By Emmanuel Onwubiko
By So, why and how come the current administration seems to be handling the ongoing bloody violence by armed Fulani herdsmen with kid gloves even when the President swore to an oath to protect the constitution? Shehu Sani, a former activist and current senator representing Kaduna central seems to have attempted the resolution of the aforementioned conundrum. In his book appropriately entitled “The killing fields: Religious Violence in Northern Nigeria”, he wrote as follows: “Nigeria is a country with appropriate credentials for dysfunctional conflicts.” He argued also that Nigeria has since the end of the civil war continued to have a recurrence of violent ethnic and religious conflicts that have scarred the nation’s socio-political landscape. He also affirmed that many of the conflicts in Nigeria are long-standing feuds that have been surfacing from time to time and were never fully resolved.
Again, Senator Sani located many of these conflicts as wholly brought about by the structural problems of the country. Importantly, he blamed militarisation of the political space for the bloodcurdling violence.
The Nigerian society, he said, has been deeply traumatised by successive military dictatorships and it will take many years of consistent work to rebuild trust, faith and integrity. Lastly, he submitted that the culture of violence, reprisals and revenge is deeply embedded in the psyche of the society and that there is so much “unfinished” business at the level of social equity and broad human rights issues that must be addressed.
If the book was written recently since the advent of the incessant armed Fulani attacks, I’m sure the author would have included the fact that armed Fulani herdsmen are today rated globally as one of the most dangerous terror networks after Boko Haram terrorists. He also missed out the aspect of the loud conspiracy of silence from the highest political class over the killings.
Although in a recent Facebook post, Senator Sani accused President Muhammadu Buhari of pampering and protecting the Fulani terrorists unleashing violence all across Nigeria.
Then again, why does Nigeria persistently witness herdsmen’s killings and the Federal Government seems cool with the development?
Has this anything to do with the country’s weak legal framework, weakened security institutions or is it just the deliberate undermining of extant laws on murder by the Federal Government officials manning internal security most of whom are also Fulani by ethnic origin?
I believe that although our institutions, especially the security institutions, are so weak basically because the law concedes the command and control structure to the authority of one person, there are many statutory provisions which, if activated and the mass killers are appropriately punished in accordance with law, the situation will radically improve.
It is, therefore, a case of deliberate undermining of extant laws. I say this because there is no other way to describe the attitude of all the heads of the security forces who have consistently gone to sleep whilst well-armed Fulani herdsmen terrorize different communities and continue inflicting pains, deaths and bloodshed on a scale unimaginable even in the wildest horror movies in the Hollywood.
The conspiracy of silence and the apparent lack of political will to sanction legally the mass murderers has definitely presented Nigeria to look like the Hobbesian society whereby life is short, brutish, miserable and might by all means has become right. Thomas Hobbes may have written about present day Nigeria in his political treatise titled the State of Nature. Also notable is theologian in the person of Reverend Father Luke Nnamdi Mbeto in his book “The Reshaping of African Traditions” who reminded us that Western scholars have often viewed Nigeria and Africa as a dark continent inhabited by savages who have no respect for the sanctity of life.The criminal acts of mass murders by armed Fulani herdsmen and the permissiveness of these orgies of bloody violence by the politicians show us as persons inhabiting a very dark zoo where survival is by the strongest and politically well connected.
Mbefo wrote thus: “Besides the fact that the Africans were seen as savages is the added prejudice that informed European appreciation of this race of people”. Linnaeus, in his system of nature (1735) had distinguished five varieties of the human species and allocated each definite racial characteristics. According to this classification, the black race belongs at the base. Here is the table content: Wildman: Four-footed, mute, hairy; American: Copper-coloured, choleric, erect; Hair: black, straight, thick; nostrils: wide; face: harsh; beard: scanty; obstinate, content free; paints himself with fine red lines. Regulated by customs.
Europeans: Fair, sanguine, brawny. Hair: yellow, brown, flowing; eyes: blue, gentle, acute, inventive. Covered with close vestments. Governed by laws.
Asiatic: sooty, melancholy, rigid. Hair: black; eyes: dark; severe, haughty, covetous. Covered with loose garments. Governed by opinions; African: Black, phlegmatic, relaxed. Hair: black, frizzled; skin: silky; nose: flat; lips: tumid; crafty, indolent, negligent. Anoints himself with grease. Governed by caprice. That this characterisation of the African influenced European activity in Africa was evident on the eve of decolonization, Fr. Mbefo observed.
Equally, he noted that the argument is not whether Linnaeus was correct or incorrect in his classification and characterisation. His ideas, therefore, helped to formulate European strategy in white relations with the black savages.
But, the entire picture and impressions being created by the ongoing savage massacre of farmers by armed Fulani herdsmen has truly validated the pathetic characterisation of an African as a savage and someone who is governed by caprice. The only way to show the World that we are not all irrationally animalistic is for Nigerians in their millions to speak out and demand that the killers and their collaborators are brought to djustice now.
Onwubiko, of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), writes via emmanuelonwubiko.com.