How FG Can End Herdsmen Attacks, Banditry In July – PDP
POLITICS DIGEST – A chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party and member of the Historical Society of Nigeria, Dr Umar Ardo, tells JESUSEGUN ALAGBE he believes Fulani herdsmen attacks and banditry can end by July if the Federal Government applies the Fulani psychology of ‘Pulaku’ on the perpetrators
In a viral video clip last week, the Deputy Chief Imam of the National Mosque, Abuja, Prof Ibrahim Maqari, said it’s ‘haram’ (forbidden) to pay ransom in Islam. How true is this?
I am not versed in Islamic jurisprudence, so l cannot say for sure. But from the little l read, there was a payment of a ransom in Islam in exchange for prisoners of war captured in the course of the war between Muslims and non-Muslims. The Holy Quran and Hadith of the Holy Prophet of Islam command Muslims to release unconditionally or pay ransom for war prisoners, depending on their personal conditions. ‘Thereafter (free them) either as a favour (an act of grace) or (for) ransom until the war lays down (terminates) its burden…’ (The Quran, 47:4). The verse puts a clear premium on the fate of prisoners. It commands Muslims to release prisoners in any case after the cessation of hostilities. The verse instructs Muslims on how to release prisoners. It provides unconditional release out of pity or release for ransom. Though the verse puts a priority on gratuitous release over ransoming prisoners by mentioning it first, still, ransoming is mentioned. Having myself once paid a ransom in bitcoins to my daughter’s kidnappers to get her released, l cannot see how l committed a sin by such an act. But Allah knows best.
Unfortunately, we’re in a situation where students are kidnapped for ransom, especially in the North-West. Some have been murdered by bandits because their parents/guardians/government refused to pay ransoms (on time). What should be done in this scenario?
Remember that the world is ruled effectively by thinkers who understand society and not by power mongers – the latter only destroy societies. If you understand the full context of every situation, you will be able to resolve the issue most satisfactorily – any situation at all! This principle applies both to natural and societal issues. So the first thing you do in solving a problem is to understand its dynamics, then the rest is easy. Why our problems remain unsolved is because the operators of government institutions do not understand the total circumstances of the issues involved.
As an example to your specific question, you can see how the (Sheikh Ahmad) Gumi/(ex-President Olusegun) Obasanjo Initiative has secured the release of all the 27 Afaka captives without paying any ransom. The reason is simple – the initiative understood the totality of the situation, particularly the psychology of the captors, and worked on it so well that the captors were happy to drop their monetary demands and release all of their captives. The Fulani psychology of Pulaku was used on them and it worked like magic.
In an opinion you wrote recently, you mentioned that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to extricate the government of accusations of extremism, Islamisation, Fulanisation, and so on with the retention of Dr Isa Pantami as a minister after he was exposed to being sympathetic to global terrorist groups in the past. Why do you think the Presidency must have retained Pantami despite his own confession and public outrage?
I don’t know why. Maybe President (Muhammadu) Buhari has a personal liking for Dr Pantami. For all l know, neither the Glorious Qur’an nor the Hadith of the Holy Prophet changed; what changed is the status of the preacher, which in turn changed the interpretation. But whatever the reason is, I still stand on what I wrote then.
You tweeted last Thursday that the government could disarm all armed Fulani bandits across the country and end banditry within 60 days. How is this possible?
It is possible if the principle l espoused in the answer to your second question is applied. If the government can support and cooperate with the Obasanjo-Gumi Peace Initiative, I assure you that we will conclusively solve the issue of herdsmen/Fulani banditry and kidnappings in Nigeria before the next Arafat Day (July 18). Yes, it’s possible. Don’t forget, it took less than 48 hours after the government keyed into the initiative when all the Afaka captives were released. The initiative demonstrated its capability with Afaka. It’s up to the government now to support and further its course.
What is the Pulaku strategy all about and how can it be used to end Fulani banditry and kidnappings?
Pulaku is the Fulani code of conduct defining and symbolising Fulbe identity and way of life, and bonding their relationship with one another, irrespective of any other affiliation. Once you appeal to this sentiment, most Fulbe tend to give in. But you must first have to understand the situation to draw the right cord.
By your suggestion, do you imply the government has been soft in handling banditry across the country?
Not really; l believe the government simply does not understand the dynamics of the situation. So it is applying the wrong solutions to the problem. Also, don’t forget Nigeria’s insecurity is today a thriving business in which a lot of people, particularly government officials, are making a lot of money and giving the President a bad name. So those who are getting material benefits would not want it to end. They will do everything to misinform the President and perpetuate the evil. This is what l think is going on with regards to the entire insecurity situation in Nigeria since 2011.
Would you consider writing a proposal to the various security and intelligence agencies on what to do to end the security crisis?
I have done so several times with no positive response yet. It is sad because President Buhari himself personally knows me quite well in his own partisan politics. He knows that I am a serious-minded person and I am a go-getter.
Anti-Fulani sentiments are growing across the country, considering the President’s alleged carefree attitude on attacks launched by armed Fulani herdsmen. Is it something to worry about?
Surely, we have every reason to worry. When we have security challenges, we cannot hope to develop. That’s a serious reason for concern.
On May 1, while reacting to the Presidency’s attack on the Enugu-based Catholic priest Fr Ejike Mbaka, who criticised the government’s handling of the security crisis in the country, you said the President never rewards good with good, and that you were his first victim. What did you do for the President and how did he repay you?
I was the one responsible for his fourth (presidential) contest and victory after three unsuccessful attempts and a vow of not contesting for the fourth time. Remember, on April 13, 2011, while rounding off his campaign as the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, Major General Muhammadu Buhari said that if after the April 16 presidential election he was declared defeated, neither he nor his political party would challenge the election outcome at the Presidential Election Tribunal and that the 2011 presidential election would be his third and final time to contest for any elective office in the country. He said he wouldn’t leave politics, but that he won’t ever contest again. On Saturday, April 16, 2011, Nigerians went to the polls as scheduled to elect a new president. On Monday, April 18, 2011, the then Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega, announced the results of the election.
He pronounced Buhari and his CPC defeated and declared ex-President Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party winner. By General Buhari’s avowal of April 13, that should have been the end. Yet, dissatisfied with INEC’s pronouncement, the CPC filed a petition before the Justice Isa Salami-led Presidential Election Tribunal to challenge the results of the presidential election.
After going through a lot of twists and turns, the CPC ultimately lost the case at the tribunal. Dissatisfied with the judgment of the tribunal, the party appealed to the Supreme Court but subsequently lost at the apex court as well. Then, under Buhari’s leadership, the CPC got into a merger with other political parties, mainly the Action Congress of Nigeria, to form a new political party, the All Progressives Congress. On the APC platform, General Buhari contested again, for the fourth time, and was elected the President of Nigeria in 2015. These two events – the CPC going to the tribunal, and Buhari contesting in 2015 – meant that Buhari’s April 13, 2011 vow had been reversed! The questions are: What happened? Why and how did General Buhari’s avowal get reversed? And what was responsible for this reversal? Until these questions are asked and answered, any narrative and analysis of the merger that created the APC which subsequently led to Buhari’s contest and victory will be incomplete and defective. Now the answer to all these questions is Dr Umar Ardo.
I know that sometime ago, President Buhari credited Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna State Governor) for convincing him to run for the fourth contest, and El-Rufai himself claimed that it took him 15 months to convince Buhari. But with all due respect to both of them, they may both be mistaken; this credit comes to me. I have written a book titled, ‘Court and Politics: Chronicling my Experience in the Nigerian Theatre.’ My book contains the part that I played in the whole episode.
How do you feel that over a month after the Nigerian Air Force fighter jet crashed in Borno State, the plane has yet to be found by the security forces?
I don’t even know the plane has yet to be found. If that’s true, then it’s sad. The reason may well be that the crash site is under the control of the Boko Haram insurgents. It is an indictment of the war efforts against insurgency.
What do you make of the attempted burglary of the residence of the President’s Chief of Staff, Prof Ibrahim Gambari?
It just tells you that the state of insecurity in the country has reached an extreme level. If the Villa is not safe, then woe betides us ordinary mortals.
Apparently frustrated by the country’s imbroglio, Southern governors had a meeting a week ago in Delta State and made some demands from the President. Do you think it’s a meeting they should have held earlier, looking at the fact that the security and economic crises the country is witnessing started a long time ago?
But governors have always been meeting. What makes this Southern governors meeting special is the communiqué released. Personally, I agree with their communiqué in full. They reiterated their commitment to the unity and indivisibility of the Nigerian state; devolution of powers and resources; and creation of state police. We should simply distil the communiqué and embellish it with details. My only worry is with regards to having state police. If state police are to be created and be run like the state electoral commissions, then there is a serious cause for concern because incumbent governors will simply eliminate their opponents like they do in local government elections. This is an aspect that we must be careful in its creation, training, operation, and command structures. Let the Northern governors also bring their own side of the demands and harmonise the two to build something new and workable for our country and move forward.
Do you think the All Progressives Congress and the People’s Democratic Party stand a chance in the 2023 elections because there’s a notion that both parties have failed Nigerians?
The 2023 elections will be mainly between the two parties, even though this will depend on the outcomes of their congresses. There’s a chance that a third force may emerge though, like the Social Democratic Party. Everything will be clear after the congresses of the two main parties, the APC and PDP.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has raised an 11-member panel to investigate the activities of the Nigerian Ports Authority, which has been accused of mismanaging around N165bn. But the panel was not given any deadline in carrying out its investigation. Is this is a serious way to fight corruption?
Let’s wait for the outcome of the investigation first. But there are also several other humongous allegations of bribery and corruption against many other serving public officials and nothing is being done on them yet. I think it is in the interest of the government to do so now rather than for an opposition to come and do so later.
Some citizens believe in restructuring while some, who seem to have lost hope in the country, are agitating for secession. Which option do you think can best address the country’s challenges?
No matter how we restructure the country, what is most important is the operators of the system. Almost any problem can be successfully resolved if there is effective leadership by the operators. If this is lacking, no restructuring can save the country.
You once tweeted that without what you did for President Buhari between April 2011 and July 2013, he would never have governed Nigeria. Should he decide to compensate you today with probably an appointment, would you stop criticising him?
I will stop criticising him publicly because I will be advising him officially. If I could do this for him at the political campaigns strategy level in 2015, why does he think l cannot do that for the country under him at the governmental level? This is my grouse against the President – not involving me in his government after getting him into the office! And to a large extent, it’s the central reason why his government has apparently failed. If I had been in his regime from the beginning, Nigeria would not have deteriorated this much because I would not have allowed him to derail. But if he refuses to listen after advising him and things continue to worsen for the country, I would simply resign. Don’t forget l once resigned from the Villa before.