By Ochereome Nnanna
UNDER this President Muhammadu Buhari regime, it is difficult to believe that Nigeria has a Minister of Defence. One of the main electoral promises of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and their presidential flag bearer, Buhari, was that they would end all forms of threats to national security, leveraging on their candidate’s military background and perceived “no-nonsense” disposition. Babatunde Fashola said once Buhari “secures the nation the economy will jumpstart itself”.
But after 32 months of living under Buhari’s rule, most Nigerians now know there is nothing “no-nonsense” about the old soldier anymore. The country has deteriorated from a single front of threat to lives and property (the Boko Haram terror) to a situation where armed Fulani militias masquerading as herdsmen are outmatching Boko Haram in killings, destruction of communities and rending of Nigerians into refugees in their own country, while the Federal Government pretends not to notice.
Meanwhile, any time there are reports of cattle rustling in any part of the far North, Buhari wakes up from his slumber and his Army Chief, Lt General Tukur Buratai dispatches massive contingents of our military forces to flush them out.
Nigerians have realised that the safety of cows is more important to the APC Federal Government than the lives and property of Nigerians who voted them into power. The gory pictures of men, women and children slaughtered like Sallah rams, pregnant women with their bellies cut open and the fetuses brought out and slashed to death, and infants bisected like laboratory guinea pigs, do not stir human feelings in our leaders. They eat our food with healthy appetite and sleep soundly on our beds in the cozy and secured confines of Aso Villa as if they would never, one day (perhaps sooner than later) pack out.
Minister Dan-Ali, whose portfolio (Defence) ranks among those of Mrs. Kemi Adeosun (Finance/Economy) and Abubakar Malami (Attorney General and Minister of Justice/Anti-Corruption) in pursuing the regime’s three-point agenda, has been hiding in the shadows all along. It is instructive to note that Dan-Ali and Malami belong to Buhari’s infamous cabal or kitchen cabinet. When Buhari won election in 2015, he decided to give all the security top posts to his kinsmen Northern Muslims in order to control the armed forces and security apparatuses of the nation. He also pocketed the anti-corruption institutions.
But what has he done with them? Has he secured the nation? Is he fighting corruption? Really? On the other hand, the economy which he handed over to people nominated by his South West acolytes such as Ahmed Tinubu and Ibikule Amosun, the Governor of Ogun State, are working hard and making albeit slow progress. But Buhari’s kinsmen are freeloading like rapacious parasites, preferring to share the Nigerian commonwealth with their kinsmen from across our northern borders instead of working with fellow Nigerians to make Nigeria better for the benefit of all Nigerians.
Perhaps for the first time since 1999, we have a regime that values their foreign kinsmen from Mali, Guinea, Chad and Niger Republic more than indigenous Nigerians who voted for them. Imagine Buhari wanting to build a 55 kilometre railway to Maradi in Niger Republic when not a single metre of rail has been built by this government in the South East and South-South where the oil wealth comes from!
Dan-Ali gave reasons for the New Year Day Benue massacre by armed herdsmen, which was just of such grisly incidents that have been going on throughout the Middle Belt and the entire South. He spoke as if he was the spokesperson of the Miyetti Allah, the organisation for the protection of the interests of Fulani herdsmen. He said the massacres took place because the cattle routes were blocked. He added: “These people are Nigerians and we must learn to live together with each other. Communities and other people must learn how to accept foreigners within their enclave. Finish!”
Instructively, it was also around the same period that the Directorate of State Security Services, DSS, reportedly told President Buhari that the Islamic State in West Africa, ISWA, terrorists, armed Fulani herdsmen and “government-sponsored militias” were responsible for the killings in Benue State. I am at a loss how a Minister who is meant to defend Nigerians from foreign aggressors would insist that Nigerians must learn to accept killer “foreigners” in their midst.
Again, Dan-Ali’s assertion that the killings were provoked because of the Benue State’s anti-grazing law holds no water. The killings in Benue preceded their grazing law. The indigenes have lived alongside the itinerant Fulani herdsmen for decades until recently when they (the Fulani) started claiming ownership of the Benue Valley. A Fulani Professor, Mohammed Labdo, even claimed the Fulani own Benue lands “by right of conquest”. The anti-grazing laws were only put in place as a defensive reaction against perceived Fulani expansionist, land-grabbing agenda which the armed herdsmen appear to be forcefully implementing.
There is no anti-grazing law in Plateau, yet their indigenous people have been slaughtered by these same herdsmen for nearly 20 years! Even if the anti-grazing law is responsible for the carnages, can it be justified, even by a Minister who is supposed to protect Nigerians from external aggression and internal threats? Are laws not meant to be obeyed? Is fundamental right not based on citizens being peaceful and law-abiding? So, anyone can just go to another person’s land and start killing because he wants to be “accepted” at all costs? What manner of brain do some people have?
If Minister Dani-Ali had known, he should have kept his mouth shut as he has always done since he was unfortunately appointed Defence Minister. But we thank God that he opened up and exposed the evil intentions that elements in this regime harbor against even those who voted for them.
He spoke the mind of this government, and we have heard him loud and clear.