By Deji Yesufu
Following the January 1st and 2nd Fulani herdsmen’s attack on communities in the Guma and Logo local government areas of Benue State which resulted in the deaths of over 70 persons, including children, there has been widespread anger in the Nigeria.
This writer very likely underestimated people’s frustrations with the Federal Government until I arrived church last Sunday. There was an ongoing Bible Study and the discussion, incidentally, centred around God’s instructions to Israel on handling people’s cattle that stray, as recorded in the book of Exodus.
Then the question was directed to the small congregation in the group I was in, asking how we should handle the present Fulani herdsmen situation in the land. Note that the Bible Study manual had long been produced before the Benue crisis.
A woman responded to the question by calling on Christians to take up arms against the Fulani herdsmen. Even when she was cautioned that there was nothing Christian about such an action, she insisted that this was the right way forward. Surprisingly, many of the people in the group agreed with her. This writer could not but be alarmed at how Christians will readily let go of the virtue of tolerance and patience, and quickly resort to self help in times like this.
It is obvious that there is palpable anger in the land.
The cases of clashes between farmers and herdsmen is a long existing situation in Nigeria. Every administration in this country has had to deal with the problem.
On the 13th of October, 2000, the then Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.), led a team of eminent northern Nigerians to the office of Governor Lam Adesina, the Governor of Oyo State at that time.
In that meeting, which was reported to have been heated, Buhari told the Governor that Fulani herdsmen were being killed by residents of Saki, in the Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State. Gov’ Lam Adesina calmly listened to the aggrieved General and his entourage and then invited the state commissioner of police to corroborate the story.
The Police Commissioner indeed agreed that there had been clashes in Saki but that contrary to Buhari’s report, it was residents of Saki that had been reportedly killed by the Fulani herdsmen.
He stated that as the crisis ensued, both sides lost people in the crisis. At the close of the meeting, Buhari and his entourage were shown the true picture; the crisis in Saki had resulted in the deaths of both herdsmen and residents of Saki.
This story is retold to state the fact that Fulani herdsmen attack is not a new development in the country. It is usually caused by herdsmen who unwittingly lead their cattle to farmlands where crops end up being destroyed. The people become angry and attack these men and their cattle, and this usually leads to the death of innocent people.
Nevertheless, available records show that since the inception of this administration, attacks by Fulani herdsmen have become quite widespread.
Until the latest attacks in Benue State, the administration of Muhammadu Buhari had usually not heeded public cry to curtail the violence of these cattle herders.
This article is a difficult one to write because this writer is foremost supporter of the Buhari administration. We used every available means to ensure that this government came to power in 2015.
Thus we have equally come under attack by the public for this administration’s inability to provide security for Nigerians against the rampaging activities of killer herdsmen.
When Buhari won the 2015 Presidential elections, after four attempts, one man visited the newly elected President. This young man represented the whole blogging community in Nigeria that utilized the enormous power of the Social Media to campaign for the President. That young man was Japhet Omojuwa.
Omojuwa told the President in clear terms that young Nigerians had come together to remove an incumbent and have now entrusted their future in the hands of Buhari. He told the President that if he, Buhari, fails to deliver, we will simply utilize the same media to remove him from office in 2019. It would be our democratic right to do so. The President quipped then that was Omojuwa threatening him; a question that elicited much laughter.
The situation in Nigeria at present, however, is no laughing matter. My position is simple: as of 2015, the best candidate was elected into office. There is no point regretting that action; we should simply be preparing for another election in 2019. If Nigerians feel that Buhari has not provi1ded them security, it is within their democratic rights to vote him out of office.
This is not a threat; it is democracy.
At the same time, the Buhari administration needs to buckle up and put up more measures to ensure security in the land. After numerous herdsmen attack on peaceful communities in the country, incidence of which have been on the increase with the advent of this government, this government must put in measures to ensure that lives and properties of Nigerians are safeguarded.
The suggestion by the government to set up grazing reserves for cattle rearing must be implemented immediately. Unfortunately, some states in the country have indicated that they are not interested in such ranches located on their lands; government must respect their wishes and locate these ranches in states where the people’s occupation is mostly cattle rearing.
This government must realize that just as Boko Haram and the Chibok girls crisis swallowed up the government of Goodluck Jonathan, the Buhari government stands a risk of being voted out office because of the activities of killer herdsmen in the land. It is therefore their duty to curtail these violence before people begin to take laws into their hands.
On a final note: I wish to call all Nigerians to maintain peace and harmony in their respective abodes. It is animalistic and anachronistic for us to take laws into our hands. Christians should know better than suggesting retaliation. Vengeance belongs to God, our holy book says, and God says he would repay every evil worker sufficiently.
Modern societies do not resort to the fist to settle disputes; rather we talk and we use the legitimate powers that are in our hands. The legitimate powers in the hands of the Nigerian people is their power to vote in leaders they are sure can lead them well. If the Buhari government fails to protect the electorate, they have the right to do the needful.
This is a simple call to good governance; this is why we removed an incumbent in 2015 and entrusted our lives and destinies in the hands of this administration.