By Tunde Ajibulu
History has many definitions. It can be referred to as an academic discipline which uses a narrative to examine and analyse a sequence of past events and objectively determine patterns of cause and effect that determine them.
We are nothing without our past and history…and we are primed for failure if we cannot learn from the past to adjust the present and plan for the future. There is a biblical saying that ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ or a more Nigerian saying “no be today woman get yansh for back e don tey”
On the 6th of July 1967 the new Head of State, Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon ordered a ‘police action’ to tame the Biafran shrew and to retake the secessionists’ territory….a terrible decision and mistake that escalated into 3 years of death, anguish, destruction, the darkest period in Nigerian history when brothers became enemies……maybe if the Biafran issue at the time had been recognized for what it really was abinitio, just maybe the war would have ended in less than six months sparing more lives and limiting the extreme ravaging of the eastern part of Nigeria.
Watching Captain Umar Aliyu (rtd) the well known security consultant and analyst on the programme Sunrise on Channels TV a few days ago I was most impressed at his astute grasp of the situation the Minister for Interior or the President should waste no time in inviting this gentleman to sound out his ideas because it seems the government is reverting to old ways and hoping for new results…..the herdsmen/farmers clash has been going on for decades….A full length research paper titled ‘CAUSES, EFFECTS, AND RESOLUTION OF FARMERS-NOMADIC CATTLE HERDERS CONFLICT IN DELTA STATE, NIGERIA by A. U. Ofuoku and B. I. Isife in 2009 confirms this.
This is not the job for the police!!!!! Maybe because I share an identical military orientation with Capt. Aliyu, I can grasp the tactical situation. The Nigerian Police is not trained for warfare!!! This is a special type of war which needs specialised warriors to fight it…’the Police Force is a constituted body of persons empowered by a State to enforce the law, protect property and limit civil disorders. The Francophone African countries however have the ‘gendarmerie’ which are military units charged with primarily with civil policing but depending on the situation can fluidly adapt.
It is glaring that the Nigeria Police are no gendarmes. This beyond its depth. This is even beyond an ordinary soldier in the Nigerian Army. This kind of warfare as I said earlier needs specialized warriors something like a reconnaissance battalion (Recce Bn)replete with scouts and trackers is what is needed here. Soldiers that can live off the land for weeks so the supply line is not stretched, soldiers that can live like bandots and second guess them, Mr. President should deploy recce battalions to the affected areas to curb this menace..it will not be his first time to do this… April 18 1983 the Chadians over ran several towns encroaching severely onto Nigeria soil.
President Shehu Shagari ordered Maj Gen Buhari GOC 3rd Division to repulse this incursion…using the then Nigerian Army Scout Regiment which was the reconnaissance arm of the infantry as the thrust supported by 21 armoured brigade Maiduguri and the 301 field artillery regiment he repulsed the incursion and chased the Chadians in to chadian terriotory orders from the presidency to stop the advance fell on deaf ears until he stopped 50 kilometres from the chadian capital at the risk of a courtmartial on return , he was summoned by President Shagari asking why he disobeyed a direct order from the president…his excuse was he was caught up in battle fever and did not realise he had crossed into chadian territory….well this is the kind of fervour and passion the Nigerian Military requires at this time to put an end to this travesty. Capt. Aliyu also warned my party, the ruling party, APC, about how this herdsmen-farmers conflict can be the albatross of this government the exact way Book Haram Terrorists (BHT) was for the immediate past administration. The truth is that we can all see that this issue is getting categorically worse and more brazen by the day and casualties are on the rise.
We should treat this potential conflagration objectively and pragmatically before it engulfs us all. We are avoiding the main issues here and focusing on plebian issues of politics and religion. We should ask questions like how do the herdsmen/bandits get AK47 rifles?
How are they trained in its use? There is something fishy here. The Nigerian Customs Service only intercepts pump action guns. I have never seen them declare to have intercepted AK47s or other assault rifles. This leaves us with many questions. Are these bandits Nigerians?
If they are not Nigerians, where do they come from? how do they come? Is their government complicit in this? Did their government(s) arm them and give them a mandate? If they are Nigerians, are they herdsmen or bandits/cattle rustlers? How do they get guns? Where is their base? What states do they come from? Where are their families? I strongly believe that the National Assembly should invite Capt. Aliyu (rtd) to enable him proffer ideas, suggestions and possible solutions to this crisis.
This is the last thing Nigeria needs, just as we are getting towards the tail end of the BHT menace, we start to get embroiled in this again? A ruthless and decisive battle of attrition should be taken to these murderous criminals! My heart goes out to the families of victims in this ensuing tragedy and I pray God grants the souls of the departed eternal rest.