FROM MY DIPLOMATIC TABLE (OPINION): CONFLICT RESOLUTION – THE FULANI HERDSMEN CASE STUDY

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These people have been living side by side in peace. They have cohabited for decades. What went wrong? and when did it start? . The seed of discord can be sown gradually, it can be   social, religious, and political. Present situation of things in Nigeria is pathetic and absolutely disgusting! Our leaders have failed us as they indulge in unending bickering and blame game. They spend more time on their political gains than the welfare of the people and state of the country, we see and hear lots of anger that we wonder if the country would ever be same again. Never in the history of my country has it been this bad,a nation of diversity in culture and religion has suddenly turned into a battle field where each tribe seeks for attention while accusing the other of neglect. Nepotism and favoritism have got hold of our politics and become a norm for every aspect of governance. Yes, we weep sometimes at the height of injustice on the innocent and uncertainty that hangs around the future of this great country. However, I remain optimistic for the fact that i remember in awesome nostalgia my childhood in ABA, Abia state and how we lived in peace with the Northerners, Westerners, even Ghanaians. We all saw one another as brothers and sisters, as we shared the water, electricity, and whatever we saw in the community. We gave everyone a nickname and bragged about each other’s amazing prowess at different things.

Let’s go back to the Nigeria we had so many years ago, some people say politics contributed a lot to the current state of the country. Yes and NO! I say it depends on the people involved in the present day politics and their Rhetorics !!! Back in the day when Alhaji Shehu Shagari was running for presidency, in ABA a lot of people supported the soft spoken former school teacher. He preached peace and unity and it was shown in his words and action. I remember the jingle used on NTA Channel 6 ABA when the then President was visiting IMO state … It was so amazing that as a child we started singing in Hausa . We loved the President and prayed for him at school. I have no memory of anything bad about my country then, or about my leaders, they were all hard working people who cared so much for the welfare of our country. We had the Fulani cattle rearers walking about peacefully, never with guns or any form of weapons but with sticks to direct their cattle. They never ventured into farms or destroyed farm crops, but rather did their grazing at lonely fields. We even had these people from Niger Republic who came to do chores for money, they would wash and clean and at the end of the day get paid. Some of them started small scale businesses and were gradually incorporated into the community. Everyone lived in peace being our brothers keepers. The recurring question is when did it go wrong? At what point did Nigeria start this earthward plummet? How did the most populous African nation become tribalistic? Under whose watch did it all start? We have had enough of it all. Enough of the bickering, enough of the hatred, enough of the division, enough hate speeches, enough of selfish and greedy leaders. ENOUGH !

Take us back to the Nigeria that was once filled with milk and honey, the land of the rising sun, the land of Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo… Brothers who stood for the unity and peace of the country. Although they may have had different political views, they agreed on  common issues and found ways to move the country forward. The most important thing for those founding fathers was the issue of unity. The union might not be perfect, none is, even in the United States of America. However, there are ways of sustaining what we have while we find ways of improvement.  The key solution to all these is first to agree that there are real problems on ground, ignorance can never be an excuse.

As a child, I saw Fulani cattle rearers  in Aba, they had a place at the ABA Abattoir where they kept their cows after taking them around for grazing.. They usually did their grazing in the late afternoon and evening, at school fields when the students are gone and at very remote bush areas, never in farms. These young and friendly Fulani boys will cheerfully take their cows  back and forth for grazing and at the end of day retire to the abattoir.  I tell this as something I saw in the early eighties and I remember how happy I used to be when I see the cows coming, I would scream out to my cousins and we all rush to the balcony of my house to watch them pass. Sometimes, the Fulani herdsmen will wave at us and we call them ” ABOKI”

How did it all go wrong? How did it turn so bloody? I would not like to point fingers at anything or group of people .. Let the blame game stop! Instead , let dialogue start.  This country is made up of people from different background, tribe, language, culture, tradition ,religion, all living side by side .  I have friends from both North and West, people who I sometimes refer to as brothers and sisters because of the relationship we have had for years. I had a Boss, a Yoruba man who saw me as the best brain around with a hundred percent trust to watch his back. I see myself blessed as I work with these people and I  fall in love with my country and what  we can achieve together. I shed tears of joy when Nigeria beat Iceland at the World Cup cause it brought joy, hope and unity to all Nigerians .. I  watched a video clip on social media where a young man was shouting ” Nigeria my Country” , I read so many comments on how we should all call our new babies” MUSA” . Yes , both goals were scored by Ahmed Musa! A young Nigerian . Nobody cared if he was a Northerner or Muslim… For the whole of Nigerians on that beautiful day, MUSA was a Nigerian !

It’s time for us to go back to the drawing Board, this beautiful country has got a lot of potential, talents, honest people, God fearing, all sorts. We are only in this present state cause we have got it all wrong, we have misplaced our priorities and must get them right. Today, it’s all about tribe and religion.. It wasn’t like that when we won the Olympic Gold medal in football in 1996, or when in 1983 as a child I would run out to wave at “ABOKI” as he moved past our house with the herd of cattle.. Sometimes if their water had finished, they would hand  their water bottle to little boys who would fetch them water .. It was all done in good faith, with smiles on their faces .. Wow! That was the Nigeria I grew up in.. That’s the Nigeria I want back.

We can do this! It has to be done together, with both parties meeting each other at the centre. We have to compromise and work towards one thing , UNITY OF NIGERIA .  Everyone matters, every tribe is important. There’s no superior when it comes to our country, it belongs to all of us. There has to be mutual respect for one another in all things. We have to LOVE one another as brothers. When we go abroad we call one another brothers, but once we are back into the country it’s back to square one. It has to stop. Let the politicians tone down on their bickering, we can have some constructive Criticism in politics without verbal abuse or insults. These harsh words sometime go a long way in inciting hatred and hate speeches.  We have to recognise the uniqueness of the different tribes we have in our great country. We should know that none is perfect. We can tolerate one another and promote the unity we get out of it. Though we have a lot of tribes in our country, three main ones stand out:

Yoruba

Hausa

Igbo

… A short story. These three went on a journey, and unfortunately got into trouble when they met a very strong and fierce group of people. They agreed to use their talents to get away from the trouble. The Igbo man was to use his intelligence and confuse the group, the Yoruba man was to engage them in a long and loud conversation which stirred up fear among the group ,as they thought the yoruba man was telling them of an impending danger, the Hausa man came out with demonstration and display of anger. By the time the trio were done , the group were now confused and my brothers continued on their journey. That’s the Nigeria we have and cherish .. All of us living together in a land flowing with milk and honey, all of us pledging allegiance to the Green white Green flag of our great country! Knowing that though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand !

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria !

 

WRITTEN BY – PRINCESS PAMELA ULOMA ADIKWU

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1 Comment
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