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Herdsmen attacks and echoes of Enugu killings

I HAVE followed with keen interest the development in the country over the unfortunate attacks on communities by suspected Fulani herdsmen. The incessant attacks which have ravaged some communities in the country have posed a serious security threat to  our national unity and peaceful co-existence.

Of note and special interest is the recent carnage in Nimbo community in Uzo Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State, which drew the attention of the world.  During my academic pursuit in Nsukka, I undertook constant visits to Adada River in Uzo Uwani L.G.A, located close to Nimbo community where the killings took place.

So, I became passionate about the state when the news of the carnage filtered around the country. My reaction then was uncomplimentary. Rather than embrace the peace approach and call for fasting and prayers which was aimed at calming  frayed nerves and forestalling a reprisal attack, I felt that a backlash against the herdsmen was the best option. I was not bothered about the implication on our nation’s security then, especially the southerners residing in the northern parts of the country.

I had expected a spontaneous reaction from the Igbos to send a signal to the world that they cannot be taken for granted in their fatherland. But unlike some states that would have taken actions that will escalate the already tense situation, Enugu people, no doubt, handled the matter maturely, in the overall interest of the nation.

If the incident had happened in some states, they would have made inflammatory statements that could have precipitated a reprisal attack.  The states would have accused the Federal Government of failing to live up to its responsibility of protecting the lives and property of the citizens of the country, calling on their people to fight back and defend themselves. They would have also raised sentiments along tribal, religious and political divides without taking strategic steps to promptly address the issues decisively and amicably like the Enugu Governor did.

When the governor visited the Nimbo community, saw a dead body, wept and called for fasting and prayers, many people then misunderstood the wisdom behind his emotions, empathy and resort to God’s intervention.

But, when I recalled that tears streamed down President Barack Obama’s cheeks in January this year, when he summoned the memory of the 20 elementary school children slaughtered in Newtown, Connecticut, I saw wisdom, leadership, humility and maturity in what the Enugu Governor did at Nimbo.

The recent turn  of events, has proved those who had criticised the state’s handling of the Nimbo attack wrong. The trend of events has portrayed the governor as a statesman and diplomatic leader with a deep rooted instinct in crisis management and passion for peace and unity of the country. It has proved that he displayed maturity in the face of provocation, by not allowing a reprisal attack that would have done the Igbos more harm than good.

I am convinced that he considered the consequences of a possible counter-retaliation on his innocent brothers and sisters residing in other parts of the country, when he condemned the dastardly act and promised to do everything possible within his constitutional powers to bring the culprits to book and put an end to the incessant killings in the state.

I have realised that the governor’s path to peace, dialogue and strategic engagement of all concerned, towards bringing the culprits to book and finding a sustainable solution to the menace of the herdsmen, was not a sign of weakness but a sign of reasoned maturity and commitment to the promotion of our national unity and integration for which he should be commended.

The significant fact about the Enugu attack is not only that it drew the attention of the entire world to condemn the heinous act and call for justice, our President after the prompt visit of the Enugu Governor to him, also condemned the attack and directed the security agencies to immediately secure communities under the attacks of herdsmen and arrest the perpetrators of the dastardly acts and bring them to justice.

It is on record, that the governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) were the first to pay a condolence visit to the state over the Nimbo attack. They condemned the attack and commended Gov. Ugwuanyi for “the show of maturity in handling the provocative incident, which they described as a criminal act that cannot be associated with tribe, religion or political party.”

I appreciate the inspirational words of the Chairman of the APC Northern Governors, Governor Ibrahim Shettima of Borno State during the visit.

There is no doubt that Gov.  Ugwuanyi  has through the sequence of his actions  since the incessant attack on Nimbo community, demonstrated quality leadership that provides answer to the fundamental problems of national disunity, tribalism and religious bigotry that have threatened our existence as an indivisible entity.

Mr. Femi Idowu, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Lagos.


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