By Benedict Ahanonu
FOR most part of 2016, Nigeria was plagued by incessant letting of blood by a group alleged to be Fulani herdsmen. While some may claim that the real Fulani herdsmen are peaceful and essentially mindful of their flock, the fact remains that this marauding group is composed of herdsmen who appear in the garb of Fulani pastoralists.
That aside, their modus operandi is unwavering and follows a common pattern. From Benue to Enugu, Delta, Ekiti and now Niger, Kaduna it has been a gory tale of woe.
Thousands of innocent Nigerians have been killed, cash and food crops destroyed, villages and communities sacked.
Because there seems to be no indication of readiness by the government through the security agencies to deal with these murderous offenders, they have got more emboldened even as they visit mayhem on Nigerians with flagrant impunity.
One had expected President Muhammadu Buhari to demonstrate strong leadership in dealing with these marauders whom it appears may not be Nigerians.
While there is “Operation Lafiya Dole” for the Northeast insurgency, “Operation Crocodile Dance” for the Southeast Biafran agitators, “Operation Crocodile Smile” for the Niger Delta, there is none for this bunch of killers who have succeeded in inflicting pain on almost every part of the country.
It is even quite disturbing and strange that the same President Buhari who is always quick to condemn such dastardly acts when they happen elsewhere has so far been unable to rebuke what seems like genocide taking place in Southern Kaduna.
Reacting, perhaps, at the behest of Buhari, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, who spoke on a Channels Television programme, “Sunrise Daily,” said that it was needless for the president to speak on the destruction of southern Kaduna State since the governor assured that he was in full control of the violent crisis and had been briefing his boss regularly.
Adesina’s comment came on a day gunmen mauled six persons in Goska Village, Jama’a Local Government Area of the state, in spite of the curfew the state government had imposed on the troubled areas.
According to him, “You don’t have to hear from the president on that matter. When it pays us, we talk about federalism and true federalism; yet you want the president and presidency to talk about everything. In true federalism, it is the governor that should be in charge and he is in charge of it.”
Meanwhile what we have in Nigeria is Unitary Federalism where the centre is all too powerful, owns and controls everything.
If what Adesina stated is true, why has the President been talking about the Niger Delta militancy and the peaceful uprising in the southeast? He would as well have left it for the governors to handle in line with this concept of federalism.
As it stands, the Kaduna State government, for reasons yet unknown, has shown clear inability and lack of will to quell the crisis.
On his part, the Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, in a statement by his press secretary, Ehisienmen Osaigbovo, called on opinion moulders and religious leaders to refrain from giving religious colouration to the crisis between herdsmen and farmers in Southern Kaduna.
But the question is, what other meaning can one give a dangerous situation where only Christians are killed and only Christian villages and possessions are destroyed?
Inasmuch as there have been alleged cases of cattle rustling in some of these places that are under attack, yet I don’t think the right step should be a reprisal that punishes and kills everyone even when a supposed curfew is in place.
One thing that must be stated is that the era of religious conquests and sacking of towns by brutal murder of all inhabitants has passed. If that is the intention of these murderers and their sponsors, then they are lost forever as no part of Nigeria will be taken by any group by force.
The laws of the country must be respected and those whose duty it is to enforce such laws should sit up as the life of every Nigerian matters.
Ahanonu writes from Abuja