FORMER PRESIDENT OBASANJO GOT IT WRONG, PRESIDENT BUHARI CANNOT AFFORD TO KEEP QUIET, NIGERIA NEEDS TO BE SAVED
t is very disappointing to hear what the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is saying. He is quoted as saying that President Buhari should not be blamed for Fulani herdsmen's attacks on the farmers in their farms and the senseless killings of the innocent women and children in those attacks in recent months in the country. Media report is quoting the former president as saying that President Buhari should not be blamed for the herdsmen's killings saying that Buhari is not responsible for resolving the Fulani herdsmen's and farmers' clashes. The Former President is further quoted as emphasizing that it should not be President Buhari's responsibility just because he is a Fulani and the herdsmen are Fulani, and added that it is the local governments that should solve Fulani crisis. The former president is further reported as saying that it is the states that are better suited to take the responsibility to solving the unwarranted and senseless problems of the killings of citizens in the country over the years.
In all honesty, Chief Obasanjo is wrong. In the first place, the former president whom I respect very highly missed the point of annoyance of the Nigerian populace in this matter. The Chief has never fumbled as a known statesman that he is. As an elderly statesman and an innovative politician, one wondered how he came about that Buhari is blamless when he, President Buhari, is behaving as if he is not available in the country. I can excuse the former President having shown in his recent candid verdict on President Buhari whom he rightly advised as a statesman to opt out of the next year's election.
Nevertheless, honest and intelligent Nigerians who love this country for what Nigeria is for Africa and the world are unsettled with Buhari now. They are not saying that President Buhari was responsible for the killings by the Fulani herdsmen nor are they holding him responsible for solving the problems even though he is. And, Nigerians are not saying that because Buhari is a Fulani, therefore, he should bear the burden posed by the Fulani cattle rearer. Rather, what the entire Nigerian public and friends of Nigeria and Africa are holding against Buhari is his no statesman's behaviour and criminal silence over a national crisis that has created an unholy tension and fear all over the country. People are afraid to go anywhere; people are fearful for their lives and are scared of what may happen to their lives and property; the killer herdsmen who are Fulani are seen going about, from North to South; East and West, with guns, AK47 unrestricted. Their victims are all Nigerians, Hausas and Southerners, No Fulani extraction has been found to be amongst their slaughtered victims.
The number of people, women and their children and men, who have been slaughtered by the Fulani herdsmen, since the onslaught began many years ago; and the gruesome and alarming nature including the dimension the killings have taken makes this matter of national interest and a crisis that no sane Nigeria should be quiet about it. Furthermore, some of the politically poisonous archival materials coming out from the North of the country and these seemingly calculated killings of Nigerians as being described in this article make this matter an urgent national issue. Here is an example and a sample of the type and nature of the archival documents, the types being referred to in this write up.
"The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather Uthman Dan Fodio.
We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We use the minorities in the North as willing tools and the South
over us and allow them to have control over their future".
Sir Ahmadu Bello,
Oct 12, 1960"
As a result of Buhari's vote, Nigeria lost the position of Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity, OAU to Niger Republic when he was the Head of State of Nigeria in 1985. It has just become public knowledge that he had once voted against Nigeria when he was the Head of State in an inter-continental election contest. The man he voted for was a Fulani from Niger Republic while the man he voted against was a Nigerian. It is against this background Nigerians need to question this unholy silence of our president. Why has the President refused to say a word about the killings and the willful destruction of lives and property including crops and farms?
Muhammadu Buhari is the President and Commander -In- Chief of the Arm-Forces and head of the Federal Government of Nigeria in whose hands the security, care and protection of every Nigerian live is placed. The first priority of any responsible government is the protection of the lives of its citizens. The lives of Nigerians are what the Fulani herdsmen have been wasting away senselessly for a long time now without anyone doing or saying a thing to deter the murderers and to allay their fears. No one has done anything nor has anybody in the security arms of government or in the armed forces; the police has not done or been seen to have said something to prevent a reoccurrence of the killings. And Buhari, the President has not shown any concern that something worthy of note is or has gone wrong? The country is tensed up.
It is the responsibility of government to protect the lives of its citizens because the protection of lives is a supreme duty governments owe its citizens. When a citizen's life is taken illegally, a government and the citizens are concerned and they show it by ensuring that justice is served. Especially that the victims of the Fulani herdsmen are indispensible and valuable members of our society, women and children; these are the most valuable members of any society because they hold the key to the continuous existence of a society. Something is seriously wrong for a president to remain silent when there is a threat confronting such a segment of the society as Buhari appears to be doing.
I have equally come across in the Media where the Emir of Kano, Sanusi criticized the federal government's handling of an alleged attack on some Fulani herdsmen in Taraba state. The Emir is an honorable member of our society. I respect him because he does not speak like a religious fanatic who has no respect for members of other religious or ethnic groups in Nigeria; and also, he is an educated Nigerian who believes in one Nigeria. His criticism was that the Federal Government did not take any action in spite of the evidence of killings he presented. That is the pains one is having because our President does not seems to care for the lives of our people; what the ethnicity or religions of the people are does not matter as long as they are Nigerian citizens should be everyone's concerns.
For a long time, the dastard killings have not stopped and Buhari has said nothing. Only very recently, the Senate gave a 14 day ultimatum to the IG to produce the herdsmen who were involved in the killings at Benue State. There have been many killings all over Nigeria by Fulani herdsmen and no action of any kind has been taken; to at least, assure the people that someone was in control. Some legislators are seen complaining that it is as if no one is in control in the country. There were killings in Etsako in Edo State some time ago upon which women went on protest as a result and they on and blocked the major highway leading from Auchi to Abuja. It was hectic day for motorists. Their grievance was that they have no farms to go to any more. The Fulani herdsmen have driven them away from their farms and they are afraid to go anywhere for fear that the herdsmen will come to rape and kill them while on their farms. It is a known fact that Fulani herdsmen have been raping and killing women all around Nigeria and no one has cared to question. On this recent particular occasion in Etsako, a young mother who was returning from the farm with her husband and two children was gunned down in the presence of her husband and her children.
In other countries, the lives of their citizens are very valuable to them as it should; they can go to any length to defend and protect one citizen's life; they make sure no life is lost illegally, and they go to any length to preserve a citizen's life. It is not the duty of local governments to fight to defend and protect citizens'. We know that it is the duty of local governments to bring activities of federal governments closer to the people at the grass roots levels. The security apparatus of government are under the prerogative of Federal Government. A limited degree of that authority is left with the state in the case of the Nigeria's form of federalism which is why the state will do better at resolving the herdsmen's problems in Nigeria according to Chief Obasanjo. But as to who is charged with the authoritative power to cater for the security of lives and property, it is the Federal Government of the security.
The people in the country are not at peace with what they are witnessing, a criminal silence from their president, in the face of tumultuous and lopsided killings with AK47 totting herdsmen in a country where citizens are not allowed to bear arms; every position of authority, all the ministers, all directors of parastatals and Heads of commissions in the country are all in the hands of the people who are of the same ethnic group of the president; the same ethnic group that the Fulani herdsmen belong. The President must allay the fears of the people of Nigeria that pogroms are not in the making because the news is out today that of the list of Army Officers who were compulsorily retired this last Friday, January 19, 2018, 90% of them all is from the South of Nigeria, in other words, only 10% of the group is from the North of Nigeria while 90% of the retired Army Officers are non-Northerners and probably non-Moslems.
In the light of all that is happening in Nigeria at this time in the history of our country, we will appeal to our former President Obasanjo and those like him to bring President Buhari to the understanding that as a father of the nation, in a Presidential democracy, he cannot afford to keep sealed lips when all is not well in our country. The people have the rights to know. All is not well in the country when all the few rich and powerful in the North are planning to take over people's landed property through creation of grazing colonies in every state in Nigeria. Nigerians need to speak up that it is immoral to make laws to protect only the few rich ones among the lots, and it is the height of man's inhumanity to man to make laws that discriminate against the have not, and it is not done in a democracy.
Omoh T. Ojior, Ph.D. is a Professor of Political Science and the Executive Director/CEO, of Onima Institute USA, Inc