Dr. Kayode Ajulo
The manner of killings being unleashed on the populace we all must admit has become a major national worry and threat.
This was not the first time herdsmen had wreaked havoc on Nigerians or Benue state particularly.
The other day, in Ondo State, Southwest, Nigeria, herdsmen allegedly abducted Olu Falae, a former Secretary to the Federal Government and former presidential candidate.
The same group of men ran amok killing in Enugu, and turned Agatu, in Benue State, into a killing field.
In the recent times, markedly in less than two weeks now, the rate at which armed herdsmen had descended on the hapless citizens with rapid-fire guns and machetes is bestial and with a satanic vigour.
The order in which the Tivs community in rural Benue state fall easy prey to free killings and maiming now takes frontal seat. Images of heaped corpses, including children, pregnant women, charred remains of burnt homes and bodies circulated quite widely and with frenzy on social media. Public outrage and repulsion peaked at the brutality of the massacre.
Most unfortunately ‘official’ reaction to all these sinister acts has been, at best, tepid.
Even to the recent, the reaction, was, of course, foreseeable and in typical governmental character. Governor Ortom of Benue state visited the locus in quo, accompanied by the top police officers in the state, heads of other security agencies, and, of course a roll call of media personnel to cry wolf over the carnage and do lip service as usual ritual. As his entourage moped and gaped theatrically at the sordid landscape, the governor lowered his head and buried his chin in his hands, the visage of hurt laced with seriousness while the cameramen clicked away, careful to catch the right angle of pain in enactment for public consumption. A charade.
And cashing on the sad situation, there are the gubernatorial theatrics and recycled presidential statements; governments at other levels who indulge flippantly in age-long business of making profit of the situation in light of its publicity in shoring up political capital for the 2019 election year in view. Nigerians are of course accustomed to their rulers’
occasional acts of Nollywoodesque tearfulness.
The question now is: After the wailing, what concrete steps follow?
For one, the governor of the state, Ortom, the Chief Security Officer of the State, who also receives hundreds of millions in the name of providing security for the lives and properties of Nigerians under the geographical space of his governance, has merely played the victim even more than the dead and wounded, while the Genral Buhari presidency enacted it’s traditional peacock dance on the graves of the dead before returning to the more important business of blaming the past and muscling critical opposition. What those two owe to the memory of the hapless, defenseless victims of the massacres, however, is to come up with measures to protect the lives and properties of those who have thus far survived.
If the presidential reaction was designed to allay anxiety and calm Nigerians’ nerves, I am afraid it had the opposite effect. The language lacked the depth of spirit, and came across as an old letter merely resent, a pronouncement that did not sprout from the heart. One could tell that the president was either unaware of the underlying intricacy of the crisis or was all together not bothered enough to mention it. It thus appears the President has taken for granted the truth that solutions cannot be effective where the problem sought to be resolved remain largely misunderstood or blurred.
The people of Benue state and other affected states must rise from the lethargy of their grief to becoming proactive with solutions. Things have fallen apart, and the centre cannot hold. When the veritable author Chinua Achebe borrowed the above words from the original in William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming “, he may have been referring to the pre colonial era around the 1860s, at the arrival of white missionaries and the ruinous social and cultural consequences that characterized their coming. Centuries later, those haunting words have become prescient with the anomaly called Nigeria.
The government’s ineptitude reflects in the lacklustre performance of the security operatives who have shamelessly joined the league of leaders who have reduced the lowered the quality and sanctity of human lives, who become rather unfeelie for the plight of citizens, reducing fine denizens to beasts, killing innocent children and defenseless women. For one, there is no dodging the fact that the apparent failure of Nigeria’s security officers give vent to Fulani herdsmen ‘s bloody rampage, and it must be understood in this light. And for so long as those who should see to the security of lives and properties desert their constitutional duties, Nigerian people must become a government unto themselves, particularly in matters that relate to their lives and properties by whatever legitimate means at their disposal.
President Muhammadu Buhari is not doing enough. It’s his charge to act. He is at this point dangerously close to leaving Nigerians disillusioned. Leadership involves a measure of deliberation, prudence and pragmatism. He has not laid out a single policy proposal on any of the major national issues that concern the millions who voted for him but continues to bask in the chant of the thinning crowd of diehard fans whose goto defence of his person is his debatable ‘Mr. Integrity’ posture. It is hoped that Mr. President is not hard of hearing when truth speaks to a solution. A four times runner for office of President in the 4th Republic, one would hope that the president would act less dazed and out of his depths when confronted with issues that are neither new nor unfathomable. The time for blame throwing and political face saving is long past. With all the security agencies maintained by the Nigerian state—and reporting to President Buhari—did the “herdsmen” have to kill one more soul before a presidential order was issued to rein them in?
Too much drama and suspence have been whipped up in recent times concerning the president ‘s reelection bid, a deliberate myth-creating ploy by his mischievous handlers to pass off the impression that should he choose to contend his victory is assured. Such creativity is misplaced. The President’s scorecard, low this past two years, have even now been besmirched by the blood of the many innocents that have died and that may continue to die if nothing concrete is done soon.
Far from feeling reassured, the people are abandoned to uncertainty on the theme of security not helped by the deployment of ceremonial policemen to the affected areas. Those who have the duty to protect fellow Nigerians have shirked their duties. Far from feeling reassured, the people of Benue state are abandoned to an uncertainty in security not helped by the deployment of ceremonial policemen to the affected areas. The only probable redemption would be to give a measure of statutory strength to the people’s right to defend themselves. It is not enough to launch the kind of cynical investigation that is soon forgotten— precisely because, in Nigeria, impunity, violence and senseless death are all but norms.
The national assembly must put to good use the instruments in their hands by enacting a body of law to constitute a community security force made up of natives who know the lay and peculiar security challenges of their areas with adequate provisions to meet and deal with those challenges.
While we cannot blame the government singly for the atrocities. Placing the security of lives in the hands of careless security operatives is in itself a careless culture.
At this level, the people should be encouraged to do community policing, at least for farther sense of security. Also, there’s the crying need for reorientation. It’s part of government’s roles to ensure that citizens are properly enlightenment, polluted minds disabused and instill in citizens mutual love and respect for human lives.
Doing this is key and it is a collective responsibility to ensure that every Nigerian is secured in any part of the country where he finds himself.
Dr. Ajulo, is the Principal Partner, Kayode Ajulo & Co. Castle of Law, Chairman, Board of Trustees of Egalitarian Mission for Africa and was National Secretary, Labour Party.