An interesting conversation
with an old friend
Editor’s note: In this piece, the former
minister of aviation and politician, Femi Fani-
Kayode gives reveals a conversation between
him and his old friend Muktari Shinkafi over
the gruesome killings by herdsmen in Agatu of
Benue state and Uzouwani of Enugu state.
The following discussion took place on my
Facebook friends page on May 2nd 2016.
Since it is already in the public realm I have
taken the liberty of.sharing it in my column
Though we have not seen much of each
other for a while I have known
Shinkafi for the better part of the last 35
years and we are more like brothers than
We spent a lot of time together in our youth
and in those heady and blissful days of the
early and mid-1980’s when I was still at
Cambridge University and when I spent most
of my leisure time playing polo at the Lagos
Polo Club or at the Guards Polo Club in the
U.K., eating caviar and drinking champagne.
We had great fun in those days and Nigeria
was a much better and happier place than it
At that time Lagos was something of a
melting pot and everybody that was anybody
in the country had a home there. These
were the days before Abuja was built and
Lagos was still our nations capital.
Most people were very comfortable then
because the naira was still strong at
approximately two naira to one dollar. It was
often the case that people would travel to
London, the South of France or the
Bahamas for long weekends with their loved
ones and be back in Lagos for Monday
morning. Then of course there was late
night chicken suya in Obalende which was
always a delight. I wonder if they still have
More importantly it really didn’t matter which
part of the country you came from or what
your religious faith was because nobody
cared in those days.
The only thing that mattered was whether
you had a good education, a good pedigree
and whether you had class. Whether you
were a northerner, a southerner, a christian
or a Muslim didn’t matter at all. Lagos was
home to all and we loved it.
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It was in that pleasant setting that Muktari
and I became close together with a large
number of other Polo Club buffs.
His older brother, a legend in intelligence
circles and in the world of spying, the former
head of Nigeria’s dreaded spy agency the
NSO, a much loved and revered elder
statesman and the former presidential
candidate of the defunct National
Republican Convention, Alhaji Umaru
Shinkafi, the Marafan Sokoto, brought me
into politics in 1989 and he was my leader
and political mentor for many years.
Simply put Marafan was like a second father
to me. He was a an arch-conservative and a
man of immense discipline and courage and
all of us at the Lagos Polo Club were in
absolute awe of him. When he walked in the
room with his head held up high there would
be pin drop silence as we all stood up.
We were his boys and we were all very
proud of that fact. I learnt everything from
him from the art of politics to the murky and
grey world of espionage.
In addition to that I had the distinct honor
and privilege of being appointed as his
Special Assistant in 1992 when he ran for
the presidency before General Ibrahim
Babangida banned him, General Shehu Musa
Yaradua (who was the presidential flag-
bearer for the rival Social Democratic Party)
and all the other “old-breed” politicians from
I have nothing but the deepest respect and
affection for the Shinkafi family and that
remains so till today. I was therefore
delighted when Muktari made his
contributions on my Facebook wall.
The conversation was prompted by the fact
that I posted some graphic pictures of the
victims of the Fulani herdsmen in Agatu and
Enugu. Those pictures can still be seen on
my Facebook friends page.
Muktari did not feel that it was appropriate
to post the pictures and the following
conversation took place between him and I
on the thread.
I believe that it was an interesting discussion
which brought out two distinct and separate
perspectives (if you like call them the
northern and southern ones) to the whole
issue of the Fulani herdsmen.
I believe that both sides have something to
learn from one another on this issue which
is why I chose to share it with my readers.
MUKTARI SHINKAFI wrote:
“Since we already have the Senate and House
of Representatives in place, it will be easier to
bring the issue next week of dividing Nigeria
immediately after the budget issue.
The division of the country should be
proposed based on six Geo-political zones
based on the following basis and natural /
human resources to sustain each zone.
1. South south oil, sea port,
2. South west, service industry, sea port,
3. South east . Oil,, commerce
4. Middle belt. Agriculture, solid minerals
5. North east. Oil, agriculture
6. North west. Oil, strategic solid minerals,
We in the north don’t deserve this negative
propaganda and name-calling.
Let us separate peacefully for the sake of our
children since even after the separation, we
will be surely bonded together by commerce
and personal relationship.
We have millions down there that we are
friends through business, marriages etc. I
don’t think posting these pictures is necessary
as no one is sure of their source, they may be
accident victims but some people are posting
them to propagate messages of hate among
FEMI FANI-KAYODE responded:
“Before I would post such pictures on my wall
I have to be certain of their authenticity and in
this case I am.
There are other pictures which are far worse
and which I cannot post here. My brother, your
people kill ours and we are not supposed to
even complain about it or let the world know
what is happening?
Enough of this madness. If the Fulani leaders
cannot reign in their herdsmen and terrorists
themselves then we will do it for them.
This barbarity has been going on in the Middle
Belt and core north for years unchallenged and
now you guys want to extend it to the south.
We will not take it, we will not allow it and we
will not sit by idly as your kinsmen slaughter,
rape and abduct our men, women and children
and occupy our land.
It has been going on for far too long and now
we are prepared to resist it. I agree with you
that maybe it is time that we begin to consider
the division of this country and the best way to
start is simply to let the core north go its
separate way first and leave the rest of us
Either that or a clean north/south break. We in
the south cannot be expected to continue to
live peacefully with what the Global Terror
Index has described as the first (Boko Haram)
and the fourth (Fulani militants/herdsmen)
most deadly terror organisations in the world.
They both come from the north and the so-
called northern leaders would do well to look
within, accept the fact that they have a major
problem with their youth and try to fix it.
What baffles me is that most northern leaders
are more concerned about the fact that these
atrocities are being exposed before the world
and evidence of it is being adduced than the
fact that people are being killed.
They are very comfortable with it when the
slaughter is being done in silence but when
we scream about it they get upset. This
strange and alien mindset is unacceptable to
If this rubbish goes on, sooner or later, the
south will rise up as one together with our
brothers in the Middle Belt and there will be a
I do not spread hate and I have no hate in me
for anyone or any ethnic group. The truth is
that, as you know, one eighth of the blood that
flows through my veins is Fulani. I cannot
You know very well that our leader and older
brother, the Marafan Sokoto, brought me into
politics in 1989 and I love him as if he were
Yet the north no longer has strong, decisive
and fair minded political leaders like Marafan
or gentle, kind, wise and accommodating ones
like President Shehu Shagari. That is the
problem. If Marafan was President today this
herdsmen problem would have been history
long ago and so would Boko Haram.
He would care as much for the south and the
safety of its people as he would have for the
north where he comes from. Yet how many
northern leaders think like that today?
As I wrote in my last column there are a few
like Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umar, Nuhu
Ribadu, Kashim Ibrahim Imam, Col. Sambo
Dasuki, Ibrahim Turaki SAN, Atiku Abubakar
and a few others but not many.
What is in me and millions of other
southerners and Middle Belters is not hate for
the Fulani or the core north but anger: a very
great and powerful anger that is growing by
We trusted and loved you like brothers for the
last 56 years but in recent times what have we
got in return except for suspicion, persecution,
misunderstanding, violence and pain. First it
was Boko Haram and now it is cold blooded
murder and the claiming of our lands by your
Nobody can take all that with a smile. Nobody
can tell us to take it all and keep quiet. You
are my brother and you always will be. We go
back such a long way and it pains me to write
Yet the truth is that if only the north could
change its attitude and leadership we could all
be one big happy family again.
Sadly though they will not because there are a
few northern leaders who relish all that is
happening today and who believe in the utter
crushing, destruction and subjugation of
everything and everyone south of the River
MUKTARI SHINKAFI replied:
“Honestly we the northerners have been at the
receiving end since the beginning of this
insurgency and Fulani herdsmen terrorism. If
the division of Nigeria will bring peace, we
wholeheartedly welcome the idea and the
sooner the National Assembly begins
deliberation the better.”
FEMI FANI-KAYODE responded:
“We both know that the National Assembly will
not do it because the northern legislators and
those that they represent are addicted to
We can do it without the National Assembly if
we so wish and the way things are going now
we are getting close to that final parting day.
All we have to do is to begin to mobilize our
people and tell them the benefits of going our
separate ways and breaking up the country.
I guess it is long overdue. When that day
comes the parting of ways will be peaceful if
the north lets us go in peace but if they try to
stop us it will not be so peaceful.”
MUKTARI SHINKAFI replied:
“I think the issue here is that you refused to
acknowledge the frustrations of all Nigerians.
We are all making these comments and
postings because of total failure of the APC
government to address critical challenges
facing the nation instead, its over one year
now but they are still associating their failure
to PDP which to me is a sign that they just
won the election without proper plan but
based on change propaganda.
Where are Bakassi boys, kidnappers and the
Niger Delta militants ? Since the government
cannot protect our brothers and communities
there, let them come out and protect its
people against these bandits (herdsmen).
They killed 25 people in my local government
10 days ago, stole grains and their valuables.
We resorted to use the vigilantes and our
young men to protect our farmers from the so
called herdsmen bandits from neighbouring
countries. Its time government take this issue
seriously and i believe our police, armed
forces and civil defence can take them out
squarely, grazing reserve will not solve the
problems because these criminals are not the
same Fulanis we knew years ago.
They used to live peacefully on Hausa
farmlands grazing their animals but today,
Hausas are their worst enemies.”
FEMI FANI-KAYODE responded:
“I acknowledge the fact that it happens in the
core north too but if the leaders and people of
the core north can live with it the rest of us
They have a duty to fight it and to put a stop
to it more than anyone else because these
beasts, militants and religious extremists that
call themselves Fulani herdsmen are their
They are their slaves and their serfs. The cows
that they are herding all over the country and
destroying peoples lives for belong to the
Fulani elites and not to the herdsmen or
The herdsmen are too poor to own the cows
and they do not have the resources to
purchase the AK 47’s that they carry around
and kill people with.
A Fulani herdsman with a gun
It is their sponsors, the Fulani elites that
provide all that and, together with the
government agencies, they also give them
protection and free passage. Since President
Buhari came to power they have been virtually
untouchable and so have their cows!
What you said about APC’s incompetence and
inability to run government is true though. The
APC more than anyone else used religion and
ethnicity to win power at the center.
They are not only the Boko Haram party but
also the Fulani herdsmen party. Even though
there are a few token and Uncle
Tom Christians in their midst they are
essentially like the banned Muslim
Brotherhood in Egypt.
They believe in the total and complete
domination of all other tribes by the Fulani
and they wish to Islamize our country.
That is their agenda and for the last ten
months we have witnessed it all unfold before
our very eyes. That together with the
obsessive drive to use the various security
agencies to discredit and destroy President
Goodluck Jonathan’s legacy and to ruthlessly
silence and persecute all dissenting voices.
I warned Nigerians during the presidential
campaign that this was their agenda but they
would not listen. Now they know better.”
The conversation ended there. My brother
Muktari did not respond to my final
contribution and we have not spoken since
then. Despite all I still cherish him and I
hope that we shall remain brothers even
after the great divide if it ever comes.
No matter what happens in the end I will
never forget those beautiful and youthful
days in Lagos when we were proud of our
rainbow nation, when we were all one and
when tribe, faith and tongue did not matter