The Hub

July 26, 2018

The killing fields of Nigeria

The killing fields of Nigeria

Benue killings

By Josef Omorotionmwan

The powers in the hands of a Nigerian President are enormous; and indeed, awesome. The President possesses the power of life and death over his fellow humans. In a simple exercise of the prerogative of mercy as stipulated in Section 175 of the Nigerian Constitution, 1999, he can bring back to unfettered freedom, a man who was already destined for the gallows.

In a single fiat or with a single stroke of his biro, the President can promote a citizen from abject poverty to instant wealth by simply pronouncing on the man, a contract for which the man may not even lift a finger in performance, and millions in real money will begin to flow into an account named after that man; and his life is transformed forever!

At the inception of his administration, a former President of Nigeria boasted that he was going to make five billionaires in his time; and at the last count, he had made six billionaires – the original five plus himself. He was perhaps oblivious of the fact that with every billionaire produced in a system, several millions of other citizens in that system would correspondingly be pauperized. That’s one law of nature that provides no escape route.

Again, as happens with the weather for which everyone complains while nobody can do anything about it, the President soon finds himself faced with a number of problems that will not bow to his commands, no matter how hard he tries. The security of Nigeria has since become a sore point that defies presidential action or inaction.

At a time, the entire nation lost sleep to the Niger Delta Militants who claimed, rightly or wrongly, that they were on a rescue mission to protect the goose that laid the golden egg.

The militants had hardly vacated the scene when the Boko Haram sect took over, using the North-East Region as a launching pad, they devastated the entire country.

Then came the dare-devils that have refused to abate – the Fulani herdsmen. They are currently ravaging the entire country.

The herdsmen versus the farmers’ imbroglio may have succeeded in turning the President Muhammadu Buhari administration into a clueless and uncaring bunch of people. Since the beginning of this year, the Middle-Belt area of the country has witnessed the most bizarre series of killings, starting with the 75 people slaughtered in Benue State on New Year’s Day. Still more dastardly were the 19 worshippers, including 2 Revered Fathers, who were massacred in a Catholic Church, also in Benue State.

As at April this year, a national newspaper had put the number of deaths in the hands of the herdsmen murderers at well over 900. Everyone has since lost count of the casualty figures and the end is not in sight.

Yet, the Buhari administration remains clueless. We are facing the moral equivalent of war. This worse-than-cancer epidemic before us must be cured, lest we shall all perish. Where did we go wrong? The answer here is important because we must move forward. There must be an end to this quagmire.

The impression is given that what the President has for some of his men transcends respect and goes into the realm of fear. For example, there is no escaping the inevitable conclusion that the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris has since become a loose cannon – loyal only to his own ambition. For him, the President, the National Assembly and the Judiciary count for nothing. And the President looks on?

The Defence Minister, Mansur Dan-Ali, is in a world of his own, issuing his own proclamation of sorts – condemning and single-handedly quashing anti-grazing legislations that were validly enacted by democratically elected State Assemblies. And the President looks the other way?

Members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association openly claim responsibility for the wanton killings, maintaining they are all reprisals for their lost or killed cows. Yet, we have a sitting government and nobody is asking the professed killers any question?

Our President seems totally lost on the fact that even more important than winning the election is governing the nation. That is the acid test of a good presidency. When our President speaks, he does so with a tone of voice that openly suggests that apart from the next election, nothing else counts. Otherwise, why would our President use the opportunity of a sympathy visit to Jos, a war ravaged area, to begin to castigate those criticizing him for mishandling the murderous activities of the herdsmen – as he did in Jos on Tuesday, June 27, 2018. This could easily portray him as inept and grossly insensitive to the plight of the people.

In peace and in war, federal character – as expressed in Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution is not a term in the abstraction – it is real. This is one area where our President could easily be guilty as charged. We shall here restrict ourselves to just one narrow confine of the nation’s security. Apart from the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; the Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, and Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olanisakin, all other members of the Security Council are from the North: President Buhari himself; Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazau; Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Alli; National Security Adviser, Babagana Mongonu; Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris; Director-General, SSS; Lawal Daura; D-G, National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Abubakar; Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai; and Chief of Air Staff, Sadiq Abubakar. This is the type of aberration that runs through the length and breadth of the President’s appointments.

The few considerations here are purely cautionary. In very small measures, these considerations enter into the equation of the worsening security situation in the country. All told, the President has the yam and the knife. For all we know, it might be fool-hardy to expect all the people to continue accepting unreflective violation of their lives at the behest of individual consciences. A word is enough for the wise!