Fulani are not the problem of Nigeria: An Igbo woman’s perspective – A rejoinder, By Chisom Omeokachie

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Before our dear government bans opinion writing and blogging in Nigeria, a beautifully written piece titled ‘One-Sided Report on Igbos: A Fulani Woman’s Dilemma,’ by Zubaida Baba Ibrahim, caught attention and I couldn’t resist responding to swiftly.

At a time of uncertainty, insecurity, civil unrest and injustice, must commend those who are brave enough to speak up loudly and clearly. That was what, Zubaida, a young Fulani from Northern Nigeria did eloquently and courageously with her article.

As a young Igbo living in Nigeria, I have family and friends who lived through the civil war and several ethnic clashes across Nigeria and I join brothers and sisters to say “Ozo Emena”.

I have also seen in real-time how destructive can be and totally condemn . However, I know that all Fulani are destructive and is an unfortunate case of very few bad eggs.

While is true that most herdsmen are of the Fulani tribe, and the nomadic lifestyle is an integral part of the Fulani history and culture, there is more to the Fulani cattle raring and trading.

The Fulani are also known for being great artists and are primarily known for decorated gourds, textiles, hairstyles and personal adornment. Important collections of Fulani art appear at the Fowler Museum at UCLA in USA, the Musée de Bamako in Mali, among great museums.

The Fulani also have great Islamic and scientific scholars throughout history like Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Al-Fulani Al-Kishwani, an early 18th century Fulani mathematician, astronomer, mystic, and astrologer from Katsina, present-day Northern Nigeria.

The late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, of the best performing Presidents of Nigeria was also of the Fulani tribe. He championed peace, unity and innovation during his time. His policies on the , education, infrastructure, among , still remain fresh in the hearts of many Nigerians, which is he was widely accepted in all the regions of the country. He only spent three years in office but those three years were considered more or less the best in Nigeria’s democratic history. To him, it was always country first.

Personally, I too have witnessed the accommodating and respectful nature of the Fulani having worked very closely with some of them at PRNigeria Centre, Abuja where I was groomed in the arts and science of public relations and journalism as a mass communication Student back 2017. Working as an intern in the firm owned by a northerner I am surprised that Zubaida is a staff writer in that communication firm where the owner taught us patiently and showed us the ropes in PR and critical writing. The staff and family members made us (interns from different tribes and religions) feel at home, working together and eating together as proud Nigerians.

Every of Nigeria is endowed with great and brilliant minds from the Hausa/Fulani of the North East and North West, to the Igbo and Yoruba of the and South West to the over 300 ethnic groups in between. We have the human and natural to a country that we all can be proud of, instead, we are occluded by tribalism and religious differences.

There must never be a time when the majority should pay for the crimes of a few members of group. It is unjust and uncivilised. With the menace of the ravaging farmlands and crops of fellow Nigerians, may be tempted to classify all Fulani as hostile and irrational people but that would be a grossly false narrative.

It is also unfortunate that the current administration seems to have done nothing to mitigate the ongoing conflict between farmers and herdsmen through a mutually benefiting solution. This has only worsened the widely held opinion in some quarters that they are a Fulani administration rather a Nigerian qdministration.

In recent times, due to distasteful politics at all levels, there is loud agitation for secession in the southern part of Nigeria by the (Biafra) and South West (Oduduwa).

Perhaps one day, the European marriage of Nigeria will be annulled and we may all go our separate ways, but in the meantime, we are one country and it is in our own best interest to coexist in respect for one another and in peace.

We must restructure for the sake of peace and progress. It is pertinent that every Nigerian feels like a Nigerian with all privileges as well as the of Nigerians irrespective of tribe and religion.

It takes ordinary people like new sister, Zubaida of Adamawa State, and I, Chisom of Anambra State to rise up and resist the divisive messages and policies of people bent of pinning us against one another. Our generation of Nigerians are saying enough and we must act upon it.

Like Barrack Obama said, “In the face of impossible odds, people who love this country can change it.”

Chisom Omeokachie, a graduate of Mass Communications writes from Awka