Nigeria is a “tragedy descending into a farce”… With the deadly silence from those who unleashed Operation Crocodile Smile on the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) but who have refused to even utter a word on Fulani terrorists, the nation is encouraging self-help, which is a vital ingredient in genocide.


Since the Fulani terrorists’ siege on the South-West began, the words of Ken Menkhaus has kept ringing in my ears: “Where governments have become deeply complicit in criminal activities…perpetuation of state failure is essential for the criminal enterprise to operate.” To those of us who recognise the vast criminal enterprise that Nigeria has become and the racket being run, the federal and state governments’ silence in the face of a sovereign threat is not confounding. Expectedly, Nigerian lives and property are being traded for ambitions and political expediency. Elected officers sustained on public funds are playing games with peoples’ lives and allowing politics to complicate the diagnosis of, and the prescription for, an existential national dysfunction. When we get to the elastic limit, those who think they are sufficiently protected will realise their folly.

Long before now, Fulani herdsmen had earned their position as the fourth deadliest terror group in the world. Conveniently, the Nigerian government calls them bandits. The clever use of the word “bandits”, instead of terrorists, is a political choice. It is a form of delicate signaling that has become one of the constants of an insular political order, whose incestuous security architecture was designed to advance mediocrity and mollycoddle hegemonists. Insecurity is what greed and incompetence has brought us.

Faced with dwindling fortunes in the North-Central, Fulani terrorists have moved to the South-West, the economic nerve of the nation. Their strategy is working unhindered! They are having a boom while kidnapping for ransom, and there is more money per capita to be extracted and lush grazing fields to be appropriated. While we struggle with the tragic choice we face, the spectre of state failure stares us in the face as the government whose duty it is to protect us, acts unconcerned. As citizens, we are on our own. Those who have the power to turn the tide of anarchy are stoking it. Saboteurs are having a free reign through slaughter, dispossession and destructive competition for our land and natural resources. This is not scare mongering, as the kidnapping mayhem engulfing the South-West could end in state collapse, if unchecked. The playbook is not difficult to read at all. With ineffective and ethnicised security apparatuses, economic development becomes a mirage. Currently, there exists no political will to destroy terrorists and quash the kidnapping epidemic.

There are growing concerns that kidnapping has become a business. Rumours of the involvement of politicians and law enforcement for the money, are equally swirling. The Yoruba are in a quandary. And, the conspiratorial silence of eminent Yoruba traditional rulers, politicians and the sociocultural elite is deafening because many of them are owners of large herds of cattle.


Nigeria is a “tragedy descending into a farce”. The real motive for surrounding the South-West is territorial expansionism and the need for a cultural overrun. Kidnapping for ransom is the prelude to these. With the deadly silence from those who unleashed Operation Crocodile Smile on the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) but who have refused to even utter a word on Fulani terrorists, the nation is encouraging self-help, which is a vital ingredient in genocide. No one should be surprised if people mount counter-attacks to protect themselves and their land. There are growing concerns that kidnapping has become a business. Rumours of the involvement of politicians and law enforcement for the money, are equally swirling. The Yoruba are in a quandary. And, the conspiratorial silence of eminent Yoruba traditional rulers, politicians and the sociocultural elite is deafening because many of them are owners of large herds of cattle. So far, the cattle trade is a crucial link fueling the kidnapping, as many terrorists now use cattle as props.

What Do Terrorists Do With Ransom Money?

The money from kidnapping operations goes into funding the recruitment and indoctrination of new members, staging more brazen and deadlier attacks, buying Hilux vans and communication gear, paying remunerations and building training camps. If these violent actors meet no resistance, soon they will operate their own government, extract levies and taxes, institute Sharia law for violations – like the cutting of hands, stone those who give them offence to death, and carry out public executions of uncooperative community leaders, etc. Nothing stated above is an exaggeration. Do not think it can’t happen. We have seen these folks slaughter people like ram and throw them into pits, while executing emirs in Borno and Adamawa. Our heritage sites in Ife and Osogbo are in grave danger of desecration, as they have been known to plant landmines around sacred shrines and groves. In the interim, the food security of our people is threatened as many have abandoned their farmland to the terrorists; a situation that will eventually lead to hunger and disease.

There exists three options to breaking the yoke of kidnapping. That is: prevention, refusal to pay ransom and denying kidnappers access to their money. If the government cares about Nigerians, with access to cell phone towers, why can’t they locate, arrest and prosecute these terrorists? Why are they not working with financial institutions to freeze their asset?


Worldwide, kidnapping for ransom has become the most significant source of terrorist financing because it has proven very easy and successful. Every ransom paid gives more encouragement and incentive for further kidnapping. We have a vicious cycle of payments leading to future kidnappings, and future kidnappings leading to more payments on our hands. Breaking the cycle of kidnapping is the duty of government. As we have seen in the last two weeks, other than providing information, non-state actors can do very little. There exists three options to breaking the yoke of kidnapping. That is: prevention, refusal to pay ransom and denying kidnappers access to their money. If the government cares about Nigerians, with access to cell phone towers, why can’t they locate, arrest and prosecute these terrorists? Why are they not working with financial institutions to freeze their asset?

With one of their own as the president and with his reliable acquiescence, Fulani terrorists are creating a crucible of disaster in the South-West. It is definitely easier and faster to kidnap and get five million naira in ransom money than tend a calf for three years for barely two hundred thousand naira. That is if they own their herd and are not earning minimum wage for tending the herd. Be alert and be prepared to defend yourself and your land. The government does not care!

Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo