Written by Ikechukwu Amaechi
ME is always amused when some people pretend to be surprised by the bloody developments in Nigeria. Why? It was obvious to any discerning, impartial observer of Nigeria’s recent trajectory that the country would pass quite a bit sooner rather than later. Yes, some misguided political leaders acted as if nothing was wrong. Our leaders, especially in the last six years under the supervision of President Muhammad Bukhari, have acted as if we were isolated from the law of nature which basically determines that the consequences of our evil actions will eventually catch up with us in a negative way.
We shone in the wind for too long, and yet we pretended that the harvest of the whirlwind would not be a natural consequence. It’s the same as living with a lie. As Robert Southey, an English poet of the 19th-century Romantic school, once wrote, “Curses are like a young hen: they always return home to roast.” We have defiled and plundered this land for too long. Under Bukhari’s sovereignty, some people acted as if tomorrow would not be, as if the day of reckoning would never come. Those who called for restraint, justice and fairness were ridiculed and shouted at. Now the chickens have returned home to rest.
It almost occurred to almost everyone that Nigeria is a patient in the fourth stage of cancer. The condition has become metastatic and there are serious doubts about its ability to survive. Her condition has deteriorated so much that there are now serious doubts about whether she will live to 2023.
But how did we get here? Can it be true that Nigerian leaders who arrogantly sat on their high horses lecturing on the inviolability of the country’s territorial integrity really believed that peace could exist without equality and justice? Did those who boasted that Nigeria is a perfect union whose future and the relationship of ethnic nationalities in it cannot even be discussed believe it? Looks like they are. Which explains why those who hoarsely shouted that everything was going south under Bukhari’s supervision were labeled haters.
When suspected cattle breeders killed over 70 villagers in the Logo and Guma local government areas of Benue State on January 1, 2018, sparking outrage across the state, President Bukhari invited state leaders to a lecture on cohabitation. “Please, in the name of God, accept people from your country,” he told a delegation of political leaders, traditional rulers and elders of the state led by Governor Samuel Ortom at the presidential villa in Abuja on January 15, 2018.
The president appealed to the bereaved leaders of Benue, victims of the senseless massacre, “to try to restrain your people,” even as the suspected villains were busy and openly threatening greater violence and death through their umbrella organization, the Association of Livestock Breeders Miyetti Allah of Nigeria. MACBAN, unless the state withdraws its law against open grazing, which was adopted in May 2017 and came into force in November of the same year.
There were no sanctions against the killers even when they swore that when it came to open grazing, it would only be their road or highway. There were no arrests, no one was tried for heinous crimes and no one was punished. Simply put: no one paid any price. Instead, the then Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who was ordered by Bukhari to move to the state of Benue on January 9, 2018, in order to restore order and prevent further attacks by farmers on villagers – an order he reiterated in his January 25 letter. The Senate that “ordered the Inspector General of Police to move to the state of Benue” and “redirected forces to the most sensitive areas” – flagrantly violated the order by spending only three days touring the state before returning to Abuja without the president’s knowledge.
When Buhari’s attention was drawn to an apparent attack on his authority by the IGP, which described the January 1 killings as “communal conflicts,” he did nothing, implying that the order should not have been obeyed. Of course, attacks and killings continued not only on Benue but also on the plateau, Nasarawa, Tarabi, Adamawa and Kaduna, and Benue was the epicenter of deadly violence.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the presidency warned Nigerians, especially residents of the Plateau State, six months later not to stick to their ancestors if they wanted to stay alive. Speaking during the program at African Independent Television, AIT, On July 4, 2018, the President’s Special Adviser to the Media and Advertising, Femi Adesina, answering a question about people’s attachment to their ancestral countries, said, “Ancestor commitment? You can only have the attachment of your ancestors while you are alive. If you’re talking about ancestral bonding, if you’re dead, how is bonding related to that? “
In order to have peace in the homeland, Adesina said that the natives must hand over their ancestral territories to people who are his chief, the president, once admitted, are not even Nigerians. “If your country really doesn’t have land to grow, that’s understandable … But where you have land and you can do something, do it for peace. What will the land be used for if those who own it are dead at the end of the day? “
Interestingly, the warning was issued on the same day that then-House Speaker Yakubu Dogara warned that history would be harsh for the Bukhari administration if it failed to stop the mass killing of innocent Nigerians. Welcoming his colleagues on Eid al-Fitr on July 4, 2018, Dogara warned: “History will have a harsh judgment for us as a government if we do not fulfill that responsibility and it will not matter if we succeed in other areas.” “
His warning was not heeded. The federal government continued to bury its head in the sand. An important issue of uncertainty has been reduced to mere rhetoric. Each new wave of killings was accompanied by a government bombing – mere words, no action. Instead of taking action against criminals, the regime resorted to what the late Afroeat maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, called “government magic,” making villains out of victims.
For example, although it failed to arrest and prosecute AK-47 ranchers who brutally killed dozens in Adamawa State, the government instead arrested, prosecuted, and secured the death penalty against five natives for the alleged murder of one of the killers.
The same situation was in the state of Kaduna where Governor Nasir el-Rufai accused the leaders of South Kaduna whom he called “criminals” in August 2020 of making trouble with their administration for refusing to lubricate their palms with dirty lubricant. “I don’t have time for nonsense. I will not calm the criminals. I will not appease unemployed people who have nothing but to raise the specter of genocide. They do this in order to pay money into their bank accounts and receive donations from abroad, instead of getting up, ”the governor said during the interview. Channels Television.
Calling the victims murderers, al-Rufai went on to say: “Anyone who is moderate, anyone who promotes peaceful coexistence between different ethnic groups is considered a sale. And a governor like me, who doesn’t calm them down because they’re used to calming them down, they create problems, they organize those murders, and then, the governor calls them, wine and dinner leaders, and they give them brown envelopes. They have been doing this for 20 years. “
So, like a son sent by his father to steal, who does not go undercover, but brazenly kicks in the door, shepherds have outwitted each other, attacking the forests of the South, and people are pushing hard to the point that the country’s corporate existence is seriously threatened.
Truth be told, Bukhari is not honest with Nigerians. What is happening is not a crisis of cattle breeders and farmers. It is an extremely deceptive narrative. As long as some Nigerians live in IDP camps, and robbers have driven them out of their ancestral homes, mostly non-citizens, peace will still be elusive.
Why is the Nigerian state, which according to sociologist Weber is that political institution that claims an exclusive monopoly on violence, unable to drive out those gangs and relocate the natives? Does the government claim it is unaware of the fact that many people in IDP camps cannot go to their farms unless they want to return in body bags? Does Bukhari claim to be unaware that these ancestral homelands are effectively occupied by non-indigenous people?
Nigerians want peace, but it must be peace raised on the totem pole of equality, justice and fairness. Anything shorter than that will mean doom for everyone.