We are Grateful
By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde
In my last update on the evicted Fulani communities are facing in Plateau State, I highlighted the humanitarian problems they were facing of lack of food and shelter. Up to 40 hrs after they started to reach the camps, no aid has started reaching them.
I am glad to say that, seeing the delay from the Plateau State government in delivering relief materials to the now three camps at Dogo, Diyan and Rim, the Special Task Force (STF) went out of its way to purchase and deliver humanitarian aid to the IDPs. By yesterday noon, the convoy left the headquarters along with the Commandant, Major-General Henry Ayoola and many journalists. On our part, we decided that Saleh Bayari should follow them while we stay back in Jos to buy relief materials from the contributions we were anticipating would come, following the publication of my account number and the GSM number of Saleh Bayari and those of other members of the committee of seven that we set up to handle donations from respondents.
The convoy of the STF reached Dogo, the first camp in Barikin Ladi LGA. A Surprise: The Fulani rejected the relief materials. It took the intervention of Saleh Bayari who explained that the relief was not coming from the state government before they reluctantly accepted it. The reception was colder in Diyan. Saleh later told us that he had to go mad before they could be controlled. They dumped the relief materials and left.
Back in Jos, we were able to buy food stuff of N258,800.00. We got the escort of an STF vehicle around 3.00pm and set out for Diyan and Rim immediately. We cleared with the STF convoy just some 2 kilometers to the Diyan camp, after driving through the mountainous narrow community feeder road. When we reached Diyan, we were greeted with the same rejection slogan, “Ba ma so, Ba ma so.” I was able to convince the leaders to accept the relief after briefing them on the source of the funding. They have earlier interacted with me during the aborted NSA's reconciliation effort of 2010. I called three of the leaders to a meeting at a mosque and they obliged. “This is coming from other Nigerians sympathetic to your cause; it will not help you to reject it”, I explained. With such persuasion, they agreed to henceforth accept whatever we bring them.
We left them quickly for Rim, a place east of Makaho that is difficult to reach through Diyan. Just before the camp at the nomadic school there, we met the large STF truck packed by the riverside and some soldiers wandering around it. We three times attempted cross the river with our smaller truck but to no avail. We even gave it a hand but the surface at the bank across was too slippery. The truck just could not mount. I was surprised that none of the soldiers assisted us. They were just watching and laughing. So we decided to trek the rest of the distance to the camp, just about a kilometer away, fortunately, and left the soldiers at the river.
We were greeted by protest of youths and women. They too have refused to collect the relief of the STF. I pitied the Major whom I met there. He looked helpless. I ignored the shouts and greeted the Ardo, whom I also met a couple of times previously, including when we went to convince them to evacuate their homes some two days before. After shaking him, I passed through the crowd and met the Major standing helplessly by the side of his green Toyota-Hilux car. “So what is going on here”, I asked him. He replied, “We are trying to negotiate acceptance of the relief with them.” I felt sad but maintained my cool, surprisingly.
I demanded that I meet the Ardo aside. As we started talking, the youths came over and continued with their protest. The Ardo himself did not sound more reasonable in his speech. As he was trying to convince me on their rationale behind rejecting the STF relief, a woman in the crowd collapsed some meters behind us. The villagers said she has died. We suspended the negotiation and attended to the woman. A medical doctor confirmed that she was alive. It was hypoglycemia, he said. I forgot to ask what happened to her later. Did they give her glucose or did he die? I do not know.
After the scene was over, we continued our discussions with the crowd, moving from one circle to another. I did not bother to find the Ardo anymore. In the end, the youths understood that our trip was different from that of the STF. suddenly, many of them started running down to the river to push the truck this side. Had the soldiers given us a hand, we would not have wasted so much time. The suspicion that it was the same Fulani that fought them ten days earlier was still fresh in their minds. I do not blame them. But as peacekeepers, I just thought they would have been more cooperative. May be I was mistaken.
Anyway, our relief was downloaded and packed in the mosque. The Major left disappointed through Mahanga, while his people carrying the STF relief that could not cross the river and our escort returned with their trucks through the Diyan road. We were to meet them later around 7.30pm at Mahanga Junction along the road to Kura Falls.
I suspect that there was more than met our eyes in the protest of the Fulani in the camps. If the relief was not brought that day, they would have had a perfect reason to return to their houses; after all, the impression that the operation would only last for two days was still fresh in their minds. Accepting the relief would dispossess them of that alibi.
Before we left Rim, I told their Imam and some elders there to use their brain and not their heart in taking any decision regarding their return to their homes and that they must not toe the line of the youth and women. I also reminded them that it is their responsibility to remain resolute on what is wise and get their followers to abide by that. Resolve is among the primary responsibilities of a leader. Otherwise, I warned them, God will hold them responsible for any life lost as a result of any foolish decision they may allow their followers to take.
As we returned to Jos around 9.00pm, a rumour spread among the IDPs that the soldiers have told Ardo Luggere that the Fulani can return to their homes. I was driving home when a staff of DW called me for clarification. I said it was a lie.BThey following morning we were able to call the Ardos and advise them to return to the camps. By noon, they have complied with the advice.
Here the soldiers impressed me. They did not confront the Fulani when they disobeyed the evacuation order. That would have led to something disastrous. Maturity, foresight, patience and understanding are required in situations like this. The soldiers on ground, unlike their escort counterparts earlier at the river bank, really exhibited those qualities in abundant measure.
We started receiving donations within an hour of publishing the request on some Facebook groupsyesterday morning. The following is the list of the eighteen deposits made in the GTB account given from readers between yesterday and today. (the details of the account and members of the committee was given in his publication: http://fridaydiscourse.blogspot.com/2012/07/short-essay-37-relief-for-fulani.html)
Jinjiri Murtala (N10,000)
Umar Sani (N40,000)
Aminu S. Mikailu (N50,000)
Muazu Adamu Mohammed (N10,000)
Usman Jibrin (N10,000)
Othman Suleiman T. (N5,000)
Abba K. (N250,000)
Ibrahim Ishaq Jae (N5,000)
Umar Fatihu Adamu (N2,000)
Prof. A.G. Yahaya (N20,000)
Shonoiki, Ganiu Olawale (N7,000)
Abdullahi, Adam (N5,000)
Nasiru Yaro (N10,000)
Abubakar, Adamu Tukur (N20,000)
Kashir Inu (10,000)
Adamu Babayo (N5,000)
Ibrahim Ahmed Tijjani (N50,000)
Mrs. Agoje H. S. (N20,000)
The relief expenditure we made yesterday was:
Rice 10 Bags@N9,300= N93,000
Sugar 4 Bags@N9,500 = N38,000
Salt 2 bags@N1,900 = N3,800
Maggi 2 cartons @N4,800 = N9,600
Vegetable oil 2 Jerry cans @N6,900 = N13,800
Palm oil 2 Jerry cans @N7,500 = N15,000
Lipton 2 cartons @N9,000 = N18,000
Milk 2 bags @N19,000 = N38,000
Bread = N5,000
Sachet water 30 bags @N80 = N2,400
Polythene hut covers (leda) 40 pieces @N350 = N14,000
Bar soap and detergent (Omo) = N8,200
Transport = N20,000
TOTAL = N278,800.00
Balance = N250,200.00
We will continue to update readers with the expenditure we make on this project from their donations.
Alhamdulillah. We are grateful to those who donated. May God reward them abundantly in this world and the next!
“Whatever good you do, God is aware of it.”