July 1, 2018

In Plateau, it’s countdown to extinction

In Plateau, it’s countdown to extinction

•3 died daily since January 2018

By Charles Kumolu, Deputy Features Editor

Having become a regular occurrence, the latest killings in Plateau State were not surprising despite its scale. Instead, it re-echoed how worthless life has become in Nigeria.

This was the cold picture the Plateau massacre presented to this reporter.

Efforts at figuring out how these killings happen in succession despite the deployment of troops to affected areas, brought back memories of an album by Megadeth titled: Countdown to Extinction.

The 1992 song by the American band which was known for its politically oriented lyrics had tremendous social and philosophical impact.

The lyrics explored a situation where an average citizen is placed in a position where he runs a country and the resulting effects.

Music critiques believe the lines spoke truth to power.

The song is so emblematic of the killing spree in the state and other parts of Nigeria, to the extent that the mere posting of the lyrics by this reporter on the social media, attracted comments on the Plateau killings.

Tell the truth

That was even when the post titled: Lyrics of Megadeth’s Countdown to Extinction on my Mind made no reference to the menace on the Plateau and other places.

The lines, as written by Dave Mustaine, reads: “Endangered species, caged in fright. Shot in cold blood, no chance to fight. The stage is set, now pay the price.

‘’An ego boost, don’t think twice. The battle’s unfair. You pull the hammer without a care. Squeeze the trigger that makes you ‘’Man’’

Pseudo-safari, the hunt is canned. The hunt is canned. All are gone, all but one. No contest, nowhere to run. No more left, only one. This is it; this is the Countdown to Extinction

“Tell the truth, you wouldn’t dare. The skin and trophy, oh so rare. Silence speaks louder than words. Ignore the guilt and take your turn. Liars’ anagram is “lairs”.   Man you were never even there.

Killed a few feet from the cages. Point blank, you’re so courageous.  One hour from now  another species of life form will disappear off the face of the planet. Forever and the rate is accelerating. This is it; this is the Countdown to Extinction.”

Simplistic narratives

Prominent among the responses to the post was that of Uzomah Enukorah.

And she wrote: “Countdown to extinction” With due respect this sort of simplistic narratives has not solved the problem of senseless killings of poor people since the civil war in 66. Herdsmen in Nigeria are predominantly Muslims from the north.   Why will they want to kill their own in Zamfara, Taraba, and Bauchi among others? We need to dig deeper to get to the root of this madness. You lived in the North like I did for many years and probably saw nomads criss-cross farmlands for pasture to graze cattle. And locals lived and tolerated these same “Herdsmen”. So what suddenly triggered their “Jihadist proclivity “. We need to ask the important questions because innocent lives are being wasted.”

As instructive as her observations were, the description of the summary of the lyrics as simplistic underscored the general failure at dispassionately accepting the menace for what it is.

Such assertion is not in isolation as constructive opinions on the subject, had most times been viewed with partisan lenses, especially by sympathizers of the ruling government.

Flashpoints in the country

For instance, in a move described as unpopular, the Presidency dismissed the declaration of seven days of mourning   by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,   as “crocodile tears.”

It further listed some killings that had taken place in Nigeria during PDP rule, in a manner that suggested that more people were killed under the PDP.

Though the PDP was repaid in its own coin, as it had accused the APC in 2014 of being responsible for a bomb blast in Abuja, observers argued that treading  on the same path trivialises the matter.

Whichever way it is viewed, the trend across the communities in Plateau State and other flashpoints in the country unarguably amounts to Countdown to Extinction.

To make matters worse, the quality of responses from concerned authorities after each killing always end up encouraging future occurrence,  Sunday  Vanguard, observed.

The fact that nearly 500 people had died in the state this year due to attacks by suspected herdsmen explains the alarming scale of the killings.

For instance, a special report by this paper in February revealed that in the first 10 weeks of the year, 54 people died in the state under similar circumstances.

In April, the figure increased by 30, according to an investigative report by another national daily, bringing the number of people killed across the state by suspected herdsmen to 84 persons.

With the latest incident and a pocket of others preceding it,  Sunday  Vanguard finds it safe to say that the casualty figure in the state since January could be inching closer to 500.

This implies that no fewer than three people had been killed daily in Plateau since January 2018.

Endangered species

The scary statistics and the way the attacks had been massively carried out in the affected villages, resonate the title of this piece.

If the attacks could happen as claimed by the villagers without being repelled by security agents deployed to the areas, then, the people are truly “endangered species, caged in fright. Shot in cold blood, with no chance to fight.”

The accounts of some survivors, detailing how the attacks were carried out, explain much about how Plateau communities are retrogressing to the Hobbesian state of nature where life is short, nasty and brutish.

While it is true, that violent clashes in the state predated this administration and even its predecessor, buck-passing de-emphasises the need for decisiveness.   Relying on the same old template would never realise any gain against rampaging herdsmen.

And as long as Chapter 2 (b) of the 1999 Constitution states that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government,’’ Nigerians look up to no one else but the present government for an end to the reign of terror.