“The problem of terrorism is not confined to the North alone. Insecurity generally should be blamed on the Federal Government. The world is very much concerned about two things — the issue of security and economic well-being of a nation. Security is number one. A nation can only be economically viable if there is security.” ~ Muhammadu Buhari
With the above words, Buhari specifically blamed President Goodluck Jonathan for the killings in the North while speaking to the Hausa service of the British Broadcasting Corporation in April 2013.
Fast forward to 2018 and the same region is still in the news for the same bad reasons. The relentless killings have now spread from Benue to Zamfara to Taraba to Plateau and now Kogi state. Who knows the next bus stop? Is there a passing day that we will not have to contend with this increasing body count?
Curiously, these carcinogenic marauders have severally proved to be irrepressible. The ease with which they roam around the country can be likened to that of politicians in their siren blaring convoys.
You may not be wrong to categorize both as the same kit and kin.
Finally, the Kogi state governor found his voice, in a statement released on Friday 16th March- two days after the attacks, Governor Bello said through his spokesman that:
“The violence has since been contained and brought under control. The incident, however, remains under investigation while efforts are ongoing to apprehend the attackers and bring them to justice”
Even though the statement condemned the killings and rightly called for caution while urging citizens to ignore the conflicting numbers in the news there was neither enough outrage nor alarm to reflect the gravity of the matter.
This is quite regrettable for a young man saddled with the huge responsibility of leading his people. I had expected that the Governor would be bold enough to rebuke the federal government just like when he hammered the church on corrupt tithe proceeds.
Contrastingly the Senator representing Kogi East was more emotive at the floor of the Red Chamber. Reporting the incident to his colleagues Senator Atai Aidoko had put it thus:
“The Senate notes that on Wednesday 14th March 2018, no fewer than 20 people were killed in a violent attack on the people of Dekina Local Government and 12 people gruesomely killed in Omala local government of Kogi state by Fulani herdsmen”
Despite the obvious lack of certainty in the statement as we have seen reports of varying numbers ranging from 20 to 32 and the Senate had previously been misled into believing that Fulanis carried out similar attacks in Zamfara state, the Senator, however, re-echoed the thoughts of many Nigerians when he said that, “the perpetrators of these heinous crimes have not been arrested and persecuted by the Nigerian Police Force. This has led to the continuation of the killings in the country”
President Buhari has gained notoriety for his slow response to burning issues. An unfortunate and frustrating style that is eroding much of his hard-earned reputation as a strict soldier. The seeming helplessness of his administration in the face of these persistent attacks should be giving him insomnia but rather we are regularly bombarded daily with pictures of red carpet ceremonies.
I am quite aware that human beings have peculiar biases and President Buhari as a human being is entitled to his love for his Fulani brethren just like we all love our people too. However, much as I wish to avoid the ethnic colouration that has trivialized these dangerous crimes especially in the media, it is worthy of mention that the complicit statements from highly placed Fulani leaders both in the past and present are definitely not lost on many Nigerians.
Therefore, Muhammadu Buhari as a person can afford to be biased but President Buhari cannot be biased. Not only must he act in an unbiased manner but he must be seen to have acted so. That is the responsibility that comes with public office.
But we have a President who has refused to do as little as tweak the nation’s security apparatus even as it is glaring that what is really needed is a complete overhaul. Whatever devotion he may have for his long-term loyalists is now conceited in the face of all these security challenges and a general should know that this will ultimately be detrimental to the progress of the nation. It is time to summon the courage and fire those found wanting.
But will he? Will Buhari shock us by sacking the IGP tomorrow? Your guess is as good as mine.
Honestly, I expect that the selfish ones around him will be feeding him with lies and with the general elections less than a year away many will prioritize politics ahead of governance. However, farmers, school children, UN workers and even the dreaded herdsmen themselves are killed routinely in what has become an orgy of violence across the Middle Belt and North East.
I couldn’t sleep a few days ago after listening to an audio clip that was reportedly recorded by a nurse moments before she was abducted by suspected Boko Haram terrorists. Whereas some officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) who are supposed to tackle some of these problems are often recorded on video extorting money from law abiding citizens. With a President that is unaware of his IGP’s location, it is little wonder then that officers entrusted with providing security are the ones breaching it.
How long does this have to continue? Something just has to give. This must abate and very quickly too.
Conscientious leaders especially those from the affected communities, states and regions should start speaking out. Where are the traditional and religious leaders? Their silence at this hour is undignified, cowardly and ungodly. They need to cry like Benue people. They have to wail like the Tivs and they must sustain same until the President acts.
Our voices need to be heard beyond the social media too. It is time for civil societies, right groups and indeed citizens themselves to take to the streets, government buildings and media houses. We have to let the media present this to the world as it will definitely put enormous pressure on this government
Nigerians cannot afford to let the body count continue to rise as mere statistics. We owe the dead a duty to stop further killings and if the President is suffering from amnesia then its time to remind him just like we did with former President Jonathan that the most important responsibility of any government is to protect lives. History has shown that any government which continues to fail in this duty is often short-lived.
Its never too late to act. It is not only during elections that we should hold government accountable. How about now?