On March 28th a hitherto unknown northern group known as the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, through its spokesman, one Yerima Shettima, had the nerve and effrontery to accuse Afenifere and the Yoruba nation of a “subtle campaign of ethnic cleansing”.
They went on to threaten us with what they described as “reprisals against the millions of Yoruba living in the north” if we did not stop complaining about the fact that our people were slaughtered in Ile-Ife and that the police were handling the whole matter in a selective, inappropriate and unjust manner.
It is clear that this is not an empty threat because for the last two weeks fake and horrendous videos and graphic pictures of what purport to be the killings of Hausa Fulanis by the Yoruba and the people of Ile-Ife are being circulated all over the internet and social media by those that seek to promote anarchy, violence and carnage and those that are set to kill.
This is not the time to escalate the tension and we must do all we can to exercise restraint and keep the peace but clearly the stage is being set by some in the north for ethnic pogroms and reprisals against the Yoruba.
Yet we are not in the least bit perturbed and someone should advise the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum and those that they represent that pulling the tail of the tiger can be a very dangerous thing indeed.
Like Shakespeare’s King Henry V once said, they must “wake not our sleeping sword lightly.”
They and whoever sent them can be rest assured that the Yoruba are not intimidated or deterred by their boastful threats and that we will lose no sleep over their irresponsible and reckless words.
Whether they and their sponsors like it or not we shall continue to complain and to protest and we eagerly await the full manifestation and execution of their cold-blooded and unwarranted threat.
Yesterday evening the Arewa Consultative Forum itself, the body of elders and leaders that speaks for the north, chose to stop hiding behind their youths and waded into the ring.
They issued a formal statement, through one Muhammadu Ibrahim, who is apparently their spokesman, cautioning Yoruba elders and leaders not to “give ethnic coloration to the Ile-Ife crises” and that if they continued to do so they should be mindful of and ready for what he described as “reprisal consequences”.
This is yet another not so well-couched warning and veiled threat. They have made their point and we have taken our stand. The next move is theirs.
Meanwhile I find it curious that not one prominent voice from outside Yorubaland, except for a handful of notable, insightful and deeply courageous essayists and political commentators like Reno Omokri and Jude Ndukwe, has spoken out against the evil and injustice that the people of Ile-Ife have been subjected to by both the Hausa Fulani community and the Nigerian Police Force.
It appears that the Yoruba have been left to carry their cross on their own even though when the Fulani militants and herdsmen, or indeed anyone else, commit genocide and mass murder against innocent people in other parts of the country the Yoruba are always at the forefront of speaking up for the victims.
Yet despite this wonderful quality of more often than not being our brother’s keeper, the people of the south west still harbour a number of so-called leaders within their ranks who are more comfortable with sleeping with the enemy than in defending or speaking up for their own.
Permit me to give just one example:
A few renegades from the south-west, whom I regard as the enemy within and the sons of perfidy, have complained that my two part essay on the Hausa Fulani and Yoruba clash in Ile Ife (titled “The Hausa Fulani, The Yoruba and The Slaughter In Ile-Ife”) was “too harsh” and that it may even have “compounded the problem”.
They also complained about the follow-up that I wrote to that article titled “The Sons and Daughters Of Ile-Ife: Butchered, Paraded and Now Prisoners Of War” which came out last week.
Frankly I am at a loss to comprehend their baseless concerns and criticisms or appreciate their warped logic.
How can one “compound the problem” by speaking the bitter truth?
How can one “compound the problem” by resisting evil and standing up for one’s own?
How can one “compound the problem” by standing against tyranny and ethnic domination?
How can one “compound the problem” by objecting to mass murder, genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity?
How can one “compound the problem” by pointing out that the Hausa Fulani must stop killing other Nigerians wherever they go?
How can one can one “compound the problem” by saying that we refuse to be sacrificial lambs or second class citizens in our own land?
How can one “compound the problem” by asserting that it is ungodly and unacceptable for others to storm our territory, rape our women, burn our homes, occupy our land, steal our farms, desecrate our places of worship, kill our children and terrorise our people?
How can one “compound the problem” by contending that it is not only a grave insult but also an affront to decency and justice that only the Yoruba were arrested by the police after the carnage at Ile Ife even though people from both sides were killed?
How can one “compound the problem” by rejecting the conspiracy of silence, refusing to be a coward and saying “enough is enough?”