“I am the leader of Uthman Danfodio dynasty. I have never seen where in the hundred books that Uthman Danfodio said Nigeria belongs to the Fulani. What he wrote was the role of Islam in leadership, governance etc. He never mentioned of conquering any particular land or claimed ownership of any territory.
People make comments that Jihad is to Islamise every country, but I said no. Danfodio never came to Islamise any country, he preached against bad government.
That fake write-up was by those who don’t want peace in this country and we had denounced that. I am the National Patron of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN). It has been in existence for 44 years. There are two other organisations that I know, but others I don’t know. Please verify from us before you put blame on us”- Muhammadu S’aad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, February, 2020.
I commend His Eminence the Sultan of Sokoto for attempting to do damage control and douse the tension that was generated in the aftermath of the explosive statement by the Fulani Nationalist Movement (FUNAM).
However I respectfully disagree with him on his assertion that his highly esteemed ancestor and forefather, Uthman Dan Fodio, “never conquered or claimed ownership of any land” or that “he did not come to Islamise any country”.
I also beg to differ with him on his tacit implication that Miyetti Allah is peace-loving.
I believe that given what we have suffered in the hands of herdsmen, some of them murderous, who have come under their protective umbrella over the last five years, the opposite is actually the case.
Permit me to focus on Uthman Dan Fodio in this contribution and leave the activities of Miyetti Allah for another day. The facts are as follows:
In 1804 one of the most bloody jihads in African history was waged against the Hausa Habe Kingdom and people of the area that later became known as “northern Nigeria” by Sheik Uthman Dan Fodio.
He was primarily an Islamic scholar and the spiritual and military leader of the Fulani people who came in their hundreds of thousands from Futa Jalon and Futa Toro in modern-day Guinea to northern Nigeria and established Africa’s most powerful Islamic Caliphate.
So, to suggest that Dan Fodio was just a scholar and teacher that only wrote books, that never waged war and jihad and that never laid claim to and conquered parts of Nigeria is incorrect. Such an assertion can best be described as historical revisionism in its most brazen and repugnant form.
The truth is that Dan Fodio and his Fulani army not only indulged in jihad, but he also imposed his own salafist version of Islam on the people of core northern Nigeria while imposing Fulani emirs on them.
The only ethnic nationality that successfully stopped him and his Fulani army in the North were the strong Kanuris of the El Kanemi dynasty and empire in modern-day Borno State who warned him to steer clear of their territory and he did.
Finally, the only race that ever defeated the Fulani in open battle and thereby put a halt and full stop to their attempt to march down South and “dip the Koran in the Atlantic ocean” were the gallant sons of Oduduwa, led primarily by the Ibadan generals and military commanders, who defeated them in battle at Osogbo in 1840 and drove them back North.
They not only defeated them but they also publicly executed their allies and military commanders from Ilorin.
The Fulani have never succeeded in conquering the people of the South-West militarily and I make boast to say that they never will.
The recent statement credited to the Fulani Nationalist Movement, known as FUNAM who said that every inch of Nigeria belonged to them “from Sokoto to the banks of the Atlantic ocean”, that “Nigeria is the only inheritance we have in Africa and anywhere in the world” and that “this was the destiny bestowed on Uthman Dan Fodio which would have been fulfilled since 1816 if not for the obstruction of this great assignment by the British”, was simply an accurate and honest reflection of the mindset and ultimate vision of Usman Dan Fodio and other great Fulani leaders and Mahdi’s through the ages.
FUNAM went further to say, “It is no longer time to play the ostrich. Our men are waiting. We are eager to fight. We are boiling with the zeal to actualize our dream; enough of double dealing and ambivalence by FULANI political leaders who unfortunately think the FULANI can only take back what belongs to us through appeasement and elections destined to reflect cultural values antithetical to the preaching of Uthman Dan Fodio”.
We ignore and play down these incendiary words at our own peril.
I speak for millions when I say that the indigenous and oppressed people and ethnic nationalities of Nigeria have had enough of these open threats of tyranny and violence and neither are we interested in being vassals and slaves.
Had we listened to Colonel Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu and the Biafrans in 1967, considered their terrible plight and aligned with them during the civil war, things would have been very different today and we would not have been subjected to these infantile and provocative insults from the likes of FUNAM.
The bottom line is as follows: We either have a Nigeria where all men, regardless of ethnic nationality or faith, are regarded as equal before God and the law or we shall have no Nigeria at all. No-one can impose their will on us and neither can anyone intimidate us.
We do not seek war and neither do we relish or endorse any form of violence. We want peaceful co-existence and mutual respect. We want love, prosperity and progress for all and we offer it to those who wish us well and seek to do us no harm.
However if in a moment of madness we are ever attacked we shall stand firm and stand strong. We shall never retreat and neither shall we surrender.
We shall defend our people, we shall defend our land, we shall defend our honor and we shall defend our heritage.
We are not cowards and we shall never bend the knee or bow our heads to the tyranny of foreign invaders who erroneously believe that they were born to rule and that we were born to serve.
Permit me to conclude this contribution with the following:
Given what is going on in our country today and despite the laudable efforts of moderates such as the Sultan of Sokoto to diffuse the tension and rein in the more radical and hardline elements in the ranks of the Fulani, I am convinced of two things:
Firstly, that the call by many southern and Middle Belt leaders for restructuring is not only outdated but also too little, too late.
Secondly, if care is not taken, there is the likelihood that Nigeria will break into two or more pieces within the next five years.
Mark my words and remember them! The only way to prevent this from happening is for these vicious threats of gratuitous violence and Fulani adventurism and expansionism to stop and for the oppressors to start seeing the oppressed as equal partners and stakeholders in the Nigerian project. Without that, Nigeria is truly finished and will soon be history.
- Chief Femi Fani-Kayode is a former Minister of Aviation