By Bola Bolawole
The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, which occurred on 28 June, 1914 in the little-known village of Sarajevo (located in today’s Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, formerly a part of the Republic of Yugoslavia), not only signalled the beginning of the First World War (1914 – 1918), it also catapulted Sarajevo to the world stage. Prior to that date, many disputes had taken place that could have led to war but which did not; an otherwise innocuous event was what ignited the first global war in which millions of lives perished. Fast forward to the Second World War (1939 – 1945): In pursuit of his territorial aggrandisement, Germany’s Adolf Hitler had gobbled up territory after territory, encouraged and strengthened by the appeasement policy of the rest of Europe which he read, rightly or wrongly, as weakness. To avoid war, European leaders (like today’s southern Nigeria leaders) let Hitler have his way, thinking one compromise after the next would be the last. However, when Hitler thought the rest of Europe would not act; when he invaded Poland, thinking it of little or no value for Europe to make a whimper, was when Europe said “no more” The rest, as they say, is history.
Napoleon Bonaparte had fought and won many battles. The self-proclaimed emperor of France also wanted to make himself the master of Europe. He almost succeeded but on Sunday, 18 June, 1815, he met his Nemesis at the Battle of Waterloo. Jean Jacques Rousseau says “the strongest is never strong enough to always be master unless he transforms strength into right and obedience into duty” Every strong man has his Achilles heel. Achilles’ mother, wanting his son to be invulnerable, dipped him into the River Styx, thus making his entire body invulnerable – except for the part of his foot where she held him! When you are secretly doing something, somebody, somewhere is secretly watching you! So, in the Trojan War, Paris’s arrow hit the vulnerable foot of Achilles, just as David’s catapult hit Goliath’s forehead.
Every strongman has his Nemesis, even as no one escapes Karma. This is the law of cause and effect. Scripture says whatsoever a man soweth, that he shall reap also. “Rain Doctor” Majek Fashek says no one plants cassava and harvests cocoyam. The Yoruba say “asegbe o si; asepamo lo wa”. Your acts will find you out, sooner or later. If falsehood travels a thousand years, truth will catch up with it in one day. Jamaican reggae icon, Peter Tosh, says you can run but cannot hide. Doomsday soon comes, willy-nilly, for the wicked. Interestingly, little-known Igangan was where the day of reckoning came last week for the Fulani herdsmen and their backers, chief of which, sadly, is the Presidency.
I have been in those parts once but that was decades ago while I was in the Sixth Form at Ilesa Grammar School. I had accompanied a friend, Femi Akinfenwa, and his family on holiday to their country home. They were from Tede and Ilero. The atrocities of Fulani herdsmen in those parts are legendary but their new-found impunity and mindless audacity since their people cornered the levers of power at the Centre have made the suffering of the Yoruba in that corner of the country intolerable. Cases after cases of the Fulani bestiality have gone unchecked and every unchecked act further emboldened the culprits. It would appear they have official approval. And that has been the case not only in the Oke-Ogun area of Oyo state but also all over the country. Each time, Presidency officials and other Fulani leaders weigh in on the side of the murderers. Each time, the victims of Fulani horrendous bestiality are left in a quandary.
Enter Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho! I doff my hat for Igboho! While some so-called war generalissimo of the Yoruba fled the battlefield, Igboho vowed and fulfilled his vow. He filled the vacuum created by the absence of government and governance. He wiped the tears of his people and took the shame away from the Yoruba, always called “cowards” by other tribes. Igboho is the proverbial “Omo Oko” (true born) and not the many “Omo Ale” (bastards) all over the place selling their birthright for a mess of pottage and using the left hand to point out their father’s house. Whatever happens, Igboho has etched his name in gold, like Adaka Boro and Ken Saro-Wiwa did for their own people. In the olden days, Igboho would have been treated as an “Orisa” or god like Sango.
I understand the Fulani in the Oke-Ogun area begged and pledged to be of good behaviour henceforth. That is not good enough! How about the precious lives they have wasted? How about the stigmatization of those they have raped, maimed, and the millions of Naira they have extorted as ransoms from the people? What of the investments and farmlands they have destroyed? They must be made to pay reparations. Then, they must be returned to their own part of the country who cannot live in peace with their host communities. If it is true that the burning of Sunday Igboho’s house in Ibadan this week is reprisal attack, then, how sincere is the apology of the Fulani? Crocodile tears! They may only be stooping to conquer! Eternal vigilance must be the watchword of the Yoruba everywhere.
Playing out in my own native Ondo state was Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu waking up from his slumber too late and doing too little even after that. Why Yoruba political leaders are so apologetic when they should stand ram-rod baffles me. They see the examples of their Fulani counterparts who mince no word when defending and or promoting Fulani interests. Yet, our own political leaders are cowardly and lily-livered when their people are assailed right, left, and centre. Who has done this to them? What are they afraid of? What do they want from the Fulani that has reduced them to jellies, errand-boys and lackeys? Why do they genuflect when they are expected to speak out boldly in defence of their own people? If I were one of those governors, I would have demanded that the Presidency sack Garba Shehu before holding any meeting with anybody – and, for that matter, not with Miyetti Allah of all people! Arrant nonsense! Ordinary “da-eran-da-eran” (mere herders) who have also become vicious “da-oran-da-oran” (criminals) now sit down to discuss and negotiate with governors after having insulted the same governors openly and declaring our land as their father’s heritage! Simply bombastic! What has come upon our governors! With all their education and exposure, why are they unable to think deeply and foresee the dire consequences of their bending to satiate Fulani herders?
Someone said vaulting ambition blindfolds our political leaders. Be that as it may, why can’t they see that all of them cannot be President or Vice-President at the same time? Ask them, how many of them have the Fulani promised? And is that what has turned their brains upside down? So the Fulani promised those before them! Olu Falae! MKO Abiola! But what became of those folks? Tinubu wants to be president. Osinbajo wants to be president. Fayemi wants to be president. Fashola wants to be president. Aregbesola wants to be president. Who again? So, presidential ambition shuts their mouth while the Fulani ride roughshod over their people? Yet, before their very eyes, the same Fulani are warming up to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan for a second term!
The last time the Yoruba got the presidency, they earned it – they were not dashed. They fought the June 12 battle to a standstill and were placated with the presidency. Not by keeping silent in the face of tyranny. Not by appeasement and not by compromise but by united action against the injustice of June 12. That is the same path the Yoruba must take now to stand any chance in 2023 – that is, if there will be any 2023!
LAST WORD: Babafemi Ojudu’s “The Sunday Igboho I know” seeks to de-market this instant and immediate hero of the Yoruba. Quite understandably, Ojudu works for a Fulani government which, before our very eyes, have rubbished Ojudu, his Ogas, and the Yoruba people again and again. What has Ojudu been able to do about it? According to Ojudu, Igboho is a thug but only a thug will be detailed to close-mark or take out another thug like Ojudu said he did to Igboho! Birds of a feather! Ask Ekiti politicians to profile Ojudu for you. Igboho is relevant to the Yoruba cause in their hour of need. But can we say same thing of Ojudu? Ojudu’s neck, which today is three times thicker than what it used to be when he was an editor at THE NEWS magazine, is the only thing I can point at as his achievement. Be it known to Ojudu, then, that the collective wisdom of the Yoruba is “Omo ina l’a n ran s’ina”; “Nitori were ita l’afi n ni were inu ile”; “Epe la fi n w’epe.”