It is curious and certainly most embarrassing that our elected members of the national and state assemblies throughout the federation are not speaking out much in the face of the horrendous horrors and unmitigated disasters assaulting this country and her citizens on daily basis. No part of the country is exempt from the gory spectacles we see on television screens, hear about on radio and read about in the newspapers, magazines and social media without ceasing. It appears the country is in a state of war.
Innocent people, mostly farmers, villagers, and commuters are being daily butchered in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Nasarawa, Taraba, Yobe, Gombe, Kaduna, Plateau and Benue, not to talk of the daily bloodletting in the entire North East, and the threatening holocaust in the entire southern states of the country. All the forests in the South West now harbour various degrees of ferocious and animalistic terror cells while the motorways have become dangerously unsafe for people to travel on. The same frightening scenario is playing out in the South South and South East regions of the country.
It has been crying, wailing and gnashing of teeth all over the place, where people suddenly lose their loved ones to marauders and terrorists masquerading as herdsmen and jihadists. There is no doubt in my mind that all those kidnapping for ransom and those slaughtering farmers on their farms are NEITHER herdsmen nor jihadists. These terrorists ranked the fourth most deadly in the world are merely hiding under the cover of cows and religion.
Herdsmen all over the world do not carry AK-47 rifles and other deadly weapons. We have had herdsmen for centuries in Nigeria and at no time did they pose any threat to peaceful co-existence. My late father’s late uncle accommodated over 100 herdsmen in his compound and at any given time he possessed over 500 heads of cattle in Ago-Iwoye. I grew up to meet them in my great-uncle’s estate, which means they had been there before I was born over 74 years ago! And as to the forceful spread of Islam or any religion whatsoever, the people engaged in the terror occupation do not profess any religion. They have been known to massacre Christians and Muslims as well as those who don’t even know whether Jesus Christ or Prophet Mohammed ever existed. They burn down churches as they burn down mosques whenever their criminal instinct dictates.
In all of these, the people who are supposed to be the second tier of government, that is, the legislators throughout the land, have not said much. Whereas the legislators are, by law and by the Constitution of every society governed by law, supposed to make laws and function as critical checks on the excesses of the executive, and whereas the legislature is mandated to be the voice of the country, the Nigerian legislators have simply gone to sleep while the country is burning.
It is an undeniable fact, given all the evidence we see every day, that President Muhammadu Buhari has lost the capacity and capability to govern or administer the country. We witnessed his (non)performances on television throughout the campaign period. He is simply no longer there! What this sorry state means is that some proxies are holding forth for him, and as it has been pointed out by critical observers, these proxies were UNELECTED. Besides, there is supposed to be an executive arm of government, but sadly there is no such thing in existence right now. Buhari is the SOLE executive dictating the affairs of the country of over 200 million people made up of over 250 nationalities.
All the 250 nationalities of this country are represented in the Senate and the House of Representatives as well as the state Houses of Assembly. And yet these representatives are all keeping quiet while members of their constituencies are being daily assaulted in a most barbaric manner.
To make matters worse, the judiciary has been seriously handicapped, while the press, the Fourth Estate of the Realm, is in chains. What is very worrisome is the acquiescence of the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly, which are very much aware that heads of federal (unitary dictatorship) government agencies are the ones carrying out the dictates of the one-man executive as currently constituted.
Alarming directive that is insidiously designed to import Fulanis from all over West and Central Africa to displace indigenous peoples of Nigeria was just thrown down the throats of the people by the one-man executive fiat with a letter emanating from the Ministry of Agriculture! In the face of this, all members of the assemblies, including those whose ancestral lands are being forcibly taken from their constituencies, are keeping quiet. There are representatives from Plateau State and Southern Kaduna who are very much aware of the brutal history of Fulani occupation and the displacement of their indigenous peoples. And yet they are quiet. Farmers in Kastina tell gory tales of their plight, and yet their representatives in both the national and state assemblies are keeping quiet. It has just taken the courage of their Emir to resort to self-help by instructing his communities to set up their own self-defence mechanisms by way of community policing!
Leaders of various ethnic nationalities are calling on their communities to resort to self-help, which technically means that these nationalities have lost faith in the leaders they voted for to be their voice in the national and state assemblies.
This is not the time for blame game or wasting precious efforts demonising any ethnic group. The tragedy we are experiencing is NOT the creation of Fulani ethnic block. It is the unambiguous creation of the cabalistic leadership of the country. Not every Fulani is involved in the insensitive, narrow-minded and archaic messianic desire to import Fulani all over West Africa to terrorise and displace indigenous peoples of Nigeria. I am sure nobody called a meeting of the Fulani and sought their opinion on the matter. It is, therefore, unfair to heap all the blame of terrorism, kidnapping, land-grabbing and the road to ethnic cleansing on every Fulani in the land.
Members of the national and state assemblies are called upon today to speak up and speak out. They should perform their mandatory function as lawmakers and ‘over-sighters.’ Dictatorship can only thrive when and where people allow themselves to be silenced.
The signs are ominous. Should the choking dictatorship be allowed to fester like an unattended wound, the consequences are too gruesome to contemplate. We should warn that the experiences of Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Sierra Leone will be child’s play, if Nigeria is plunged into a fratricidal war.
By the time former governors, former senators and former ‘honourables’ queue up for loaves of bread at refugee camps, it would have been too late to learn a lesson for playing dumb at critical moments.
We do not want war in Nigeria. Our people have suffered so much for so long. We should not cap their sorrows and sufferings with a protracted war that will naturally follow, if we fail to heed the obvious signs of our downward slip to self-destruction.
All the people with conscience and courage should speak up now. And speak out. No individual, however powerful, should be allowed to destroy this beautiful space. And all those who have a hand in this madness should bear in mind that even if you are able to flee the country with a handful of your immediate relatives, your uncles, your aunts, your nephews, nieces and hundreds of others related to you one way or the other will perish in the calamity that your selfishness and narrow-minded myopic design will plunge the country into.
•Adeniyi writes from Lagos