By Ralph Madugu
A group of Nigerian elders under the umbrella of Eminent Elders Forum (EEF) made up of very top ranking senior citizens who have transversed all spheres of human endeavours, have advocated that if Nigeria cannot re-enact the spirit of the first National Anthem in the nation called Nigeria, “then without mincing words: to thy tents oh Nigerians becomes a sine qua non.”
“We Can part in Peace to allow each Ethnic Groups/Nationalities to Develop and Manage their Affairs at their own Pace.”
In a 19-point Resolution signed by Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Co-chairman alongside 10 other Steering Committee members of the EEF and issued at the end of a 3-day virtual precisely from 8th -11th of August 2021 on topical national issues that focused on ethnic profiling, ethnic cleansing, dispossession of indigenous ancestral lands by foreign invaders and the heightened separatists agitations across the country, the Elders blamed the Buhari led administration for “largely responsible for the ethnic profiling of the Fulanis through his utterances and actions particularly since he came into power again in 2015.”
Citing some specific instances to buttress their claim, the EEF said “Speaking in Cairo, Egypt during the African Union Summit in 2018, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari gave free entry into Nigeria to foreign Fulanis from all over the continent.
“These are the same Fulanis who on arrival in Nigeria occupied the forests all over the country, from late 2019 through 2020, during the lock down occasioned by the ravaging Pandemic – COVID-19.
“THAT no sooner did these foreign Fulanis occupied the forests than all manners of killings, kidnappings, destruction of farmlands and properties escalated across the nation.
“THAT an ethnic group associated with the current President of Nigeria has been fingered in the various odd happenings in Nigeria presently.
“Information has filtered through talks by eminent persons that confirms the unfortunate involvement of that ethnic group in the mayhem plaguing the country.”
The Elders maintained that by virtue of their age old occupation as cattle herders, the Fulanis under Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association believed they owned grazing routes in all parts of the Federation and therefore are entitled to possess by force of arms these routes for grazing of their cattle.
EEF further linked the migration by Fulani with their cattle as one of the causes of confrontation with indigenous land owners and cautioned that the magnanimity to accommodate roving band or nomadic people shouldn’t translate to abrogation of traditional rights of land ownership.
On what they described as “ethnic cleansing in Nigeria,” the Elders opined that there are several factors that showed clearly that the current killings have “pogromic and ethnic cleansing intents,” these according to the group, “are meticulously planned and systematically executed with the sanctions of the present government and leadership.”
The Elders stated that the ethnic cleansing and dispossession of indigenous ancestral land has been for some time but since 2013, it became an “open secret that escalated to full invasion and occupation by foreign Fulanis with the silent and subterranean support of the present Government Major-General Muhammadu Buhari’s regime.
“This is evident in Borno, Plateau, Kaduna, Benue and most recently in Niger and Ebonyi States among others.
“THAT it is generally believed that whatever we are witnessing today as a Nation was as a result of the foundation laid by the Major-General Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. He seems to have sustained the process through the negative instrumentality of the use of executive powers.
“It is his body language and silence which demonstrated in no small measure his approval of the massacre and ethnic cleansing in Kaduna, Middle Belt, South East and South West.
“The President has never openly condemned these killings; neither has the perpetrators been brought to book or prosecuted in any Court of law.”
On the heightened separatists agitations across the country, the EEF said though agitations for restructuring have been on the front burner since the late General Sani Abacha days, the demand for separation has now spread beyond South East and South West and now includes the Middle Belt and minority groups within North East and North West.
They maintained that the heightened separatist agitation is a “direct consequence of the prevailing situation of perceived injustice, lack of security of lives and properties, nepotism and religious bigotry.”
Among other resolutions, the Elders called for “CHANGE in attitude and utterances and style of governance by Major-General Muhammadu Buhari and his government.
“Respect for the rule of law, justice and fairness to all.
“Respect the spirit of Federal character in all appointments into Federal executive positions.”
The Elders also advised the armed forces to be more pro-active to stop the killings, abductions, kidnapping and banditry, flush out the foreign invaders from Nigeria territorial space and restore security of lives and properties of citizens across the countries Nigeria.
They further advised thus: “NIGERIANS especially those aggrieved by the present obnoxious governance system should team up and exercise their electoral franchise to ensure that no person known to be grossly biased ethnically or a religious fanatic should ever occupy any political and/or administrative office in Nigeria going forward.
“THE issue of religion(s) should be separated and distinct from State affairs. Government has no business in religious affairs.
“Nigeria is a secular state and should be seen to be secular in all ramifications of governance in the country.
“PREVENT the present administrations both at federal and state levels by all reasonable and lawful means from causing further collateral damages in the remaining tenure of their administration,” the Elders Forum stated.