By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA – Former Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to use his visit to Nasarawa state to enforce the peace in warring parts of the state by calling politicians to order, especially because the wave of violence in the state is essentially as a result of political calculations ahead of the 2019 general elections.
While lamenting that communities in Akwe, Obi and Keana have been displaced, Maku added that both the Tivs and the Fulanis are victims of the same political machinations in the state.
“What is going on now is definitely beyond farmers and herders clashes. It is a major war going on. How long will this last before Nigeria finds a solution?
The entire belt that is under attack is where most of our food come from. Nasarawa, Plateau, Benue, Adamawa, Taraba and Southern Kaduna. There is now a disruption in agricultural activities. So, as the president visits my state, I want him to ask for a special attention to stop these killings. Even if the state government is not interested in doing anything, these communities need peace”, he stated.
Maku who was a one-time deputy governor of the state recalled that as Supervisory Minister of Defence in the last dispensation, the only time there were skirmishes between herders and farmers, the federal government immediately sent in troops to contain the situation.
“Every week, communities are burying people. There is nothing the president will give us in Nasarawa state today that would be appreciated, except peace. We have stopped asking for development. We are asking for peace. Only peace”, he said.
According to him, there has been a resurgence of violence in the build up to the general elections, accusing the state government of seeming disinterest in halting the trend.
“These spate of attacks and shedding of blood have been going on in Nasarawa state since Almakura became governor. It will appear that we had some calm under Aliyu Akwe Doma, and for those four years, we had only one major attack in Nasarawa local government. There were no regular killings but since the advent of the current administration, it has been like a war of attrition. The point to note is that the current development is highly unusual and artificial because in Nasarawa we had stayed together peacefully for centuries.
“These attacks are close to the elections. It is beyond a conflict between herders and farmers. This war is about politics. It is about communal displacement, to disrupt public order ahead of the elections in our state. These attacks are not by ordinary people but by professional gunmen who enter into communities, kill and then disappear. As a leader from that state, I know that there is a connection to politics. People even discuss it openly. Why are these attacks closer to elections? Unfortunately, these attacks occur in the villages, and the villagers demand nothing from Nigeria but peace”, he added.
Maku recalled when then Head of Stae, Gen. Yakubu Gowon visited the old Plateau state, saying the whole state shut down to welcome the president. “But today, many communities cannot go to Lafia to welcome the president because their villages have been sacked.
“I want Mr President to know that in 2011, his original party, the CPC won in Nasarawa state while the president lost in his own Katsina state”, he said, adding that since Nasarawa was part of what the president used in bargaining his way into the merger that became the All Progressives Congress APC, he has to pay a more focused attention on the state which he described as home for him”.