The Osin River or more well-known as (Odo Osin) occupies a unique position in Igbomina history. Legend has it that a pretty woman angrily turned into the river after she had to endure long societal insults for barrenness. Osin flows from Ila Orangun to Ajasse-Ipo, Ilala and many other places into the River Niger practically encircles Igbominaland which makes her unique to them. Osin provides refuge to those who seek her. You don’t weep to Osin and come back still bereaved. She will graciously give you what you ask provided you are due for it. But weeping extensively at this great river without Osin knowing what you really want will fetch one nothing!
An avid observer of the Nigerian political and social space since January this year cannot fail to notice several developments from herdsmen “killings” especially in Benue state to the kick-starting of political campaigns for the 2019 elections. All these events have their interconnectedness.
On the several killings, one will notice several commentaries especially on social media about the cause(s) of the killings, but sadly, few analysts seem to know the cause and fewer seem to have provided solutions to the problem. What one cannot but fail to notice are the continuous rantings and understandable anger. But do all these solve problems?
I recall telling someone in February that the recent killings, especially in Benue state, cannot be technically classified as the normal Herdsmen/Farmers conflict. Though, there is grand or “evil” agenda in a section of the media to promote the narrative that the killings were carried about by ‘Fulani’ herdsmen just to find a way to link President Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani, to the killings. In doing so, promoters of the narrative want us to pretend that farmers/herdsmen conflicts in Nigeria are recent phenomena. The only solution the promoters of this narrative proffer is to “vote out Buhari.” Unfortunately, these ones are only interested in seeking electoral and other political gains from the misfortunes of others. Buhari will not be Nigerian president forever. If for any reason he stops being president today, does this mean the conflicts will just disappear into the thing air? I am sorry to disappoint you, Surely not. It will not because it is not an algebraic equation that just gets solved by simply changing one variable. In 2015, many Buhari supporters believed that voting out President Goodluck Jonathan will just automatically bring an end to Boko Haram insurgency. We all living witnesses to how easy it has been ending the insurgency indeed!
This problem has been with us for as long as anyone can remember. In my opinion, it seems we have gotten so used to it. It has become a “normal” part of us. We play with it and when it bites, we cry to the heavens not knowing what to do. Like prostitutes, they are condemned using the strongest words in the daytime, only for the same prostitutes to be used to satisfy some uncontrolled libidos by nightfall. We do not seem to want a solution to the problem because it appears to have its own “benefits”.
Things like these used to be serious problems in many West African countries, but today no more because they chose to find lasting solutions to the problem. Herdsmen and farmers are living in harmony in Ghana, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and the likes. These countries used to be the hotbed for farmers/herdsmen conflicts. In our case, we play politics with it like we do with everything else before things escalate.
The farmers/herdsmen conflict is not primarily a political problem. There are dimensions to it. There are questions of environmental (climate) change; development and food security; national security; land reforms and citizenship; and political and religious issues. On the list, the political dimension would have conveniently been the least. But this was made difficult when “vested interests” like ethno-religious people and politicians chose to make gains out of the misfortunes of others. This is why I sat down beside Osin river and wept!
Olalekan Waheed ADIGUN is the author of the fast-selling book WITNESSING THE CHANGE. He can be reached at +2348136502040, +2347081901080 or email: [email protected] . He tweets from @adgorwell. He blogs at http://olalekanadigun.com/