For nearly one hour on May 29 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari addressed the nation on the challenges facing his one-year administration and how he is tackling them or intends to do so. He brought the citizenry up to date on the war against Boko Haram and also touched upon the new threats to our economic wellbeing by the renewed militancy in the Niger Delta.
To the shock and dismay of Nigerians he never made any reference to the threats to our national unity, stability and safety of indigenous people by armed militants masquerading as herdsmen in most parts of the country, which assumed a fresh dimension in the past one year of his reign.
The theatre of war initially was around the Plateau/Nasarawa axis but made a bold surge southwards, with virtually every state in the North Central, South East, South-South, South West and the Taraba section of the North East targeted. In the past one year alone, over one thousand Nigerians have been reportedly killed and hundreds of thousands driven from their homes into refugee camps. The greatest manifestation of these invasions took place in Agatu in Benue State and Ukpabi-Nimbo in Enugu State.
The rising profile of this terror group is evident in that in the past year it was named among the five bloodiest groups in the world: Boko Haram, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Taliban and Al Shabbab. In fact, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt- General Tukur Buratai, recently disclosed that these heavily armed “herdsmen” had links with the world’s most murderous terror group, Boko Haram.
We are, therefore, bewildered that President Buhari did not mention this important security threat in his May 29th broadcast, neither did he inform the people what he was doing about them. We would have considered this a grievous oversight, if not for the fact that in his maiden broadcast after being sworn-in on May 29th 2015, the new President only spoke about his resolve to tackle “cattle rustlers” without even mentioning the rampage of the herdsmen around the country.
This apparent lack of sensitivity to this issue by the nation’s Number One citizen is worrisome, and we sincerely hope that this attitude will change for the better as we enter the second year of this regime. We need to quickly reassure Nigerians that the Federal Government will protect them from threats to their lives and property.
This will not only calm fears and anxiety among the people, it will also stem the growing temptation to resort to self-help.
The President’s silence on the herdsmen menace was not golden.