There is every cause for concern with regard to the proposed “Free Entry Visa” Policy for all Africans, announced recently by Major General Muhammed Buhari, Nigeria’s maximum leader. Very instructive is the fact that General Buhari chose to make the announcement during his visit to Egypt, an arch-Arab Muslim country in the Horn of Africa, with history of violent religious fundamentalism of some world’s most deadly terrorist groups with Islamic matrix. At this time of serious security challenges for Nigeria, the nation’s three arms of government, executive, legislature and judiciary need to be very circumspect in matters of security and immigrations, whether within, into or from the country by foreign nationals.
Yes, it is true that Nigeria is a frontline promoter of “African Free Trade Treaty”, and a major player for African continental integration. Yet, the security of Nigerians and the country takes precedence in matters of this kind. The nation’s security takes priority. The fact is that, from the situation on the ground today on security matters in the country, Nigeria does not need the proposed ‘Free Entry Visa’ Policy. Even the proposed “Visa on-arrival” by the Ministry of Immigration and Presidency need to be reviewed and possibly, suspended until security situation improves in the country.
Already, the Constitution, other Laws of the land, and Immigration Acts have sufficient provisions on these matters. One wonders why this additional policy of ‘Free Entry Visa’ to all Africans this time around? Moreover, what makes it so urgent now that the country is facing a kind of security challenges it never experienced since the end of the genocidal Nigeria-Biafra War (1967-1970)?
Another thing is the speed with which General Buhari made the pronouncement without any recourse to the National Assembly. Knowing that the legislative arm of the government may need some ample time to study and deliberate on the proposal as a bill when the Presidency transmits it to them for domestication into the law of the land. Although the General as head of state has right to make executive pronouncement while on foreign tours, such pronouncements, however, do not translate into laws immediately. They do not become biding until passed into laws and domesticated through a sponsored bill in the National Assembly.
If the proposed ‘Free Entry Visa’ policy is to come into effect this January 2020, as General Buhari had announced, then tell me, what time have the National Assembly to deliberate on it, domesticate and pass it into law? This means there is a sinister agenda in the whole saga surrounding the proposed ‘Free Entry Visa’ to Nigeria for all Africans!
In rushing to Egypt to make announcement of the ‘Free Entry Visa’ to all Africans coming to Nigeria, the President simply ignored the National Assembly. Perhaps, he knew that the current National Assembly leadership (described as ‘rubber-stamp’), would eventually pass into law such obnoxious policy of ‘Free Entry Visa’, once the Presidency transmits it to them? We stand to be corrected!
In fact, the whole thing about the proposed ‘Free Entry Visa’ is loaded with suspicion and ulterior motive of this regime. For instance, not long ago, the same Major General Muhammadu Buhari regime suspended the ECOWAS Treaty, which had allowed free trade, movement of persons and goods among the citizens of member-nations of the West African Economic Community. Not only that, but the regime went ahead and closed the Southern Nigerian borders, which share boundaries with those ECOWAS’ countries of indigenous African populations of West Africa, such as Ghana, Benin Republic, Togo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Senegal, etc.
This is happening at a time the same Buhari regime decided to relax and left open, the porous Northern Nigeria’s borders with Niger Republic, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, Northern Cameroun, Morocco, Sudan, Libya, etc., indeed, the Sahel countries, with majority Fulani Arab ethnic populations. In other words, while the Southern borders are closed, the Northern borders are not! Yet, we claim we live in the same country; or rather, that we are equal citizens of the same country, Nigeria? What a deception?
Thus, in addition to the Northern Nigerian porous borders left opened for all Fulanis and Muslims from the neighbouring West African countries and Sahel region, the Buhari led-regime is now to throw open all the borders of Nigeria to all African Fulanis, Muslims and Arabs (including Islamist fundamentalists), from the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. This is the meaning of the regime’s new ‘Free Entry Visa’, which Buhari announced during his last visit to Egypt, an arch-Arab Muslim country!
It is like saying, this regime is about to wage a demographic war and open Jihad against the populations of indigenous ethnic-nationalities and Christian communities in Nigeria? Only time will tell!
All this shows why the proposed ‘Free Entry Visa’ policy announced by General Buhari is really, a great cause for worry for people of good conscience, in and outside Nigeria! It is worrisome also because, General Buhari’s ‘Free Entry Visa ‘policy is coming at the hills of the ongoing security challenges facing the country, namely: the murderous activities of the deadly Islamist terror group, Boko Haram, whose base is in the North East region. Added to it, are the Fulani killer-herdsmen, a group of Fulani bandits, Islamists, militias and cattle-herders, which many believe is an offshoot of Boko Haram. Both terror groups have their base and matrix in Northern Nigeria Sharia States, and in radical Islamist fundamentalists’ ideology. Their members and sympathizers are also ethnic irredentists and indoctrinated Islamist religious bigots.
Till recently, only the Boko Haram Islamists used to receive much attention and publicity in international media and discourse on religious fundamentalism and terrorism in Nigeria. But while their activities are localized mainly in North East geopolitical zone, those of Fulani killer-herdsmen spread across the length and breadth of Nigeria. Moreover, the targets of the killer-herdsmen are mainly Christian communities – regions of indigenous ethnic populations of the Middle Belt and Southern States of Nigeria. As former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Rtd. General T.Y. Danjuma (former Defence minister), had pointed out, the killer-herdsmen, in particular, are foot-soldiers for the actualization of the ongoing Fulanization and Islamization project of this regime – alleged ‘secret’ agenda of present administration to Islamize and Fulanize Nigeria. We shall return to this point.
Very disturbing is that the terrorist activities of Fulani Killer-herdsmen and bandits across the land assumed a crescendo level from the moment Buhari assumed power in 2015. The federal government have ever since kept mute over the terrorist activities of this group. This prompted some prominent individuals, e.g., General T.Y. Danjuma, to accuse the federal government and security agencies of colluding with the terror groups and facilitating their movements and terror activities across the length and breadth of Nigeria. In fact, the federal government tacit support and complicity of silence over the activities of the Fulani killer-herdsmen, in particular, is the most worrisome.
These killer-herders, armed with AK47, roam around the villages, farmlands, towns and streets of indigenous populations and Christian communities of Middle Belt and Southern states of Nigeria, unhindered and unchecked by security agents and federal government. They are like sacred cows in Nigeria under the watch of the present regime of General Buhari. They kill, maim, rape women, burn churches, houses, and destroy villages and farmlands. Nowadays, they are notorious in kidnapping innocent citizens, especially priests and visiting Diasporans, etc., collecting ransoms from relatives of their victims before agreeing to release them.
They do all these at will, without any fear of apprehension from the government in power and security forces. Nobody dares touch them without incurring the wrath of the power that be, federal government or security agencies, and of course, Miytti Allah Fulani Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (sponsors of the Fulani-herdsmen themselves). In other words, the killings, raping of women, burning of churches, destruction of villages and farmlands, and kidnappings of innocent Nigerians across the country perpetuated by the Fulani Killer-herdsmen and bandits, go on and on, unchecked. They do all these things and the security forces – military, police and the federal government look the other way!
Most often, they receive open military and police protection and logistics as well as federal government’s financial support as they wrath havoc across the land.
Another disturbing aspect of this unfortunate situation is that since the present regime of General Buhari came to power in 2015, people have complained bitterly, that the administration is not sincere with the way it has been handling the issue of Fulani herdsmen terrorist activities as well as that of Boko Haram in the country. Yet the administration seems to have another priority instead of addressing sincerely the security challenges, which is the most disturbing reality of the Nigerian state today! It is no longer secret to say that Nigeria’s two most deadly Islamist terror groups, Boko Haram and Fulani Killer-herdsmen have links with other Muslim Fundamentalist groups operating in the Sahel region of West and North Africa as well as those from the Maghreb, Horn of Africa and Arab regions of the Middle East.
Again, since this regime of General Buhari came on board in 2015, neither the officials of the Miyetti Allah Fulani Cattle Breeders’ association (sponsors of the Fulani killer-herdsmen), nor the Fulani herders and invaders themselves (bandits), have been apprehended, prosecuted or imprisoned by security agencies and the law of the land. This informs the fear of many that the present federal government may have a hand in what is going on. Yet the government is silent, doing practically nothing to checkmate the terror group or listen to the cry of the traumatized populations. The Fulani herdsmen and their Miyetti Allah sponsors know they have free hands and protection of the government at the centre. That is why they have been carrying out all those killings and carnage in the land with arrogance and reckless abandon, unchecked.
Therefore, the federal government complicity of silence, body language and inaction, each time the Fulani killer-herders wrath havoc in any part of the country, says a lot than can be imagined. The present regime can hardly say, it doesn’t know what is going on concerning the murderous terrorist activities of these Fulani herdsmen and the occult sponsorship of the group by Miyetti Allah.
This is why people of good conscience should be worried about the proposed ‘Free Entry Visa’. The ‘Free Entry Visa’ policy is coming at a time Nigerians are worried about the large influx of many Fulanis and their foot-soldiers killer-herdsmen into the country from the neighbouring West African countries and the Sahel region (with majority Fulani population). These include; Mali, Niger Republic, Chad, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Libya, Morocco, Northern Cameroun, and some from Central Africa Republic, Sudan, etc.
This is the present situation of security challenges in Nigeria. Unfortunately, the federal government response to the security challenges is to announce the proposed ‘Free Entry Visa’ for all Africans coming to Nigeria, which includes those from countries and regions where Muslim fundamentalists and terrorists operate, such as regions of West African Sahel, North African Maghreb and Horn of Africa.
This is why many people of good conscience are questioning the motive behind this obnoxious policy announced by President Buhari during his recent to Egypt? What actually, does Buhari regime intends to achieve by this policy, especially this point in time, in Nigeria’s over-charged history?
Here I would like to emphasize just two consequences that may result, should General Buhari regime go ahead with the proposed ‘Free Entry Visa’ Policy:
1. Jihad in making in Nigeria Today to change the demographic Contours.
2. The new ‘Free Entry Visa’ policy will boomerang.
1. Jihad in Making in Nigeria Today:
In the first place, if allowed, the proposed Free Entry Visa for all Africans coming to Nigeria will no doubt alter the demographic population contours of Nigeria’s indigenous ethnic-nationalities across the land. This is nothing other than Jihad. The targets are the indigenous ethnic-nationalities of the Christian regions and communities of the Middle Belt, and Old Eastern, Western and Mid-Western regions of Southern Nigeria (present Southeast, Southwest and South-south geopolitical zones). On the danger list, also are the minority indigenous ethnic-groups, non-Hausa-Fulanis in the North, who have all along resisted assimilation into Fulani Caliphate domination.
Furthermore, if allowed, the new Free Entry Visa policy will signal the requiem, indeed, the death of cultural and religious identities of all the non-Fulani ethnic-nationalities in Nigeria named above. It will signal the much-feared cultural and religious wars against the peoples of indigenous ethnic nationalities and Christian communities of Middle Belt and Southern states of Nigeria. This is something these vulnerable and short-changed groups (indigenous ethnic-nationalities of the Middle Belt and Southern states) in the British contraption called Nigeria, have all along complained about. It became worse, especially, since Buhari assumed power as President in 2015. However, it has always been there, since the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Protectorates of Nigeria by the British in 1914.
Furthermore, judging from the history of radical Islamists and Arab conquest or wars against indigenous African populations in the Maghreb and Sahel regions during the early centuries’ Arab invasion of Africa, the end-result of which had always remained the same: to alter and change the demographic contours of local populations of the natives of the land. This naturally leads to total annihilation of cultural and religious identities of the indigenous ethnic-nationalities concerned. It usually, starts with ethnic-cleansings of the indigenous populations and Christian communities in those areas. Thus, by choosing Egypt as the place to make the announcement for the ‘Free Entry Visa’, President Buhari, was playing to the gallery. What was at work is actually, the medieval mind-set and strategy used by Arab Muslims in the conquest of North Africa, Maghreb, and the Sahel in the past centuries’ Arab Muslim invasion of Africa.
Today, nobody remembers again that there was once, in those countries of North Africa, Maghreb and Sahel regions, thriving indigenous African populations with their great indigenous culture, tradition, language, and religion. In most of those places, black Africans and Christians, were not only eliminated by the Muslim Arab invaders, they also lost their African culture and religion to Arabic and Islamic culture and religion. Today, everything in those regions is Arabic and Islamic in culture or religion. This happened, thanks to Arab Muslim militants’ and Janjaweed’s style of invasion of those regions of Africa in the early seventh century, and especially, during the medieval and nineteenth centuries’ Arab Muslim Jihad in North Africa, Maghreb, and the Sahel region of West Africa.
This is exactly what the present regime of Major General Buhari wants to do in Nigeria by encouraging mass migration into the country of Fulanis and all Arabs from the neighbouring West African countries, Sahel, Maghreb, and Horn of Africa as well as the Middle East. With the proposed ‘Free Entry Visa’ policy, General Buhari is invariably, inviting all Fulanis and Arab Muslims throughout Africa to migrate into Nigeria and resettle there as their new abode in perpetuity in the continent.
This ugly development is worrisome because, both General Buhari himself and his Fulani ethnic-nationality in Nigeria, share the same Arabic culture and Islamic religion with the Arabs of Sahel, Maghreb, and the Horn of Africa regions as well as those of the Middle East. It would mean that sooner, or later, Nigeria may become not only the most populous Black African nation-state, but also one with the highest concentration of Fulanis and Arab Muslims in Africa, South of Sahara. Could it be that General Buhari wants to make Nigeria, a kind of a new ‘haven’ – a new enclave for all the Fulani-Arabs and Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa?
Is Buhari towards the fulfilment of the promise of Usman dan Fodio, founder of the Sokoto Caliphate in Northern Nigeria? Usman dan Fodio had vowed during his time that, “Quran must be dipped into the Atlantic Ocean of Southern Nigeria.” Is this what we are witnessing today under the watch of General Buhari, a descendant of the Sokoto Caliphate from Daura Emirate in Northern Nigerian Sharia state of Kastina?
This means that what is happening presently in Nigeria under the watch of this regime of General Buhari is ethno-religious war, a Jihad directed against Christian communities and indigenous ethnic populations, majority of whom are from the Middle Belt and Southern states of the country. They include also the minority indigenous ethnic-groups and Christian communities in the core Northern Sharia states. In fact, because of this last group, most of the terrorist attacks in the North, for example, concentrate mainly, in North East geopolitical zone, as well as in Southern Kaduna, and parts of Zamfara and Sokoto states, where majority of the people are Christians. These are people, whose ancestors have all along resisted assimilation by the Sokoto Caliphate. Majority of the Christians in the North come from these minority ethnic-groups and areas. They have lived there as minorities since Usman dan Fodio invasion, reduced them to almost second-class citizens in their own ancestral land.
Again, one is worried over these developments because, all those regions of West African Sahel, North African Maghreb, Horn of Africa and the Middle East, that are to benefit from the proposed ‘Free Entry Visa’ policy, serve as headquarters of world’s most deadly Islamists’ terrorist groups and extremist fundamentalists: Al Qaeda, ISIS, Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, Fulani Killer-herdsmen, among others. These are the groups and people General Buhari, has told, Nigerian borders are thrown opened for them through the proposed ‘Free Visa Entry’ policy. This means that in no distant time, Nigeria will be over-populated, overrun, and controlled wholesale, by Arab and Fulani migrants with their deadly Islamists’ terror groups. In this case, Nigerian situation, in no distant time, will be worse than that of Somalia and Afghanistan.
The regions of Nigeria, Usman dan Fodio and his group could not penetrate or conquer in the 19th and early 20th centuries, is what the present regime of Buhari is trying to conquer by whatever means available, for Fulanis and Arabs across Africa and the Muslim world. To achieve this, the regime of general Buhari resorted to the usual tactics – the style, Sudanis Islamist Janjaweed (sponsored by defunct Khartoum government of Al Bashir), applied in Darfur in the 1990s.
This is what is taking place in Nigeria today under the watch of the present regime of General Buhari. If not checked and stopped, it may sooner or later, metamorphose into a full-blown Jihad against Christian communities and populations of indigenous ethnic-nationalities in Nigeria.
2. The new ‘Free Entry Visa’ Policy will Boomerang:
Another thing that needs said is that the proposed ‘Free Entry Visa’ policy may eventually boomerang. It is going to be counter-productive. In other words, free fall in the influx into Nigeria of all African Fulanis and Arab Muslims will backfire. Make no mistake about it. This is why Major General Buhari regime needs to rescind on the decision and save the nation from further bloodshed and protracted wars, that nobody may predict where it would lead us or how it could end!
The fact is that General Buhari led-regime is making a great mistake by congregating all the African Fulani herdsmen militias and their Arab Muslim neighbours into Nigeria. This is independent of whether they settled to stay and live in Northern Nigeria, or in any other part of the country. In whichever case, this regime is making a very big mistake.
In short, by so doing, General Buhari led-regime is making their Fulani brethren vulnerable to ethnic-cleansings, anywhere they may resettle them in any part of Southern and Middle Belt regions of Nigeria. In addition, the proposed ‘Free Entry Visa’ policy will heighten the growing resentment against Fulanis among Nigerians, wherever they may reside in the country or outside the shores of Nigeria. That is, should the present regime at Abuja order them to begin slaughtering any indigenous population in any part of Nigeria today! Should the government also begin to erect permanent houses of abode or RUGA for them anywhere in the country, especially, in the Middle Belt and Southern states.
That makes it easy for retaliatory attacks by the wounded indigenous populations on the Fulanis, no matter where they (Fulanis), may be resettled in any part of the country. Naturally, any RUGA, Fulani settlement anywhere in the country becomes the easiest target for retaliatory attacks on the part of the indigenous populations.
Moreover, the Fulani Killer-herdsmen militias’ settlement or RUGA, whether in the forests or in the wounded indigenous people’s neighbourhood, will be targets of retaliatory attacks too, should any war begin today between the indigenous populations and the invading Fulani herdsmen Islamists in any part of the country. No matter the amount of weapons or ammunition General Buhari led-regime, military and police support given them, there is no way the wounded indigenous populations would not find a means of retaliating against the invading Islamist militias.
Yes. It is true that to pave way for the Fulani herdsmen militias’ attacks and killings on the natives, General Buhari regime ordered the Nigerian Police to ban indigenous populations from owning any ammunition, including hunters’ guns. However, that worked at the early stages of this Fulani killer-herdsmen encroachment, and because of that, Fulani militias and Islamists succeeded in the ethnic-cleansings they carried out at Agatu in Benue State, Uzo-Uwani in Enugu State, among the Beroms of Plateau State, in the Southern Kaduna, and in other places in the last four fives. But since then, various wounded indigenous Ethnic-nationalities of Middle Belt and Southern states of Nigeria (targets of the killer-herdsmen attacks), have learnt their lessons. Let those Fulani Killer-herdsmen militias try those nonsense again today in any of those places, I assure you, they will meet their match!
The Major General Buhari led-regime may think that by banning indigenous populations from owning any ammunition or guns, the natives will continue to fold their arms and watch their women, men and children killed in cold blood by the invading Fulani herdsmen Islamists, militias and terrorists. It will be stupid for any people to sit down and watch their people exterminated and wiped out from the face of the earth by state sponsored terror groups, Boko Haram or Fulani Killer-herdsmen militias. This is 21st century. People have passed that stage of staying at home, watch an invading primitive army or bandits take over their ancestral homeland; kill their people without any fiercer resistance from the indigenous populations themselves?
One would have thought that Major General Buhari led-regime should have learnt from Nigeria’s past-experiences of intra-ethno-religious hostilities and conflicts, especially, the genocidal Nigeria-Biafra War (known also as Biafra war); what happened to the Federal Troops at the famous “Abagana Sector”, in Biafraland during the war? The point we want make here is that God has his own way of saving a persecuted people. The resilience of a persecuted people, was seen, for example, during the Nigeria-Biafra War. In spite of the federal government Blockade and starvation imposed on Biafra, Biafrans themselves were able to survive, with bare hands, the three-year Federal Troops bombardment of Biafraland.
Furthermore, in spite of the federal government Blockade and Starvation policy against Biafra, the Biafrans’ lack of ammunition, yet, the people of Biafra through their natural ingenuity and principle of necessity, were able to manufacture the famous “Ogbunigwe” (also known on the other side as, ‘Ojukwu bucket’). With the “Ogbunigwe”, the Biafran soldiers were able to hold standstill for three years, the two Cold-war Super Powers, British and Russian military forces (former USSR), as well as Egyptian Arab soldiers, military Jets and pilots’ led-Nigerian Troops.
The question is, ‘What of if similar situation arises anywhere in Nigeria today?’ With modern technological and scientific advancement, no ethnic group in Nigeria today, should think it has all it takes to decimate any or the rest of the other ethnic groups in the country. That would be daydreaming. Even if you think, you can subdue the population of the group living at home, what of their kinsmen and women in the Diasporas?
It will be stupid for anybody to think that those in Diasporas will fold their arms and watch the state-sponsored marauding Fulani-herdsmen militias and other terrorist groups or Islamists from all over Africa and Arab world, invade their ancestral homeland, kill their people, rape their women, burn their churches, kidnap their priests, and so on, and yet do nothing? No way! This means that any attack today anywhere in Nigeria carried out by the invading Fulani herdsmen militias and Jihadists, will have far-reaching consequences on both sides.
Therefore, one can only advice General Buhari led-regime to rethink and retrace its steps on this issue of ‘Free Entry Visa’. It is as dangerous as it is counter-productive. The country is already over heated, and continuing with the ongoing influx of Fulani herdsmen militias and congregating all Arab Islamists into the country, is too dangerous, to say the least.
Fr. Francis Anekwe Oborji is a Roman Catholic Priest, a Professor Ordinarius of contextual theology at the Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome. Italy.
Disclaimer: The opinion expressed in this article is solely the responsibility of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. The image is taken from the internet and assumed to be in the public domain. If this breaches the copyrighted material, kindly note that the break of the copyright is not intentional and non-commercial. The copyrighted material in question will be removed upon request and presentation of proof in that case, please contact me via the following email: email@example.com