PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari was in Jos, Plateau State, recently to commiserate with the government on the carnage inflicted on its citizens by Fulani herdsmen. In the wake of the attack on Barkin Ladi, Riyom and some parts of Jos South Local Government, the president, who promptly visited the state, was apparently sad at the level of bloodshed in the attacks. While offering his condolences, Buhari said: “I contested for this position (presidency) four times before I got it, so I cannot complain of the challenges we are facing. Nobody can say that we haven’t done well in terms of security, we have done our best; but the way this situation is now, we can only pray.”
During a visit to Taraba State in March this year, Buhari had resorted to a comparison of the figures of the dead across states. He said that the crisis in the Mambilla Plateau had claimed more lives than herdsmen’s killings in states like Benue and Zamfara. The carnage in Taraba was said to have had a huge number of Fulani kinsmen as victims. “As a president, I have sources of getting intelligence on happening across the country and so I should not be expected to always go out to the field to make noise and insult the sensibility of Nigerians before it would be known that I am taking action against the killings. There were more killings in Mambilla (Taraba) than Benue and Zamfara states. I chose to visit Taraba first, but I will be going to Benue and Zamfara after I return from Ghana to also condole with the people,” he had said.
While in Benue State, Buhari had asked the people to accommodate their “fellow countrymen,” apparently referring to the herdsmen who had turned Benue into a field of blood. In Jos last week, the president reiterated the same line of thought. But perhaps the most definitive indication of his mindset was his submission that he had tried his best, and that the people should pray to ensure security in Nigeria. If indeed the president has done his best, his best is clearly neither enough nor desirable for the people of Nigeria. Since the carnage in Plateau State on January 1 where over 100 people were killed, more people have been killed in the same state and in other parts of the country, with the government demonstrating inability to tackle this menace all the time. Since, according to authorities on the state, security is the bedrock of governance and a government which fails to provide security for its people is not worthy of its name, the Buhari government’s so-called best amounts to glaring failure.
Perhaps more troubling to Nigerians is the resignation to unseen forces which President Buhari chose to make on the incessant killings by herdsmen. By saying that prayer is the only solution available to Nigeria, the president is invariably affirming the inability of his government to tame the onslaughts of these terrorists masquerading as herders. He himself affirmed the terrorist inclination of the herdsmen when he said that herders in the past were only known to carry sticks with which they whipped their cattle into line but that nowadays, herders carry weapons like AK-47. To now say that he is unable to curtail the nefarious activities of these herders is, to our mind, unbecoming of a modern-day government.
We recall that the current administration demonstrated a resoluteness that was legendary in crushing the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), which it promptly declared a terrorist organisation. It is not on record that IPOB killed innocent Nigerians, yet the governmental ferocity with which its members were hounded out of town bore the stamp of a government which would not consign its duties to some unseen forces. If the president didn’t ask Nigerians to pray to curtail the menace of IPOB, we are astounded that he is asking the same people to pray, now that Fulani herdsmen are actually terrorising Nigeria at a colossal level.
Buhari’s penchant for comparing casualties in the country and his recent show of helplessness about herders’ killings are the mark of a government that is either too feeble to act or hamstrung from acting by some palpably less-than-patriotic conditions. To start with, what kind of president engages in comparing casualties? Second, if all the nation needed to secure the country were prayers as Buhari reasoned, he is apparently not the right person to be at the helms of the prayer band. If local religious icons would not suffice, Nigeria could perhaps procure the services of the Pope in leading the prayers.
We are of the opinion that the problem of insecurity in Nigeria is basically solvable. We are persuaded that the Nigerian security apparatchik possesses the wherewithal to confront the herders. All that is needed is for the president to show a no-nonsense attitude, which the security establishment will go to town with and mow down those who have turned Nigeria into a river of blood. If the Presidency demonstrates enough resolve, it will tame the bloodthirsty herders and return peace to Nigeria.