We have read, watched and followed with keen interest various attempts in the wake of the unprovoked attacks on the Mwaghavul nation to label the people who are clear victims of the marauding Fulani terrorist attackers as the aggressors.
The profiling and stereotyping of the well- acknowledged peaceful, accommodating, hospitable and very industrious ethnic group is as unacceptable as it is offensive to the collective psyche of the people.
Found mostly in Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State, the Mwaghavul are accomplished farmers of not only subsistent crops but crops grown in commercial quantities, the main ones being maize and Irish potatoes. Based on the mass production of these crops and their value chain, the Mangu Friday Market has for the past several decades occupied the position of being the biggest weekly market in the state where traders from all parts of the far North, South West, South East and beyond the shores of Nigeria congregate to buy one produce or the other.
This has invariably turned, especially Mangu town into a cosmopolitan setting where people of different ethnic nationalities have been accommodated and co-habit peacefully.
Though majority of Mwagavul people profess Christianity, they have never been divided along religious faultlines.
In fact, the first Mishkaham Mwaghavul, then referred by the colonial masters as Sarkin Sura-Pyem, Alhaji Rashidu Da Mak was a Muslim who maintained excellent relationship with his largely Christian subjects. This accounts for why in most Mwagavul families, there are both Christian and Muslim members or relations.
Inter marriage among the various ethnic and religious groups have further cemented the bond of relationship especially in Mangu the Local Government headquarters.
This gave confidence to other nationalities to migrate from other parts of the state and country to live permanently in Mangu and the surrounding towns or Districts doing their businesses uninhibited. Some have engaged in farming, especially dry season farming on lands leased out to them by their Mwaghavul host communities.
The very industrious Mwaghavul people plough back the resources from their farm produce and businesses into education, hence the local goverment has the reputation of having the highest number of privately- owned schools, community secondary schools and faith- based institutions in Plateau State, thus making its people the most educated in the state.
Their existence in their various abodes in the ten Districts of Mangu, Kombun, Panyam, Pushit, Kerang, Ampang West, Mangu and the recently inaugurated Bwai and Bungha Districts, predate the colonial era or Fulani arrival into any part of present day Plateau State.
As peaceful as the people are, they welcome and accommodated visitors and migrants to their land, including the Fulani who have in recent times unwittingly turned against them.
The aggressive, sustained and spontaneous attacks on these peace – loving people in recent times, which heightened in April this year, ought to be condemned by all discerning minds across the state and nation.
The strategic position the local goverment occupies in the food value chain which President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has declared an emergency on (Food Security) cannot be overemphasised.
It is not an overstatement to say that if Mangu sneezes in terms of food availability or otherwise, the whole state or nation sneezes.
Within the period of the current crises, the prices of food items, especially maize has astronomically risen to an all time high. A bag which in April sold for N20 000 has now risen to N50 000, a one hundred and fifty percent increase. This might get worst with other food items such as Irish potatoes and acha which the local goverment is also one of the highest producers in the state.
Most communities in Mwaghavul land have now been dislocated and displaced through the senseless and irrational attacks by the Fulani terrorists.
If not properly handled, this can spell doom not only for the unsuspecting victims of the attacks but Plateau State and the nation at large, given the aforementioned scenario.
It is against this background that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in an unprecedented manner, acceeded to Governor Caleb Mutfwang’s request and deployed full compliments of security apparatus to the Local goverment to curb the menace of the blood thirsty Fulani invaders.
The Mwaghavul people remain highly indebted to Mr President for promptly directing the Inspector General of Police and the Chief of Army Staff who personally went to the local goverment, a development which has succeeded in dousing a lot of tension and rebuilding confidence amongst the hapless communities who could not engage in their primary business of farming this season.
We are, however, greatly disappointed by the negative narratives, especially by the Fulani attackers and their sponsors who have been spewing and spreading falsehood, deception and wild propaganda where they paint the Mwaghavul people who are the real victims in very bad light.
The Mwaghavul Development Association, the umbrella body of the Mwaghavul nation world – wide had responded edequately to some of these provocations especially the one by the leadership of the so -called Meyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN.
Our findings have revealed that MACBAN is an association of Fulanis who have squandered their inherited cattle wealth from their forebears and now reside in towns and cities where they instigate the hapless cattle owners who are desirous to live in peace with the indigenous communities in the local goverment and Plateau state as a whole.
The dispute resolution mechanism employed by the Mwaghavul traditional rulership with the Fulanis had hitherto been through the Ardos who are found in each of the Mwaghavul Districts.
The hydra-headed MACBAN who have become the perpetrators and escalators of the crises between the Mwagavul and the Fulani, have induced the crises and turned it into a very lucrative business enterprise.
It all began with the organised criminal kidnapping of our people whom they know are financially endowed for ransome.
This brought untold hardship and ridicule to the Local Goverment Area when this criminal act assumed the ugliest dimension of kidnapping traditional rulers including the highly – respected Sum Pyem, HRH Charles Mato Dakat who was kidnapped two years ago on Christmas eve!
As if this is not enough, knowing that their days in the state are numbered as Governor Caleb Mutfwang, a Mwaghavul man from Mangu and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu are two new sheriffs in town who would put an end to the fulani extremism at the state and national levels, they have become so desperately agitated.
They therefore, decided to lauch a full scale attack on the peaceful farming communities in the local goverment a month before their inauguration on 29th May, 2023. The death toll from this mayhem on the last count stands at over 400 with over 30 000 internally displaced persons living in different IDP Camps.
Villages have been ransacked and reduced to rubbles with churches desecrated and pastors’ residents either destroyed or occupied by these heartless hired murderers who have totally lost the humanity in them.
The MACBAN propagandists have unfortunately been joined by scores of others on especially Hausa news and programmes on local and foreign radio stations whose owners do not really know the kind of falsehood such irritant commentators do spread.
We call for caution by such courier of falsehood and profiling of an innocent people whose access to such electronic media are limited based on the recruitment pattern of such media.
Of great concern to us, hence the need to put the records straight, is a recent provocative publication by one hack writer called Sanusi Muhammad who calls himself a commentator on national issues.
The piece titled; CRISES ON THE PLATEAU:MUTFWANG HOW LONG? is a clear attempt by this agent provocateur to distort or re- invent history.
He began the write-up which is laced with tissues of lies by alleging that the sponsors of the crises on the Plateau which according to him include the killing of General Alkali are known but are being shielded instead of being prosecuted.
This is a deliberate attempt to generally profile the people of Plateau state as killers who have no regards to human lives. He is only being clever by half by trying to use isolated cases as a smokescreen to cover his real intention for the mischievous write-up.
He however, betrayed his emotions in the convulated piece by eulogising the Fulani whom he describe as “men of valour who do not easily subscribe to any cease fire once he is provoked”.
He continued that “the typical Fulani lives to fight till he is either silenced forever no matter who is involved in the fight not minding the consequences”.
Sanusu concluded his warp narrative about the Fulani by posturing that “unless Almighty God intervenes, there may never be permanent peace on the Plateau because these Fulani occupy positions of influence in the country and are more equipped for a sustained battle with superior weapons”.
As students of history which the Fulani rulers of our country proscribed its study in our universities to conceal their atrocious past, we have a clear-cut understanding of the psychology of the Fulani who always try to lord it over indigenous communities wherever they were welcome.
The Fulani in the entire West African sub region have, through the promotion of their dynastic and usurpatory rule, been ably checkmated in some countries.
A typical example is Senegal where with clear understanding of what the Fulani who form 25 percent of that county’s population are capable of doing, they have been safely kept out of access to political power. They have equally been chased out of Ghana where they have proved to be unwanted visitors.
We should not forget in a hurry how the long dynasty of the Fulani in Central Africa were chased out of the country by the sheer determination and bravery of stick and cutlass – carrying youth of that country against the superior weapon of the Fulani warlords.
Let the Fulani apologists like Sanusi Muhammad know that the era of the decadent sultanate system which came through conquest and imposition by the colonial masters’ indirect rule which gave them a leverage to take over almost all spheres of our economy must be checkmated.
As we witnessed during the immediate past dispensation in this country, policies were deliberately formulated to put the Fulani and their cows at an advantage over other citizens.
These included among others, weird policies as “cattle colonies” “cattle routes” “ruga” “water resources bill” which were staunchly resisted by the National Assembly until President Muhammadu Buhari exited office after eight years.
It is instructive to note that the Fulani who came from Futa Jallon and craftily took over lands and imposed themselves on the northernmost part of the country and who never conquered any inch of present Plateau State, have been unduly favoured by successive governments in this country.
It is against this background that the Mwaghavul nation is miffed by the provocative moonlight tale and jaundiced narrative by Sanusi Muhammad who painted an imaginary “Butum Fulani dynasty” in Mangu.
According to the fairy tale by the so -called Chairman of MACBAN in Plateau state, one Nura Muhammad which was corroborated by this hatched writer;
“The natives have been shouting that the Fulani should leave their ancestral lands. The entire Mangu Local Government was a complete Fulani dynasty called Butum Chiefdom where Ardo Dadude was used by colonial masters for indirect rule when they arrived Butum Chiefdom”.
He continued with his preposterous claims that “the descendants are today called non indigenes of the area founded by their grandfather and who are made to face different kinds of harassment, threats and intimidation”.
The very insulting and vexatious claims added that ” by the time the Fulani were in control of the land, the natives were on the hills and caves all over Plateau State with no single native on ground”. What a dubious narrative and wild propaganda.
Allowing this fiction and extreme provocation to go unchallenged can be harmful to future generations.
The Mwagavul whose existence where they presently live dates back to the early 18th century when they migrated from the Kanem Borno Empire to the area from 1700. Since their settlement in the largely plain savannah land, they were not known to have been conquered by either the colonial masters or the rampaging Fulani jihadists.
The Fulani adventures of 19th century were met with stiff resistance as their horses encountered superior horse power in the struggle for the marshy land which the Mwaghavul inhabited hence their nicknaming them “Sura”.
With cultural reawakening about 40 years ago, they reverted to their original Mwaghavul name which literally translated means “we are two” because for security purpose, the Mwaghavul man never went about alone but in group.
Even the colonialists who came to Mwagavul land in the early 20th century did not do so through conquest but by persuasion using the Missionaries who came into the land in 1904.
The relationship with the SIM ( Sudan Interior Mission) was mutually beneficial and the people are reaping the benefits of the Missionary presence through strong health and educational institutions in both Mwaghavul land and Pyem Chiefdoms.
We insist, the Fulani are by and large, a landless people who brook no rule of engagement. Historically, they do not understand the language of peace or negotiation either do they respect agreements. In their aggressive pursuit to take over our lands for grazing, they tried to wipe out everything on site.
Most importantly, they are cunny but are known cowards who do not usually engage themselves in frontal war with any group but operate a scotch- earth policy of hit and run.
All said, they have today, not only in Mwagavul land but in most parts of Plateau State, unwittingly turned themselves into unwanted guests.
As we continue to count our losses which we shall certainly emerge stronger and more emboldened, we enjoin all peace- loving Nigerians to join us in condemning the organised and systematic attacks on our peace- loving people by the wild Fulani invaders and aggressors who have been using all sorts of manipulation to turn our being victims of their carnage into the aggressors.
Director of Public Affairs,
Mwaghavul Development Association (MDA)