IGBOHO As A Freedom Fighter: How We Arrived Here, By Adeola Soetan

I smile when guys create impression that there was once a “perfect struggle” in the students movement or human rights struggle in Nigeria that anti-people government did not raise its finger against it, shoot, maim, arrest and at times, kill like army of occupation..

Pls tell me one example of that “perfect struggle” and its processes you or we had partipated in. I don’t know of anyone because for over 3 decades I have been involved at various levels of movement. Pls tell me one to learn from. Since 1978 “Ali Must Go” mass student protest that I was involved as a secondary school student to the anti-fuel price hike protest we did at Ojuelegba in 2020 and the recent ENDSARS protest that I partly addressed in 2020, the brutal state has always been crazy to suck blood at different levels of state terrorism. So, let the perfect activists or , the do-nothing revolutionaries, the egregious protests post-mortem “anatomist” , the automated Abobakus and the lousy voluntary idiots remind us of one. I beg and let’s us debate it. Tyrants are bad, but supporters of tyranny are worse because in them, tyranny thrives and with them tyrants became monsters to devour all.

Beko, Gani, Aka Bashorun, Falana, Segun Sango, Odumakin, Arogundade, Aturu, Olorode, Awopetu, Jingo, Femi Aborisade, Joe, Biola Akiode, Sawaba, Balarabe Musa, Fela, Tony Fash, Aremson, Soweto, Sina Odugbemi, Sowore, MKO, Gani Adams, Ken Saro Wiwa etc were not Igboho, not roughnecks and never conducted the protests they organised and led in any “uncivilized” “illiterate” “warlords” versions.

They spoke good English, they never spoke “Yoruba Nasion” of your derision. We all know the hell they went through in the hands of tyranny, military & civilian dictatorship. Today, they are our heroes and part of our history of struggle for better and secure nation. Gani was never a secessionist but a detribalised freedom and human rights fighter, yet the tyrannical State invaded his house & office, arrested & detained him for over 30 times. Beko, a medical doctor from elite family like his blood brother, Fela, he’s a dedicated human right activist only spoke for us before the State sent him to jail illegally after several detentions and physical attacks

Wetin Fela do? Fela only sang about Zombie soldiers beating civilians for streets, (which has increased now). Fela sang about corruption, commercial religionism, poverty in the midst of abundance, suffering & smiling, no much rally except analysis, interview, music & yabis, yet, Obasanjo regime burnt his house, Kalakuta Republic, killed his ideological mama, Mrs Funmilayo Kuti, raped his wives, torture Fela & his boys. Buhari regime jailed him and Babangida finished the job.

Dele Giwa was just a patriotic investigative fine journalist, he was bombed. Nigerian bourgeois state under military or civilian government is a criminal state of power bandits and hoodlums who will always resist protests, but like Reggae music, protest can’t stop because it’s a right to resist tyranny. So, let the “perfect activists” the “Oluaye of struggle” and all the self acclaimed custodians of organised protests without government attack, that was massive, principled & uncompromising, that the State received with red carpet applause, come out and say it. . No event, no history and no heroes and no advancement to human race. Mistakes are bound to be made, corrected and learnt from them. But we must never justify State Terrorism and Gestapo – like invasion of citizens home to steal, raid, rape and kill at night.

What gave birth to Igbohos?
Igboho is spontaneous situational leader created by the ineptitude & nepotism of Buhari regime to critically & timely address the violent Fulani herdsmen invasion of people’s land, who kill, maim and do all that with impunity with Miyetti Allah openly claiming responsibilities & threatening to do more. What did government do? No Miyetti Allah leader who openly claimed responsibility for invasion of farmland and killings was ever invited by DSS or police for questioning. So, what message is government passing to the citizens and the victims? Fulani race superiority over others and all lands are grazing land with no ownership right?

When 78 citizens were slaughtered in Benue state by herdsmen and less than 24 hours Miyetti Allah Kanti claimed responsibility, what did Buhari do and say when the bereaved visited him? His response was that “the Benue people should go and learn how to live peacefully with their neighbors”.

Over 20 villages were sacked in Yewa by some violent Fulani herdsmen including the foreign Fulanis and the Oba of Isanlu and other kings cried out that soldiers also assisted some Fulani herdsmen to graze on their lands by force, what did Buhari and Gov. Abiodun do? Many villagers fled to neighboring Benin Republic as refugees. Buhari himself had declared that many of these herdsmen bandits are foreigners, what did his government do to save the natives and stop the foreign invaders? How many of these foreigners were arrested & jailed in their operation “Graze, Kill & Go”?

Government’s response has been more provocative & supportive of the criminal invasion. “Your ancestral land for Grazing or your life” – Femi Adesina (the presidency)
“What do you want them to do when their grazing routes have been occupied due to developments” – NSA. Grazing routes in 2021? Is that not craziness?

Hundreds including infants are hacked to death regularly by hetdsmen. What’s the response of many of us who can do “perfect struggle” to the daily human carnage happening in our rural areas which is daily & widely reported by the media? Golden silence because we are not affected in our comfort zone or we just watch the horror and pass mild comnent over bottles of wine.

Where’s our humanity, have we been so callous and made bestial by our political partisanship, money, money, money, despite our kukukere kurukere to Mecca and Jerusalem to profess the faiths we do not truly believe in their teachings beyond false facade of abstract religionism? Have we lost all our conscience to filty lucre, cheap money & contract from government and godfathers that we are now blind to social justice and talk truth to power as some of us used to do. Or we are just tired and overwhelmed by this regime of a crude, old stone age tyrant looking for grazing routes for his native herdsmen at all cost in the 21st century? Can we reamind Buhari and his grazing route co-searchers that cow businsees like poultry or piggery is a private business of individuals. Nigeria has not adopted cow rearing as the official business of the State, so, why this wahala of open grazing and killings by compulsion? Hundreds of private poultry /fishery farms have relocated or closed down due to development of their initial areas of location and complaints by other residents. Meran poultry farms estate in Lagos which is now a cluster of modern houses is an example. Nobody was killed by displaced and evacuated poultry farmers. Buhari! O ma de ga o! E get as e be o.

I was in Imeko sometimes ago to consult for a London based Agric & rural empowerment foundation and the media also reported recently the human tragedy in that Yewa axis. It was the tale of woes even more than Okeogun farmers by poor farmers of Imeko, Egua, Isanlu and other boarder villages from the account of their suffering from violent Fulani herdsmen particularly the Foreign Fulani herdsmen who kill, rape & take over their land with no one including government to help them. Their kings are made powerless to act by state apparatus . What do you want these people to do? I have produced farmers radio and other Agric related programmes, documentary, research work for agencies and at a time we were organizing Farmers – Media Forum to help out on this invasion of farms by herdsmen and other issues. This crisis had been an agelong one but Buhari who has a ranch as a good role model that these rich cow owners should emulate, decided to escalate the crisis by his incurable provincialism. Why did Buhari want to lead Nigeria into another Civil War because of ordinary cow? This not leadership but gangsterism and land grabbing.

Recently, a well educated hardworking lady who has over 500 acres farmland in Lanlate had her fiance shot dead while they were on their way to Ibadan after the day’s work.. She invited her fiance from Lagos to join her and operate a processing farm. Their wedding scheduled for December last year became a nightmare. She was kidnapped for days until the family paid huge sum running into millions of Naira to these rural bandits. I called Edmund Obilo, the radio man, to commend him for professionally reporting the plight of the rural dwellers in Okeogun which has been on for decades but escalated during Buhari regime because of the regime’s utterances and body language.

The lady identified them as the familiar bororo herdsmen in Lanlate (Edmund Obilo did a video documentary on it, you can watch) , A successful life is wrecked for ever. What did Seyi or Buhari do for this family and many more like that?

My wife & daughter, Empress, wept that evening we watched the documentary of the lady’s agony together. It was a very sad moment that evening that I thought perhaps I should have watched it alone because Empress was asking brilliant but difficult questions for me to explain clearly.

Insecurity is a whirlwind, anywhere we are, we will get our own portion one day if it continues unabated. The lady went back after the period of mourning, all her farm hands had disappeared, by now, the farm would have closed down. Many more like that, losing their farms after collecting huge loans. The Defenders of tyranny don’t address their minds to this type of regular tragedies in rural areas than to defend and lie to change the narratives and give excuses that they also condemned in the past failed regimes. Truly, “Ise Aje Le”

Just consider the lady or her dead fiance is /was your close relative, will you say No to Igboho:s little solidarity / confidence building to your village despite reservation for his methodology since government has abandoned you to your fate for many years?

When government fails and the perfect activists” or emergency nationalists stand akimbo and only enjoy the video of human killings on social media to pass comments or write romantic “protest letter” to condemn it , the raw, rough, illiterate but courageous Igbohos will be the situational leaders because nature abhors a vacumm.

Who knew Igboho 2 yrs ago as a Yoruba activist or ethnic agitator beyond his publicized commercial political thuggery lordship?
I met Igboho once at a birthday party in Germany, he was so colorless, so simple & highly respectful bowing for everyone on sight. . I didn’t know him until my friends told me about him and his war expedition during Modakeke – Ife war, his acclaimed juju prowess and polical thuggery exploit (now politicians who patronize them call them “political enforcers”). I just ignored the “citation” and continued catching my fun that cold night as Igboho became the cynosure of all eyes including the DJ who was praising his name everytime.

Now years after, I have to start writing about Igboho, not the one introduced to me in Germany as a life loving, juju empowered “political enforcer”, but now a raw, courageous, “illiterate” freedom fighter for Yoruba farmers and natives whose farmlands and villages are regularly sacked by some violent local and foreign Fulani herdsmen who take their land forcefully for open grazing of cows and their lives when resisted in the presence of a regime they voted to power.

Igboho suddenly became a Yoruba nation agitator with all his crude & civilised methods and according to his and his mass followers” understanding of the situation, when those educated “decent” political elites who campaigned on restructuring, power devolution, true federalism and revenue redistribution which could have addressed some of these issues that manufactured the Igbohos have abandoned their promises and have been captured by their dubious silence.

I never imagined for once that an Igboho would be at the barricade, on the streets, not to rig & kill for “do or die” corrupt politicians, his genesis, but to take a raw courage to defend his Oke Ogun people and his Yoruba nation, against some violent Fulani land grabbers prodded by the State apparatus. I had never thought that a rich political roughneck would command such a huge followeship of helpless, angry, battered, poor, rich, anxious farmers and hungry citizens of Yoruba extractions looking forward to him, rightly or wrongly, to save them from forest bandits and from a failed government that told perplexed citizens to defend themselves from Ak47 armed Fulani herdsmen and bandits of varied ethnic stock. Such a huge crowd would have taken politicians millions of Naira with total mobilisation by inducement to organise.

For me, such a movement can’t be ignored with a wave of the hand as a socialist and experienced protester. Such a movement must be situated, critique and draw useful lessons for perspective development on multidimensional approaches the Nigeria struggle may break with or without our planning or intervention.

I am not a rhapsodic arrogant elite, I am of the street, I learn from the low and the high, I live with the masses, mix, chat and learn from them as they also gain from me. We can’t afford to fold our arms when tyranny and bad governance propels rural banditry against the poor farmers locally and nationally, we must speak up against land grabbing, your life or your land grazing body language of this regime. Ask them, after the months of RUGA noise, how many states in the north that have shown their reception to RUGA and ranching have commenced operation? Baba Agba is really notl interested, he has shown his interest is open grazing, he’s now looking for 1963 cattle route gazette in 2021. Laughable!

Why would the Igbohos not seize the initiative when many ex-this, ex-that have become Abobakus defending all tyrannical actions of government, or we are battle weary, or now too rich & too decent to protest, arrogant as custodians of struggle, or old, weak, organizationally confused or just having a false sense of safety and security in our comfort zones, or gladly have “retired” after a long period of remarkable commendable leadership of struggle.

How long Igboho’s movement lasts like many struggles before it will not be determined by bloody tyranny but by the resolution of those issues that makes Igboho relevant to many people and the consciousness they put into it.

Igboho is an effect of a cause. So, when we deal, critique & condemn the effects, let’s address the cause first, that’s the way to go. Blame the nonchalant government that failed to secure its citizens first before blaming the effects.

If Igboho is killed today, as some voluntary idiots may wish, he has etched his name in our memory, not as a rich political thug of his genesis anymore, but as a controversial, hated and loved, popular, raw courageous, juju embellished freedom fighter for his Oke Ogun – Ibarapa and Yoruba poor farmers and the people feeling disenchanted by their state of helplessness in the face of terror and land grabbing by fully armed accredited and non-accredited bandits while government always tells the citizens to defend themselves. But, with what? Cow stick, brooms, catapult or Juju Igboho?

This is the new Revelation of Igboho synthesis from Genesis as political thugs to some of your political godfathers. Many of those who hate Igboho for fighting for poor Igangan farmers would have loved him if he had continued to play the political enforcer role with other rich thugs for their power desperate leaders.

We should condemn the midnight gestapo- like attack on his “juju” embellished mansion, we should condemn the extra- judicial killing without trial of citizens captured in his house and demand for the immediate release, or speedy trial of the arrested if found culpable.

We are human beings not animals in the jungle. Government cannot be crazy and be blood thirsty always.

Adeola Soetan

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