By Rotimi Fasan
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari should be held responsible for every herdsmen-related killing going on in the country today. Let nobody make any mistakes about this: the president is both directly and indirectly responsible for these killings. His acts, both of omission and commission, place him justifiably at the receiving end of accusations that have trailed the security failures that have made Nigerians hostage of murderous groups that appear sworn to a blood oath that would only be assuaged by the destruction of people other than those of their ethnic stock.
While these killings may appear indiscriminate with regards to ethnic affiliation in some respects, the bulk of it cannot be divorced from a visceral dislike of people from backgrounds different from those of the aggressors. Which is where the president’s complicity comes in- it resides in his refusal to take necessary steps to criminalise the activities of the herdsmen, his pussy-footing about calling the so-called herdsmen by the appropriate name: terrorists.
Unfortunately, President Buhari does not see this glaring failure of leadership for what it is. Rather he touts his so-called honesty or integrity that is its own end as the be-all and end-all cure for the many failures that have left Nigeria moving without making progress in the last three years. Buhari continues to delude himself that his touted integrity is all there is to governance. He imagines that once you are seen and you pride yourself as honest then your duty as a leader ends. But what is the use of integrity that serves no useful purpose in the overall scheme of governance? Why should Nigerians support a man who listens to none but the silent drums of his self-righteousness? President Buhari imagines he is the only Nigerian leader with integrity and goes around wearing that claim on his sleeves. He offers nothing beyond words where action is what is needed. He walks his way through governance as if integrity is all Nigerians need to be secure in their homes, put food on their tables or live a meaningful life.
The rustic simplicity with which this president views the serious issue of governance is mind-boggling. But even more confounding is his readiness to overlook primary issues of injustice, criminality and bad conduct all in a bid to maintain allegiance to a section of Nigeria. Why has the president found it difficult or near impossible to take any decisive step toward addressing the widespread killings that have turned the Middle Belt and other parts of this country into some kind of abattoirs in which terrorist herdsmen slaughter Nigerians? The simple fact is that the aggressors are the Fulani kith and kin of the president. While it may not be easy to move against our relations it should not be impossible to stop them unleashing terror on others. Buhari has so far been arm-strung in his presidential duties by his protection of Fulani interest. Yet, he could be protective of his ‘people’ while doing justice by Nigerians.
The only reason the security apparatus of this country has failed to act in any way that could be construed as curtailing the impunity of terror Fulani groups whose spokespersons continue to assault our sense of national sensibility by their boastful threats and use of violence, is because the security chiefs can see that President Buhari has no serious interest in taking a stand against the herdsmen. Both his utterances and gestures are clear enough for even the blind to know what the president wants. A president who openly confessed that he had no knowledge that his self-appointed Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, failed to execute his orders but did nothing about it admits his acceptance of the IG’s action.
The increasing calls for the removal of the service chiefs appear rather misplaced and will achieve little if anything at all. The problem with our security architecture lies with the president. The moment he truly wants the security chiefs to act, they will act. The police for example knew how to locate and arrest the armed bandits that unleashed violence in Offa. They needed no presidential order to do that. But with regards to the herdsmen, the cue from the president right now leaves no room for any initiative on the part of the security agencies. This is the reason Buhari has been deaf to calls to remove the service chiefs whose terms in office have been of resounding failure. But Buhari appointed them and they have so far been executing his brief. It would be a case of self-deceit for the president to yield to or join the chorus for the removal of the security chiefs.
Given the spate of killings in the last six months, in view of how many Nigerians have been lost to the activities of killer herdsmen and cattle rustlers this year, it is a shame that we still lay claim to being a country under the rule of law. It is worrisome that in spite of all these killings that are now in their thousands going by available statistics this year alone- it becomes an exercise in sheer insensitivity that President Buhari could entertain thoughts of staying on in office with these many deaths under his watch.
It is dangerous for the corporate existence of this country that a president who casually dismisses criminal campaigns that undermine the legitimacy of not just his presidency but also the very basis of the Nigerian state as farmers-herdsmen clash would want to stand for re-election. If not for any other reason, the fact that about two thousand Nigerians have been killed by terrorists masquerading as herdsmen in this year alone is more than enough reason for Buhari to give up any desire to stand for re-election.
This ought not to be a matter of debate. It is a matter both of decency and morality which should not be difficult for a self-confessed man of integrity like our dear president to understand. Buhari should simply take his leave and return to Daura. This is even if we as Nigerians choose to overlook the different areas in which his administration has failed the people of this country. But, alas, this presidency is not only tone deaf. It is stone deaf. Buhari takes no counsel but his own. He listens to nobody but his own words and he dances to no music but the one from his drummers. It would need more than mere appeal to decency for Buhari to give up his inordinate desire to lead a country whose complexity is every way beyond his simpleminded prescriptions for growth and development. Nigerians need to, must avert the looming danger that four more years under Buhari portends. Or we would, as Theophilus Danjuma has warned, all die one by one.