulani terrorist organization popularly known as Miyetti Allah can go ahead and float radio in different language to disseminate false information against other Nigerians the way they like. Nigeria can never be the same again,” the statement by IPOB’s publicity secretary, Emma Powerful said.
“In 2014, our courageous leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, talked about the impending Islamisation of Nigeria if Buhari is allowed to come to power. But many Nigerians called him names.
“He made speeches on Radio Biafra London. This proposed radio is the latest fulfillment of his prophesy, like the one about Fulani herdsmen being armed and encouraged to slaughter us with impunity and their masters protecting protect them is already being fulfilled.”
Powerful quoted Kanu to have said on February 6th 2014 that, “They are coming to ensure that people are enslaved forever, those who don’t believe me will soon see it happen before their eyes. They are coming to elevate Hausa-Fulani supremacy, to reposition the security agencies by sacking all competent hands and replace them with their Fulani brothers to drive their ethnic domination of Biafrans and other tribes in Nigeria.”
The country’s fault lines are widening. Last week, former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, one of Nigeria’s staunchest nationalists alleged that the herdsmen and Boko Haram terrorists unleashing mayhem mostly in the country’s North East were part of an attempt to ‘Fulanize’ and ‘Islamize’ Africa.
“It is no longer an issue of lack of education and lack of employment for our youths in Nigeria which it began as; it is now West African Fulanization, African Islamization and global organized crimes of human trafficking, money laundering, drug trafficking, gun trafficking, illegal mining and regime change,” the former president said while delivering a paper at the second session of the seventh Synod of the Anglican Communion, Oleh Diocese, in the Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State.
Obasanjo became the latest former general to allege the herdsmen of ulterior motive. Former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. T.Y. Danjuma had while delivering a speech at the maiden convocation ceremony of Taraba State University in March last year, accused the herdsmen of perpetrating ethnic cleansing, and worse still, said the security agencies were colliding with them.
“There is an attempt at ethnic cleansing in the state and of course, in some riverine and rural states in Nigeria. We must resist it. We must stop it. Every one of us must rise up,” Danjuma had said.
“Our Armed Forces are not neutral. They collude with the armed bandits to kill people, kill Nigerians. The Armed Forces guide their movements. They cover them. If you are depending on the Armed Forces to stop the killings, you will all die one by one.”
Danjuma’s allegation at the time rattled the government, prompting severe rebuke from it. But it pushed the Nigerian debate and the suspicion of an ethnic agenda to a whole new level. Obasanjo’s has further exacerbated it. It has since triggered responses and counter responses.
The ethnic and religious gaps are widening, insecurity is escalating, and poverty is growing. Nigeria is indeed in troubled waters.