In an effort to understand and mitigate the insecurity and criminality pervading the Southwest states and the country, former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday, met Fulani leaders in the South West, Kogi and Kwara states.
The meeting, which lasted for close to three hours, was held at Obasanjo’s Penthouse, located at the premises of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital. He met his guests under the aegis of Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria (GAFDAN).
The meeting identified one of the problems of the Nigerian nation as that of cover-ups and denials by both community and public institutional leadership that ought to expose the problems and deal with them.
Before the meeting went into a closed-door session, Obasanjo told his guests that everyone concerned with the security challenges of the country was in darkness, and needed to be in the light.
“Those who may choose to be in darkness and want to deceive themselves, we can leave them in darkness but majority of us have to be in the light and let the light shine upon us so that we can see ourselves as we are. Where we are naked, let us see ourselves as naked; where we are half covered, let us see ourselves as half covered; where we are fully clothed, let us see ourselves as fully clothed,” he said.
The former President, who stressed the need for unity and harmony in the country, said everyone wanted peace, security, harmony, wholesomeness and progress.
He continued: “We want to move Nigeria forward, irrespective of tribe, religion, ethnicity, trade, profession, where I come from or where you come from. How can we together move Nigeria forward? There is nobody else who will do these for us; it is you, we, all of us here and all our brothers and sisters wherever they may be in Nigeria.
“It (moving Nigeria forward) is not one man’s job or one person’s job or one group’s job, it is a job for all of us, all Nigerians. And unless and until we see it that way, we should stop passing blame, everybody is wrong and everybody is right. Let us take what is right in one group and join it with what is right in the other group and throw away what is wrong in all the groups. Then, we will move forward.”
Obasanjo insisted that Nigeria could not afford to be complacent because the entire West Africa was looking up to.
He added that our brothers and sisters in West Africa were worried about the country’s situation and wondering if Nigeria could not manage her security.
The National Chairman of the group, Alhaji Sale Bayari, commended Obasanjo for his “patriotism and leadership qualities,” saying that Nigeria would be far better if it has quality leaders like him.
Bayari said: “If we had another leader like you in the North, the Southeast and in the South-south, maybe we wouldn’t be in this mess because what has brought us to this state is that when problems start, leaders remain indifferent until the problems get to the level where people will say there is no alternative other than self-help.
“Before it gets to the level of self-help, a lot of physical, psychological and even spiritual damages would have been done. Fanatics would have gone into the highest level of fanaticism. Those who want to go into the military aspect of life would have fully militarised. Anarchists, who want to cause breakdown of law and order, would have become permanent anarchists. And solutions as at that time would become very difficult.”
Bayari said the group had written series of complaints to the Directorate of Security Service (DSS) and the security chiefs but got no response. This situation, he said, made members of the group began to think that the security chiefs are, perhaps, more interested in crisis than in peace.
Rising from the meeting, parties resolved that there must be deliberate effort in addressing identified security problems within communities.
The resolution read in part: “Joint community responsibility must be established among the Yoruba and Fulani leaders at community levels. From evidence, those who perpetrate these crimes are both non-Fulani and Fulani. We should begin to do things differently and in a new way to bring them out for sanctions.
“Fulani who know the criminals among them must expose and report them to the appropriate institutions. So must other ethnic groups. There should be cooperation among our people. Fulani leaders and other groups are urged to approach traditional institutions anytime they find some thing that is not right within their communities. They should refer concerns to the different levels of traditional leadership up to the paramount traditional rulers.”
The meeting agreed that it was important that key stakeholders be informed to ensure that justice or sanctions are carried out against culprits and not swept under the carpet.
President Obasanjo also invited Dayo Adewole, son of former Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who was kidnapped in his farm in Ondo State few months back by herdsmen and was later released.
Adewole, while narrating his ordeal during his kidnap, said there were Yoruba collaborators in the herdsmen saga hence the blame ought not to be heaped on the Fulani alone.