I met Brigadier Dimitrov Greg, a one-time defence attache to the Embassy of Russia in the Republic of Ireland at the University of Ruse, Bulgaria in 1996. He loves Nigeria and always keeps himself abreast of what is happening there.
When I was in the Republic of Ireland, we were so close and hardly could a week pass without us visiting each other.
My visit to Russia in 1999 was facilitated by Greg. He took me round the Russian military formation. It was a lifetime experience.
Last week, as usual, Greg called me and in the course of our discussion, we talked about Fulani herders and their host communities in different parts of the country.
Why do they consistently have difficulties living peacefully with their hosts?
I mentioned two likely factors to him and they include:
1) The government
Fulani herders are mostly illiterates without education; they have no Western and Quranic education. They are mostly nomadic.
The government dosen’t care about them and the elites among them only show them love whenever they have a problem with their host community.
My friend told me that Russia was in a similar situation years back with their people referred to as travellers.
The travellers didn’t have homes, no bank accounts and were always on the move.
They were always hostile and felt rejected by their government. However, they didn’t rear animals like Fulanis but they committed crimes like bandits.
There is a similarity between the two.
When the Russian Government discovered this problem, they made free education compulsory for them and made it a crime for them not to register with their host community.
For every Russian citizen, the National Identification Number is a must from the day of birth. Russian citizens can’t commit a crime without being arrested.
With this in mind, the criminals amongst them always know that if you cannot serve the time, you must not commit a crime.
But back home in Nigeria, the so-called lovers of Fulani herders are always waiting for opportunities to show their love for their kinsmen whenever they have problem with their host community.
When in power, the so-called Lovers of Fulanis will corruptly enrich themselves and buy big mansions all over the world. They will send their children to the best schools all over the world. They will not think of their brothers in the bush neither they will think of the welfare of the over five hundred thousand young Fulanis in the Ondo forest.
They are always ready to make a political statement. They are ready to travel from Maiduguri to Ibadan to plead with the governor to allow poor Fulani herders remain in the bush but their children are living large in Europe and America. What an irony!
The current President of Nigeria is a Fulani man.
I thought he will use his position and experience to order the children of poor Fulani herders to come out of the bush and embrace education that will change their lives forever.
I was expecting President Buhari to construct a low-cost housing estate in all the local governments like what the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) did between 1979-83 before he was over thrown them and then allow these poor Fulani herdsmen to enjoy discount so they can start to live a normal life.
However, that’s not the case, the lovers of Fulanis are happy seeing their kinsmen in the forest than starting up foundations that will help transform their lives.
My advice to all these ‘pajawiri’ organisations that are always quick to banish the poor Fulani herdsmen to the forest for the rest of their lives is that they should know that whatever we do on earth, we will account for it one day.
If we continue to play politics with the lives of our kinsmen, we will surely account for it one day.
Wole Arisekoka, a businessman and publisher of The Street Journal writes from Ibadan.