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RE: The Fulani Will Not Leave By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde

July 15, 2012

I read the captioned article by Dr Tilde, http://saharareporters.com/article/fulani-will-not-leave-dr-aliyu-u-til…, with much trepidation and surprise. For one thing I have read a couple of his articles and most of them were balanced, insightful and thought-provoking. However, this particular article was a marked departure from his usual writings that I have come across. It was alarmist, devoid of debt and blatantly sectional. It was as if he wrote it in the middle of 100 meters dash! But more worrisome to me is the suggestion that my beloved Dr Tilde will only give a balanced opinion on issues when it is 'convenient' for him but, when 'seemingly' his interest appears to be mentioned, he will throw caution to the wind and descend to the level of the primordial sentiments. I beg to differ from Dr Tilde in this particular article.  

I read the captioned article by Dr Tilde, http://saharareporters.com/article/fulani-will-not-leave-dr-aliyu-u-tilde, with much trepidation and surprise. For one thing I have read a couple of his articles and most of them were balanced, insightful and thought-provoking. However, this particular article was a marked departure from his usual writings that I have come across. It was alarmist, devoid of debt and blatantly sectional. It was as if he wrote it in the middle of 100 meters dash! But more worrisome to me is the suggestion that my beloved Dr Tilde will only give a balanced opinion on issues when it is 'convenient' for him but, when 'seemingly' his interest appears to be mentioned, he will throw caution to the wind and descend to the level of the primordial sentiments. I beg to differ from Dr Tilde in this particular article.  

  First, If the military wanted to cleanse these local governemnts of their Fulani population, they would not warn residents to relocate; they would simply attack Odi-style. The call to relocate is temporary and humanitarian in nature; militaries across the world routinely warn residents to leave areas where they are about to carry out major operations to flush out criminal elements or rebels. The reason is simple - to avoid or minimize civilian casualty in areas where millitants and terrorists use the locals as human shield. This strategy has been used severally by NATO forces in Afghanistan as well as Israeli forces battling  to contain millitants that fire rockets from Palestinian territories into their cities. Of course, the people are free to go back to their homes after the operation. How this gesture amounts to 'cleasing' in Dr Tilde's opinion is baffling to me.    Secondly, permit me to ask a few questions, 'Does it mean that it is only Fulanis that are living in the areas mentioned?' Even if that is the case, are we saying that all the people there held a meeting or meetings, conspired and mobilized to massacre innocent citizens from other villages in their numbers? I seriously doubt that whole towns will decide to be killing with such reckless abandon. And if they did not all agree to be killing people, why are they not giving information that could lead to the arrest of the culprits? My answer to this is that the killers are holding them hostage; they are held in terror; they cannot talk for the sake of their lives! Threat to live is one of the ways millitants and terrorist keep their unwilling hosts from talking.   In the circumstance then, what is Dr Tilde's own solution to the problem? Should the nation continue to watch while the gang use these innocent, albeit fear-stricken people, as shield while they continue to unleash mayhem? Or should the military embark on such operation without prior information, with the inevitable collateral damage? One would have expected that he would have offered an alternative to their plan and not just rush in defense of the fulanis. How many people did he talk to, anyway, that said they don't want to leave their homes. It will surprise Dr Tilde, that is assuming does not know already, that the majority of the residents do not want these killers in their midst. They want to live their lives devoid of fear. They want to sleep at night without fear and wake up the following morning minding their businesses.   I believe Dr Tilde is vast in international affairs, and he knows what the talibans are doing with people among whom they live - how these people cannot cough except with permission from them, how peace-loving villagers are murdered in the presence of their children and wives as a deterrent and example to others. Same as Hamas and all millitants everywhere. That should give Dr Tilde a picture of what innocent people face every day in these villages. It is easy for one to sit down in a safe place and offer no help but say 'no' to every initiative or critisize every move and cause a stalemate in every situation. But please try to relocate to all these violent places, most with curfew in place - sometimes 24 hours, and many of them taking refuge in barracks; where relatives from other parts of the country have to send recharge cards to them for them eat despite the fact that they can actually afford to feed themselves. I am sure, he will either be more circumspect when he writes, or sooner than later, he will no longer afford to pay for internet access due to unending curfews and threat to life.   For the avoidance of doubt, I believe this call for a temporary relocation is not a fulani issue; it is about a killer gang, a well-organized criminal gang, hiding among a people. They need to be fished out without harming innocent people. If he would be sincere and see beyond his fulani and Dan Fodio prism, he will see that the gang indeed needs to be fished out to free their hostage kinsmen and allow other peace-loving citizens to live peaceably. He will also see that the Military was even professional at the risk of jeopardizing the entire operation. I say this because the terrorists will just probably relocate with the villagers as they would not want an open confrontation with the military. However, since they would need to move large caches of arms and ammunition, chances are they may be spoted in the process.   Finally, it is ethnically coloured comments, laws, initiatives like this that have held this country down for decades and ensured that the country remained a baby 52 years after independence. It is what has ensured that the country not only remained as divided as it was at birth but has contnued to drift further apart in geometric progression. It is even more sad when intellectuals, who should ordinarily offer hope for a better Nigeria, join the fray.   Lest I forget, I would be waiting for Dr Tilde to offer his own insights on how to deal with the perennial gruesome murders being perpetrated in Plateau state, or give his applause to the murderers. To maintain the status quo will not only be irresponsible and unacceptable to sane people everywhere, it will amount to a serious crime against humanity which the he evidently detests.    Peace to the Plateau! Peace to Nigeria!     Jonas Chinedu lives in Lagos and wrote via [email protected]

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