Government silence, failure over communal clashes is killing

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The deafening silence and failure of Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) following clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers and communal clashes in different parts of the country is not helping matters.

One would have expected the Presidency to address is as a matter of urgency while speaking to his people and taking proactive and strategic actions to stop the carnage and bring offenders to book, yet our President has been behaving to type as he had kept mute over a potential time bomb.

It is quite interesting to note that the herders-farmers clashes increased after the 2015 general elections which brought in PMB as new President of Nigeria ahead of Goodluck Jonathan.

The herder-farmer conflicts, typically involving disputes over land or cattle or both between herders mostly of Fulani race and farmers in particular the Adara, Beron, Tiv and Tarok races of Benue and Taraba states, have reached a new high in recent time.

According to the International Crisis Group, about 2,500 people have died from communal clashes this year alone. Over 100,000 have fled their ancestral homes and are living in Internally Displaced centers around the country.

While governors of the affected states and federal lawmakers have called PMB to task, he has not done much to address a matter that has led to many Nigerian deaths. Sometimes, I am bereft of words as to describe a leader that is taciturn and cannot take a decision on  matters of life and death.

According to Amnesty international, it is reported that communal clashes is the cause of death of 3,600 Nigerians from 2014-2016. Amnasty International reported that the killings were perpetrated by mostly angry Fulani herders in retaliation to poisoned cattle by farmers. The nomads usually lead their cattle to any arable areas and in the process they stray into farm lands destroying crops. As a result, farmers often poison these animals or arrest them leading to night ambushes and killings of farmers and their families.

On the other hand, the clashes have degenerated into religious and ethnic wars. While herdsmen are predominantly Muslims, farmers in the middle belt regions are Christians. The difference in religion has escalated the crisis to a fatal point as the parties don’t see themselves as the same in any way.

A chronicle of similar clashes shows that the herdsmen usually have an upper hand in the fight which has resulted to maiming and killings of farmers and their families.

For example, on June 2015, herdsmen attacked Motokun village in Patigi LGA, Kwara state and Ninji and Ropp village in Plateau state killing 27 people. The same group reportedly murdered 70 Christians in Plateau state.

On January 24, 2016, a Nigerian Police chief and 29 others were reportedly killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen. And barely a month after, 10 were killed and over 300 fled their homes at Tom-Anyim and Tom-Ataan in Buruku LGA of Benue state while in March, suspected herdsmen overran Agatu LGA killing 500 locals and displacing 700 more in the same state.

Yet in April, a politician, Mr Aondohemba Kasa, was reportedly killed by suspected herdsmen in Benue state.

It was the turn of Taraba state on April 19, when Fulani herdsmen attacked Dori and Mesuma villages in Taraba state killing 15.

The attacks and killings assumed such frequent dimension with daring onslaught moving as far as Enugu, Anambra, Ekiti and Ondo states in the eastern and western areas of the country. It has become a daily happening and report on local and international media. Yet our President is not talking.

Granted that from land disputes, the crisis has escalated into political, religion and ethnic disputes, but one thing that is constant is the death of Nigerians. As such it is something to be taken serious by President Buhari. His silence is indeed killing.

Sadly, PMB has been linked, though in hush voices, to the daring acts of the Fulanis since he assumed leadership of the country and the fact that he has remained mute over the subject speaks volume.

I dare say the federal government has the prerogative of enforcing the laws of the land. The states may be handicapped because the security apparatus belongs to the federal government; be it the army or the Police.

One of PMB’s cardinal campaign points is absolute security for Nigerians from external and internal aggressors. What we are experiencing for months now is both external and internal killings from nearly everywhere in the country. While Nigerians from the core north region are been slaughtered by Boko Haram, the middle belt regions, east and west regions are been killed by Fulani herdsmen. It is an aberration and this government has failed us.

Benue state has passed a law banning nomadic herdsmen but the attacks and retaliatory attacks have not stopped. It is time for the federal might to be felt.

PMB need to realise that the votes of only Fulani people couldn’t have landed him in Aso Rock. He needed other votes from the south, west and middle belt to win the election. He must see himself as the President of all Nigerians and begin to act as one.

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