By Rose Moses
Thomas Hobbes, the English philosopher had in his famous and influential book, Leviathan, written that life outside society is ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.’
Writing in 1651, Hobbes had expressed the views about the nature of human beings, all of who, he said, seek power over others, and thus saw the necessity of governments and societies, that is, existence of rule of law and threat of punishment that keeps the people in check.
His theory, which sought ways out of such an undesirable situation by man, argued that the solution was to put some powerful individual or parliament in charge and given the right to inflict severe punishment on anyone who stepped out of line, ‘since laws are no good if there isn’t someone or something strong enough to make everyone follow them.’
Which brings to mind one question: Isn’t life in Nigeria, especially in places like Benue, Taraba, Zamfara, among others, now sounding like what Hobbes, the 16th century ‘pessimistic thinker,’ viewed as ‘a state of nature,’ without laws or anyone with the power to back them up?
In 21st century Nigeria, people going peacefully about their businesses, either in their farmlands, places of worship, or even while in their homes are ruthlessly murdered by marauding Fulani militias with no trace of perpetrators. No sanction!
It has never been this bad in Nigeria. Or has it, because Nigerians more than ever, now live in perpetual fear, not knowing what next to expect with every break of the day.
President Muhammadu Buhari, however, would in faraway London, blame the upsurge in clashes farmers/herdsmen clashes and the senseless killings in the country on late Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.
The president reportedly told the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in London the other week that the farmers/herdsmen clashes were made worse by influx of armed gunmen (trained by Gaddafi) from the Sahel region in Nigeria and other parts of West African sub-region.
So, why are they not apprehended, since we have heard severally from other government officials too that the killers come from places like Senegal, Mauritius, Chad, etc?
Which government just keeps announcing to the world that foreigners freely invade their land to kill, maim and burn down communities and then get away with genocide?
A Nigerian state enacts a law prohibiting open grazing for the collective interest of both farmers and herders. One group would threaten, even on national television, that the law would not stand; otherwise, the state would be rendered ungovernable! Where else does that happen?
And true to threat, ever since the ‘decree’ allegedly made by a scribe of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) was issued, the people and government of Benue state have known no peace. They have been under siege, with little or no arrest made against those killing them… as we look to Libya.
Last Tuesday, armed Fulani herdsmen again descended on the people, unleashing terror on Ayar Mbalom community in the Gwer East Local Government Area of the State. By the time they left, 19 persons were killed, including two Rev. Fathers identified as Frs. Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha.
The Catholic faithful were said to have gone for morning Mass around 5.30 am but unknown to them, the militia herdsmen had laid ambush on the community and would later surround their Church, killing all early callers like fowls.
As if that wasn’t enough, the killer herdsmen would proceed to set ablaze over 100 houses in the village, shooting indiscriminately as villagers fled in fear.
Incidentally, the attack was coming barely four days after the murder of 10 persons by herdsmen in the Guma LGA, and the destruction of houses in the Naka, Gwer LGA by men suspected to be military personnel, who claimed to be searching for killers of a soldier.
This brings to mind allegation made by a retired Army General, Theophilus Danjuma, that the military was colluding with militia groups to kill innocent Nigerians.
The Ayar Mbalom incident was also coming after the acting governor of the state, Mr. Benson Abounu, had raised the alarm of planned attacks on five communities in the state, following security reports at his disposal.
Isn’t it curious, therefore, that after such information was made public, security operatives were still caught napping as the terrorists successfully carried out the attack with none of the attackers apprehended even as I write?
Though President Buhari has described as ‘vile’ and ‘satanic’ the killing of worshipers and two priests at the church, saying the latest assault on innocent persons was particularly despicable, Nigerians expect more from him.
As Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, he is expected to put a stop to the killings, which many have actually blamed on his seeming aloofness to the terror.
While this incident also goes to confirm that Christians are endangered species in Nigeria, it lends credence to insinuation that the Fulani herdsmen’s agenda is beyond grazing fields for their cattle and points to the fact that both government and security agencies have failed the nation by their inability to curb the killings.