At the bottom of his angry and inciteful column piece last week, an apology was given to the reader for a quote that turned out to be a lie. But the apology did not come from the writer, our senior colleague, Dan Agbese himself. It was penned down by the young, Hausa-Fulani editor of the Daily Trust on Sunday, Lawan Danjuma Adamu.
Needless to say, this isn’t right. Dan Agbese did not mince words, spewing venom and hate, in the piece he entitled ‘Because of cows’. The entire article was based on a quotation attributed to the Chairman of the Miyetti Allah cattle breeders association of North central zone, Malam Danladi Ciroma. But the quote turned out to be a lie. The Fulani man never said a word of what was attributed to him. And the online medium that spread the lie, Premium Times, was quick to apologise and even sack its staff for reporting falsehood. But the damage had already been done and those who could not wait to hear the worst against their country men and act on it, quickly went to town with their comments and treatises on why blood-thirsty Fulanis are literally getting away with murder.
For Mr Agbese, it was not enough to write his condemnatory piece and accuse the government of inaction in arresting the massacre of innocent people by ‘Fulani herdsmen’, he had to drag in a renown Hausa-Fulani hater and castigator, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah. Ever since I first encountered him in the defunct Citizen magazine in the early 90s, I have found that every piece written by Bishop Kukah ends up being a tirade against the Hausa Fulani/ Muslim population of Northern Nigeria. Even when making public presentations, Matthew Hassan Kukah has a way of making every sermon an exercise in Hausa-Fulani bashing.
The speech reproduced by Dan Agbese, in last week’s column was no exception, it was Father Kukah at his Fulani-hating best. I really couldn’t believe my eyes when I read Agbese’s introduction of him as a man with ‘impeccable patriotic credentials’. If we were to take into consideration the numerous, divisive and hate-filled utterances made by Kukah, against the Hausa Fulani/Muslim population of Nigeria, we would know that he has no interest in keeping Nigeria one or peaceful. With a patriot like him, Nigeria does not need enemies.
Yet he was the one person Dan Agbese chose to quote to buttress his own exercise in hate speech. And all because of a lie, of a blood-thirsty claim that was never made. So the editor was polite enough, to say that Mr Agbese regretted using the quote, which was the life and soul of his venomous piece. But when will he condescend to make the apology himself?
I did not know Dan Agbese while he was in his prime, as a member of the team that started Nigeria’s first newsmagazine. I met him, in his seventies, when he became the Chairman of the Northern Media Forum, of which I am a member.
He came across as a level-headed, easy-going and soft-spoken man, who presided over our deliberations with great maturity. I was, therefore, more than a little disappointed to read his views in ‘Because of cows’.
Be that as it may, how can one justify the claim that the government is defending Fulani criminals? How many Fulani kidnappers have we seen arrested and paraded by the police especially along the Abuja Kaduna highway, was there any government intervention to free them? On the converse side how many of those arrested killer herdsmen, have turned out to be neither Fulani nor herdsmen but members of the very community they were terrorising?
A good case in point are the five men arrested over the murder of two priests and seventeen parishioners in Benue state recently. Each of these men was a Benue indigene with no Fulani affiliation. So again how do we justify the theory about this administration defending the Fulanis?
Bishop Kukah expressed a wish to cease to be Nigerian because people can no longer go to their farms or churches for fear of killer herdsmen, where was he when we couldn’t go anywhere without fearing for our lives because bombs were being blown all over the country by so-called insurgents? These people were so successful in their reign of terror, that they even excised a part of the Nigerian nation as their own and the government couldn’t stop them. Yet Kukah didn’t blame the Jonathan administration of failure to stop them or siding with the insurgents, indeed there was never a time when Bishop Kukah talked about ‘checking out.’ Why is it the best option now? Because a Hausa Fulani Muslim is in charge and it will be the best way to castigate him?
Thank God those of us who know Bishop Kukah know that he has none of the virtues that Agbese tried to make us believe he has. For those who are yet to encounter Kukah at his ethnic bigotry best, I refer you to his 2001 article ‘The Buhari agoniste and sundry matters’ it will show you the depth of hatred he harbours for the Hausa Fulani Muslim Nigerian, which he tries to hide through hypocrisy and false claims to having a national outlook. But we won’t be deceived after having seen right through him.
Which brings us back to the question; when will Dan Agbese apologise for using a lie to insult and accuse the Fulanis of what they didn’t do?