Nigerian government should rise up to the herdsmen challenge
The news and stories of wanton killings by herdsmen and suspected herdsmen in Nigeria’s northern parts have reached a deafening crescendo. This insecurity challenge has been able to reach this level because authorities, either past or present, failed to take requite actions to nip it in the bud. It is bitter but true that if head-on counter actions are not taken immediately, what is being experienced in Benue state, North-Central Nigeria, will soon snow-ball into a genocide.
The individuals who are being murdered in cold-blood are some people’s relatives: fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends and colleagues. And the death of a loved one hurts to the bone. The other person who is hurt may take a deadly counter action if care is not taken.
This is April. Between January and now, no fewer than 200 persons have been mowed down in different parts of Benue state alone. The state government seemed to be confused on what to do to protect the lives and property of its citizenry. And the Federal government seemed not to be showing adequate concern to the plights of the people of Benue. People are living like ghosts in parts of Benue state as we write this.
When President Muhammadu Buhari eventually visited Benue after the hews and cries, he deflected the blame of continuous coordinated attacks on the hapless Benue farmers on the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Idris whom he said refused to heed to his directive to watch Benue closely. One would have expected Buhari to express deep frown at what the Police boss did by meting-out any punishment on him. But we were all wrong. Buhari did not even issue a query, to the best of our knowledge, to Idris. And the business continued as usual.
Incidents around the body language of the president towards the herdsmen ravenous attacks on the armless citizens suggest conspiracy. Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom showed evidence to the world that he complained to the President when he got security reports about the January herdsmen attack. But the government did little or nothing to thwart the attack. Citizens cried out through various platforms, calling for government attention but nothing tangible was done to rescue those victims. For instance, the Rev. Father, Joseph Gor, who was murdered alongside other 17 parishioners cried out for help when he noticed untoward movement of herdsmen in his locality. Was the voice of a priest too little to be heard or were the lives of his parishioners too insignificant? It is a pity that what Rev. Father Gor feared happened to him the same way he feared it.
Between yesterday and today, more 20 persons have been reported killed by the same herdsmen in the same Benue. They victims have been Christians in the church or going to or returning from the church. What is happening? Has the government been stretched to its limit that they cannot take any action? Or are they waiting for a full-blown war?
Whoever that is in charge of security in Nigeria should wake up; or Buhari should find a replacement for them immediately. Nobody’s position is more important than human lives. Buhari will not gain anything when he keeps the office of his allies while the souls of the people perish.
We call for immediate rejig of the security apparatus in Nigeria. All hands must be on deck to achieve this. The National Assembly and the Judiciary should exert the pressure of checks and balances on the Executive now that the chips are down. The entire security system is already flawed by indications. And the earlier Nigeria takes drastic action, the better for everyone.