By Jude Ndukwe,
Still in a mourning mood over the mindless massacre at Enugu by suspected Fulani herdsmen, the nation’s heavy heart was further daggered by what can best be described as the petulance of an arrogant set of governors from the Northern part of the country who take pleasure in talking down on the other parts of the country and behaving like headmasters whose pupils must not have an opinion, talk less of expressing such, without incurring their wrath.
Following the Ukpabi Nimbo incident in Enugu State, there was a general outpour of rage by all well-meaning Nigerians who thought, and rightly so too, that the president, Muhammadu Buhari, has not done enough to rein in the Fulani herdsmen despite their repeated reign of terror across the Middle Belt and Southern parts of the country. Nigerians had thought the Agatu attack was the height of the continued attack by the herdsmen; they had thought the president would say something to, at least, placate the grieving community, but no word came from him. The worst was that those responsible for the heinous crime had a meeting with Nigeria’s chief police officer where they confessed to their crime, yet, were let go, strangely.
Also, Nigerians could not understand why Buhari gave marching orders to service chiefs to deal with pipeline vandals in the South-South part of the country but gave no such stern orders against the Fulani herdsmen until the public outrage that followed the Enugu massacre. Rightly or wrongly, a lot of Nigerians think that the Fulani herdsmen are enjoying tacit support of the powers that be to carry on with their dastardly acts unchecked. This thought stems from Buhari’s actions and statements in the past where he had expressed and actually acted in support of the Fulani herdsmen who are also his kinsmen.
For example in October 2000, President Buhari had travelled all the way from Katsina State leading a delegation of five men to the then governor of Oyo State, Lam Adeshina, to strongly protest the reprisal attack carried out against Fulani herdsmen by the Saki people of the state after the herdsmen had repeatedly attacked people of the area. The presence of Buhari and his delegation was said to have raised palpable tension in the state that they even refused to acknowledge pleasantries from government officials and left in anger without taking the refreshments served them by the governor. This was understandable as Governor Lam Adeshina was said to have properly addressed them and put them issues in their rightful context, while advising the visitors to refrain from exacerbating existent tensions and stoking ethnic disunity!
With this in mind, Nigerians might not be wrong to have accused the president of not acting timeously against the herdsmen because of some ethnic and religious affinity he shares with them.
So, when the 19 Northern state governors issued a statement after their recent meeting berating Nigerians for blaming Buhari and the Fulani herdsmen for the atrocities caused in several parts of the country, it came to many as a shock. The question is, who else do these governors want Nigerians to blame? Buhari is the Commander-in-Chief; he swore to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians. When he fails to do this repeatedly, the citizens would have no one else to blame but him, especially when his long silence have given rise to suspicions of an ethnic agenda against the South.
It is quite hypocritical that these same governors had found it expedient to blame former president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for the Chibok crisis because he was the Commander-in-Chief but would not want Nigerians to blame Buhari for a similar crisis.
Apart from this, they went ahead to warn Nigerians not to classify the perpetrators of this evil act as Fulani as if the perpetrators are the Yoruba or Igbo or Tiv. The fact is that these itinerant herdsmen are predominantly of Fulani extraction; and their attacks are largely ethnic in nature, with the aim of occupying conquered territories, subjugating host communities and installing an emirate just like they once did in Ilorin. And we must call a spade by its name. The situation is so dire that there is no room for window dressing. If the Northern governors do not like the fact that Buhari is being rightly blamed for the nearly irredeemable security lapses currently ravaging our country, they should prod him to do more and advise their atrocious kinsmen who are bringing bad publicity to their region to behave or be dealt with.
The era of browbeating other sections of the country into submission is over! There is a new reality on the ground now. There is a new generation of stubborn Nigerians who are ready to fight to keep the sanctity of their people’s God-given dignity than allow any person or group of persons to rob them of their humanity. There is a new generation of Southerners and Middle Belters who are more united now more than ever to challenge the looming pogrom planned by a common enemy but still being implemented in installments as a way of test-running the main agenda.
There is a new generation of Igbos who do not care anymore about the defeat their fathers suffered in the civil war, and are ready to defend their lives and property if called out again. If the government of Buhari will not protect them, they are prepared to stand the enemy face to face and eyeball to eyeball all by themselves. The consequences of allowing this crisis to degenerate to a free for all fight will be too much for both this government and the country to bear.
Lastly, and for the avoidance of doubt, the threats by the Northern state governors are nothing but the wailing of ducks. If they do not have anything calming to say to those who are grieving as a result of the terror unleashed on innocent citizens by their kinsmen, they should just keep quiet!
Ndukwe ,wrote from Abuja via [email protected]; Twitter: @stjudendukwe