For several months now, Nigerians have watched with amazing docility, somnolence, and helplessness as Fulani “herdsmen” rampage several communities across the nation laying waste lives and property with impunity and reckless abandon.
They have terrorized the middle belt, sacked several communities and decimated their population, in the manner of ethnic cleansing. They have equally touched parts of Kogi, Nasarawa and Southern Kaduna and have brazenly spilled over, unrestrained; into communities in the border area of Enugu State in the Eastern States and parts of the South West. These unmistakable jihadists are armed to the teeth and would brook no challenges.
For decades, we have been very familiar with real herdsmen who carried sticks across their shoulders with which they whipped straying cows back into line; some with bows and arrows to scare away predators. They were never known to have scarred or attacked any community, and vice-versa, and dutifully withdrew their flocks when they invaded farmlands. Today’s brand of “herdsmen” suddenly surfaced with the emergence of the Buhari administration armed with lethal weapons and have been so emboldened in their horrendous, satanic adventure as if to say “we dare you”.
Several questions have beggared answers, as there are also several corollaries regarding the identity and operations of these murderers. Where do they come from and who is/are behind them? Who arms them with the sophisticated weapons they fearlessly brandish unchallenged? Why are the nation’s security outfit incapable (nay, unwilling) to clamp down on them? And WHY, WHY is the President (the Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria’s Armed Forces, and by implication, the chief security officer of the nation) unwilling to take the desired action to protect the lives and property of his citizens, which he swore to do.
In a mawkish manner, the President had initially told the world that the killers were invaders from across Nigeria’s boarders. He had identified them as remnants of Gaddafi’s rag-tag militia, yet he refused to check foreign invaders ravaging his country. Later, these sons of Satan were said to be mere herdsmen who were looking for grazing ground for their cattle, and their slaughter was branded herdsmen/farmers clash. Indeed!! Looking for grazing ground inside residential villages, mowing down infants, school children, pregnant women, the aged and the infirmed and burning down their houses? Grazing ground inside churches, spilling the blood of innocent Christian worshippers? Grazing ground on the altar of God, cutting down innocent, unarmed, peace-loving shepherds of God’s flock? Surely, the dummies cannot sell.
The President has stuck to his guns not to do the needful under the circumstance, in defiance of the expectations of the world. His body language speaks volumes. He would not feed the killers with the same pills he fed a group of unarmed, nonviolent pro-Biafra agitators. The law of equity here cries out loud.
This question refuses to be silenced: who arms these blood thirty vampires? Why is the police looking the other way while these blood sucking demons traverse the length and breadth of the country wielding branded military weapons, unchallenged? What has become of the prohibition of the illegal possession of firearms? Or does the law not affect Fulani herdsmen? Or could it be that the Automatic Kalashnikov (AK 47s) in their possession do not infringe this laws?
Bob Dylan posited that “you do not need to be a weatherman to know where the wind is blowing. “Against the back drop of their unwillingness to disarm these “herdsmen,” why have the police ordered a nation-wide mop-up of all fire-arms in people’s possession, licensed and unlicensed? Even community vigilante groups, legally constituted and recognized, were not excluded. To say the least, this action is alarming. What is it in aid of? Are we supposed to be sitting ducks, in the event of an invasion by these marauders and other hoodlums? Indeed, it is scary to contemplate.
Conspiracy of silence, they say, is a dangerous phenomenon in human relations. The presidency has been evasive in its response to the call to see these “herdsmen” as a terrorist group and treat them as such. This tends to lend credence to the speculation that because he is a Fulani man himself the president is seeing them as sacred cows. More unsettling is the view in certain quarters that these so-called “herdsmen” are wearing false masks as herdsmen, and are merely interpreting a script carefully authored in powerful quarters.
The law on “prohibition of hate speech” is dangling like the sword of Damocles and seems to be humming “see something, say nothing and do nothing.” Conversely, the “whistle blowing” provision seems to offer a kind of palliative. Some naughty fellow has suggested that this should not be restricted to the exposition of looters of our treasury, but should be extended to the exposition of dangerous plots by tribes or religious groups against others. All in all, we should not lose sight of the fact that the security situation in Nigeria today is volatile. So, as they in popular parlance, “shine your eyes”.
Abinitio, this piece was not intended to have any political coloration. Howbeit, the urge to reminisce on the state of the nation today is hugely tempting. Honestly, Nigerians have never had it so bad. The political atmosphere across the nation today is that of falsehood, deceit, impunity, insensitivity and downright sadism.
A one-time American President, Roosevelt, had it that the parameter for measuring any government is its effect on the common man. Our leaders, from top to bottom, are beating their chest in the euphoria of “wonderful” performance, while the common man crunches under misplaced priority. The prognosis is that, left as it is, the worst is yet to come.
In Imo State, for instance, the government is operating on a frequency antithetical to the real needs of the people. The government has a quixotic vision of transforming the state into a “wonderland,” inhabited by mendicants. People have been ruthlessly thrown out of their little sources of livelihood, and there is hew and cry all over the place. Sadly, the government couldn’t be bothered. When you knock down all the markets, seal up shops and shades and destroy ancestral homes, where are the people you are taking to el-dorado! Common sense dictates that in these days of economic hardship, what the common man needs most is keeping body and soul together, and not air conditioners on all our roads. Government should be able to feel the pulse of those they claim to be leading, to know when some policies are punitive and go back to the drawing table. Late President Nelson Mandela admonished that “real leaders must be prepared to sacrifice all for the good of their people.” Worthy of mention here are the activities of some senseless, loquacious, pathological sycophants who would not allow the government to objectively assess itself, and listen to constructive criticism. Some of them are always on air singing ridiculous tunes of praises and exhortations. Invariably, they sound sufficiently educated and all that, but obviously exhibit crass political immaturity.
My people have resigned themselves to fate, expecting divine intervention – a tall order indeed! What is more important, though, is to brace up for the next opportunity to choose our leaders.