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Plateau massacre: Why political niceties will not suffice

By Mazi Sam-Ohuabunwa

AFTER my articles titled  “Fulani Herdsmen Militancy: International help now indicated” in January this year and “Serious challenges confronting PMB’s three-point agenda” in February, I was not planning to comment any longer on the despicable daily killing of Nigerians in the Middle Belt of Nigeria and elsewhere. Since it looked like the government felt it was doing well in running a country where life has become brutish and short and the citizens seem to have resigned to their fate, I felt it was a waste of my time commenting on the matter. Last October when 20 people were killed in Plateau, the President issued a statement which stated “that this madness has gone too far.” From all indications the madness just seems to be forming and may just be getting started on its journey! But try as hard as I could, the humanity in me would not allow, the mind of Christ constrains me.

Last week news broke of how a contingent of Fulani militia carried out a-seven hour coordinated and simultaneous operations across three local government areas in Plateau State- Bassa, Bokkos and Mangu and when they were done, about 200 Nigerians had been despatched to gruesome and untimely death. Among them were children and pregnant women. Pictures of infants and children who had deep knife cuts and bled to death and mass of murdered men and women arranged like sardines assaulted my sanity and I cried: What kind of wickedness is this? What kind of hatred will lead to this? Which kind of government is this that has repeatedly failed to perform its primary role of protecting its citizens?

My pain was worsened by the realization that it is the poor and their families that are the victims of this man’s inhumanity to man and crass failure of government to protect the poor. Perhaps that’s why the problem persists. The day important Nigerians or their family members are killed in this uncontrolled and seemingly uncontrollable carnage across the nation, I bet a more determined action will be taken.

Meanwhile we return to our now familiar past time of paying condolence visits and commiserating with the dead. Thereafter we issue platitudes and lame declarations: “The perpetrators will be arrested. Government shall leave no stone unturned.” We then turn into our cars or jets and wait for the next strike and government officials will return to go through the same rituals. Are we beyond shame in this country? When can a man resign from a job and declare that this is beyond him? Very nauseating to live in this kind of country where human savagery has returned in full force and trust in government to protect lives has waned.

A few weeks ago, Abdulaziz Yari, Governor of Zamfara State whose citizens have faced continuous assault by bands of blood-thirsty militia shocked the nation. He resigned as the chief security officer of his state. That was a very courageous thing to do, but it was only symbolic, to send a strong message to the federal government that he was tired of playing the ostrich. After every attack with its resultant carnage, he would receive assurance from the federal government and the security agencies which they control, first that the perpetrators would be arrested and prosecuted, and second, that everything would be done to ensure there was no further attack and then,the very next day, a worse attack would happen and the ritual would be repeated.

The security chiefs will visit and order new formations and deployment and just by the side of the new deployment, the attackers would drive in, kill the citizens of Zamfara and leave. When interrogated, the security commanders would complain of insufficient equipment and poor welfare. Governor Yari will then deploy the resources of the people of Zamfara meant for education or healthcare to buy patrol vehicles, sundry equipment and provide welfare for the forces. Then after this, a new attack occurs and nothing changes.

When he tries to direct the security officers on what to do, they say they are waiting to hear from Abuja! The man who has long been frustrated by seeing his people killed like chicken everyday and yet he could not effectively stop the killing even while decorated with the title of ‘chief security officer’ for his State, simply lost his cool, put politics away, forgot about party loyalty and announced his symbolic resignation. I salute his courage for knowing when to separate governance from politics .

Contrast this with Simon Bako Lalong, the governor of Plateau State where the massacre took place last week. May be I should have said where the latest massacre took place, because everybody except perhaps Lalong and his irk who believe that party loyalty must transcend good governance and that personality cult worship must undermine confronting chronic poor performance, knows that Plateau State was where this cattle herdsmen militancy started and when the right statistics are taken, Plateau State has suffered the highest casualty and loss of property than any other state in the region.

Yet this man had the presence (or is it absence?) of mind to mock and blame Samuel Ortom, blaming the Fulani militia attacks on Benue on Governor Ortom’s anti grazing bill. Last week when our President, who has become condoler-in-chief visited Plateau, Lalong wasted precious moments playing politics. Hear him: “Mr President, your government has made it clear and you have eloquently stated that you will continue to protect and preserve the sanctity of life. Agents of destabilization are, however, hell bent on making nonsense of the success you have achieved in dealing with internal security threats to our corporate existence as a nation….As a rescue administration of the All Progressive Congress government, which you lead, we wish to assure you that we stand with you, shoulder to shoulder in your efforts to solve the myriad of challenges confronting us as a nation, in your quest to bequeath to posterity a stable virile nation.”

Very good campaign speech, politically correct. But how will that assuage the bleeding and mourning citizens of Plateau State who have been so systemically decimated and subdued over many years. The more important question is, how will blaming the so called agents of destabilization stop the next attacks which may happen even as we are writing or reading this? Lalong was looking for agents of destabilization when the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore had severally justified the killings as reprisal for cow stealing or killing of Fulani herdsmen or for enacting the anti-open grazing bill. Rather than join Governor Ortom in insisting that those who have confessed to being accessories to the crime should be arrested and prosecuted, he was speaking in parables. As long as leaders like Lalong continue to play politics with the lives of their citizens to assure their re-election or to remain good boys, the longer it will take to bring this ‘madness’to an end.

 


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