With the pervasive insecurity across six states in the South-west geo-political zone, the National Chairman of Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), Hon. Olawale Oshun has accused Fulani herdsmen of an intent to subjugate the people of the region and take over their land.
Oshun, Chief Whip of the House of Representatives in the Third Republic, has supported his claims, citing the rising cases of kidnapping along Ibadan-Ife expressway and occupation of farmlands and farm settlements in different states in the region, which were allegedly perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen.
He made the allegations in an interview with THISDAY in his Omole Phase II residence at the weekend, disputing the position of some opinion leaders that the region’s pervasive insecurity stemmed from the country’s unprecedented rate of unemployment and abysmal economic woes it had been going through in the last few years.
He dismissed the argument of some national leaders, which ascribed insecurity in the South-west to abysmal economic challenges, noting that before now, the relationship between Fulani herdsmen and farmers had at best been friendly.
In the South-west, Oshun said, “We have always had herdsmen or nomadic, who go about their business in the South-west. Never before were they attacking their host communities. In fact, they were friendly based on the little I know.
“Even as a young man growing up, they used to be friendly, and they were accommodated. They were not destroying the farms of their hosts. What has changed that they are now attacking the farms of their hosts? There is the uncaring aspect.
“When their hosts complained, they attacked them. It is so sad how they treat women they meet on the farm. They raped them. Sometimes, they killed them. This cannot be part of the relationship we have witnessed in the years before.
“What could have changed? That justifies my own concept about subjugation and about wanting to traumatise. But why will they want to subjugate? Why will they want to traumatise? There must be an intent behind all these acts.”
He, therefore, argued that the intent “is that we are the ones in charge. We can take your land or your property if you want to. Whether it is kidnapping or herdsmen-farmers conflict, we cannot attribute what is going in the South-west state just pure economic deprivation or high rate of unemployment.” that is making people to do that.
In terms of intent, Oshun claimed that the dynamics and nature of insecurity “is purely a question of wanting to subjugate and take over people’s farmlands and property,” which according to him, could stoke resistance if not addressed.
With the grave threat to human lives and dignity, Oshun noted that any reasonable people “will ordinarily resist if nothing is done. That is normal. Whether locally, nationally or internationally, it is a normal reaction. There will be resistance.”
In entirety, he rejected the economic explanation of kidnapping and occupation in the South-west, pointing out that Nigeria “has always run through disequilibrium in terms of its economy. There have always been the oppressed.”
Oshun, equally, pointed out that there “has always been inequitable allocation of resources. What we have heard consistently is the widening gap between the armed and the non-armed. Whether this is sufficient to create the mindless criminals that we now have on its own is another matter entirely.
“If you look at the rate of crime in the past, even at the time civil war when there was proliferation of weapons in the country, the crime we had then was more of robbery targeted at making quick money. What we now have is greater than robbery.
“Kidnapping is just about making money, but also creating human trauma. It is almost giving impressing that the criminals are already in charge of our beings and survival. When someone is kidnapped, it is not just making the money alone. You have succeeded in reducing that human being to a non-being.”
He, thus, said the trend “cannot be explained only in the context of unemployment and economic woes. I interpret in the context of potential political manipulation. This is like subjecting a people to a question of master-servant relationship.
“We can see subjugation component as a consequence. I do not think economic woe is sufficient explain the spate of kidnapping in the South-west. I know two traditional rulers that were kidnapped in the region. That is the highest level of degradation. It is the highest level of desecration of their thrones.”