I had waited long to make a comment on this matter because I sought to get a handle on the killing fields now made some parts of the nation.
There was something ominous about the successful convention of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) happening at the time a pogrom happened in Plateau state. It should tell the party that there is more work to be done or that those who want them out are more desperate, and are determined to get the job done. This regime believes that the killing field made of states in the middle belt and some parts of the country are politically motivated. It holds that there are political undertones to the callous killing of men, women, and even infants in massive bloodletting that give the impression that killers want to exterminate the villages they attack. The question one is moved to ask is this: will the regime then fold its hands and allow these ‘politically motivated’ killings to shove it out of power? Does the regime imply that those outside the lever of power can drive it away, in spite of the apparatus of power being in its possession? The point is that no excuse is tenable for the wanton killings and destruction making the nation look helpless. These attacks have lately assumed a rather dangerous dimension because there are religious undertones which can hardly be swept under the carpet. The last incident in Plateau was an ambush on church members on their way back from the burial of their pastor’s father. There are possibilities that the killers do not know where their victims came from, but that is a matter of logic. The glaring and rather dangerous fact is that most of the people killed were coming from that burial. According to reports, the pastor in charge of Church of Christ in Nations [COCIN], Regional Church Council, R.C.C Rop, in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, Pam Chollom, said most of those killed in the attack, that lasted several hours, were mourners. He said the herders attacked members who attended the burial of the father of one of their clergymen, Baba Jakawa, at Gidin Akwati, Gashis district. The late Jakawa was a committed member of the church and father of one of the clergy. The sad incident started at about 1 p.m. on Saturday 23rd June, 2018, and lasted till about 8 p.m, while the ruling party was engaged in a congress in Abuja.
In its reaction the Plateau state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in a statement by its chairman said: ‘The continued genocide…is no longer herders and farmers again but deliberate attempt to conquer and occupy the land of the peoples’ ancestral heritage’. This is rather dangerous, even if the herders have no such intentions. The matter of ancestral land is as touchy as religion. They are both sides of the same coin in the scale of issues that cause long, generational wars. Church and community leaders have justifiably amplified the foregoing in a manner that make it easy to swallow. The nature and spate of attacks give the evident impression that a genocide is intended. The rules of war forbid killing of Children and civilians. This is no war in the conventional sense but they have all the trappings of war, which is why the government must give the people a sense of security. There is no greater reason for a national Army than security of national boundaries and security of lives and property. The President knows that he is the Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria’s armed forces and thus Chief Security Officer of the nation. The buck stops at his table.
Elections have crept in on the nation. As you read this, the gubernatorial elections in Ekiti state would be 48 hours away. The President and his party must act in a manner to show that these killings have come to an end, if only to remain in power. The people must see action being taken as a result of these killings. Agitations have come from some quarters to the effect that the security chiefs have been found wanting on this matter, and should be shown the door to their offices. President Buhari hardly fires his staff. He is a stable man who does not govern by instincts or emotions.
He would not be stampeded to fire his service chiefs, but there is also the danger of complacency on their part given that their jobs are secured. This government has been stable in terms of officials. There has been no cabinet change, in spite of speculations to that effect. President Muhammadu Buhari must show that he can bite, if his service chiefs must sit up and not rest on their oars. Perception is almost everything in politics and the President must do all in his powers to erase the perception that the skewed constitution of his security apparatus, in favour of a section of the country, is no deliberate tactic to look the other way as these killings persist. That perception is not good for the politics of 2019, not with a coalition firming up to give the ruling party a run for its money. Perception has a tendency to become political capitals and this regime must know that security matters have put a dent on it, such that a drastic action must follow to reverse that dent. It took a coalition to remove the last regime and a coalition has emerged yet again. It would seem that coalitions often precede change of batons. The President and his party must reverse the security situation to stop a seemingly impending political capital waiting to be made of insecurity. The President and his party must know that the opposition is waiting in the wings. This matter has not died with the din of noise as in the times past. It has become a political issue that begs for attention. The President and his party would look the other way at their own political peril.