(EDITORIAL) Herdsmen Crisis: A Laudable Pro-Active Initiative From The Ogbeni

The helmsman steering the ship of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has once again demonstrated the need to be pro-active. This is reflected in the strategic imperatives adopted by the government of the state to prevent herdsmen attacks which has been prevalent in some neighbouring states.

The policies, well thought out and assiduously implemented, have made sure that such attacks have not been pronounced in the state.

We give kudos to the Ogbeni for the far-sighted adoption of this strategic framework long before the issue hit the front pages and became a national security threat across the country. The enormity of what has become a threatening national security calamity is reflected in the letter sent to the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria three days ago by the president, Muhammad Buhari.

The President’s letter was in response to the Senate’s which detailed its resolutions on the killings and the way out of the development.

The government of the State of Osun saw it all coming. As far back as June 2014, a committee had been set up to interface between Fulani/Bororo herdsmen and farmers in the state, as well as sorting out any potential, perceived or actual grievances from their respective activities. Had this been done in other states, this national crisis would have been avoided.

We cannot wish away the problems of climate change, a weak internal security mechanism and clashes of culture. But to acknowledge the Chinese ideography for crises, we can turn danger into opportunity to ensure peaceful co-existence amongst and within communities.

This is illustrated in the statement of the state’s Commissioner for Special Duties, Honourable Mudashir Togun that “in addressing them, (potential area of friction which can turn into full blown crisis) the government has provided 11 boreholes in their various settlements, gave them Hajj slots, and renovated nomadic schools in various settlements in collaboration with the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB). All these have given the herdsmen and farmers the confidence that the government is actually determined to ensure peace between the two parties.

“Sometimes, there are issues of some disgruntled herdsmen destroying farmlands, and because of the sincerity of the government and the involvement of the Fulani/Bororos in the state, we were able to identify such cases and where necessary facilitate compensations for such farmers.”

This is the way to go and the sensible thing to do. Once again from the State of Osun, there is always something trailblazing. Just as the state gifted the nation the uplifting free school meals program which has now been adopted by the federal government and initiated in many states, the effective pro-active containment strategies adopted to stem the herdsmen/farmers clashes should be incorporated into a new policy by the federal government to be adopted by the states and the local governments.

Sensible policies save money, lives and prevent social upheavals. Any right thinking person must put aside partisan bickering and give kudos to the pro-active Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. By his astuteness, the Ogbeni commendably averted dislocation, as well possible loss of lives. For doing so, he has earned our gratitude.

Senate Summons Ibrahim Idris Over 14-Day Ultimatum

The Senate has resolved to summon the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, for failing to apprehend perpetrators of the Benue killings.

Recall that the Senate had upon resumption of plenary this year, given the IGP a 14-day ultimatum to arrest and investigate those responsible for the killing of 73 residents in Benue state.

A lawmaker, Joshua Lidani (APC, Gombe), reminded his colleagues that actions in respect to that resolution have still not been effected.

“The Senate clearly resolved that the Inspector-General of Police be given two weeks to which he should identify and arrest all those who perpetrated the killings in Benue.

“This resolution was passed and was transmitted to the IGP but to the best of my knowledge no arrest has been made and no information has been brought to the senate as regards the resolution,” he said.

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, expressed disappointment at the IGP, while re-emphasising that the integrity of the Senate must be respected, adding that those kinds of ultimatums cannot be taken lightly.

He therefore mandated the Senate Committees on Police and Intelligence to summon the IGP.

“Summon the IG to come before you by tomorrow to make an explanation on where we are on this two-week ultimatum. These two committees should report to us by Tuesday on where we are.

“If by Tuesday we are not happy with their report we can take a decision to summon the IG. If they think we are just going to sweep this thing under the carpet the answer is definitely no.

“We are not going to stop until people are made to account for their responsibilities – like the President said in his letter, he has told the IG to ensure speedy prosecution and we are not seeing that. The IG knows that he needs to take this seriously,” he said.


Suspected Fulani Herdsmen Kill Nine In Kaduna

Unknown gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen have allegedly killed nine people in a rural community in Kaduna on Wednesday.

The incident occurred at Kaguru village in Birnin Gwari local government area.

According to Sahara Reporters, a local who escaped the attack said that the gunmen came in several vehicles chanting religious slogans when they carried out the act.

He also said they burnt down several houses in the village.


PHOTOS: Delta Youths Nab Armed Fulani Herdsmen

The youths from Okpe town in Delta State on Wednesday morning disarmed some Fulani herdsmen who allegedly invaded the town.

The herdsmen numbering over eight were arrested with several dangerous weapons, including guns.

Photos show that the alleged herdsmen have been arrested but the Delta state police command still hasn’t confirmed the arrest.

Herdsmen And Olusegun Obasanjo

By Lasisi Olagunju

Herdsmen are the new vultures of Nigeria. Everyday they flap down south to eat intestines of surprised cassava farmers. They are the terror eagle daily gliding down to feed on the liver of the one planting the village maize. When relations in their sorrow cry and weep, the herdsmen’s hawk pounces down to eat the crying eyes of the bereaved. Everyone is worried, terrified. Everything has its assigned place in life. Maize has its ridges, cow its ranch. There is a problem when rapacious vulture leaves its place on the baobab tree to feed in the easy nest of the dove. That is what Fulani herdsmen are doing to farmers and the government says the aggrieved should not shout. The killed should accommodate their killers. The herders in power also want to kill the gong and its voice. The government calls it hate speech. They say it must stop or those who spew it get frozen like eja oku Eko, fish of the poor.

The Buhari government enjoys digging its own grave everyday. Everything it does progressively drops its signal from 4G to No service. And many of us feel really sorry that we have to write against the spirit of esprit de corps. That is the spirit we’ve always had for our own Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu. These are gentlemen who don’t deserve the Sisyphean job they do for Muhammadu Buhari. King Sisyphus in Greek mythology did well for his people but he was crafty, deceitful and wicked. Authors of the myth say he “promoted navigation and commerce but was avaricious and deceitful. He also killed travellers and guests…He took pleasure in these killings because they allowed him to maintain his iron-fisted rule.”

For doing these horrible things, Sisyphus was condemned to roll, for eternity, a massive rock up a hill. His eternal task is simple. He rolls the rock uphill, gets almost to the top only for the rock to roll back. He starts again almost to the top and the rock rolls back to the bottom. He is still there as you read this, rolling, sweating, swearing, as the rock, for eternity, rolls back to the base of the hill. That is what I see in our colleagues trying to spin things for this government. It is a fruitless labour. I’m not even sure it is not a sin against God looking away or defending killings and lies repeatedly.

I have seen the very many efforts being made to decimate Olusegun Obasanjo for daring to write the tenant he helped put in Aso Rock. Many Nigerians don’t like Obasanjo. I’m not very sure I am not one of them. The reasons (sins) are as many as our population-180 million. Some don’t like his Machiavellian politics; some loathe his guts. Some don’t like the fact that he loves women and flaunts it. Some loathe him because of his claim to being not a Yoruba but a Nigerian nationalist. The reasons are sometimes fundamental, sometimes very banal. I don’t like him because he is never there to defend the Yoruba when his weight is needed. Then, is he a warm person? We are taught to respectfully greet elders anywhere we meet them. A colleague once did just that for Ebora Owu. He said the old man simply looked away. Some other time, one of his senior aides introduced my friend to the former president at the Lagos airport. The old man cast a furtive glance at him and walked away to his aircraft. Wetin you do am? I asked the gentleman who said he honestly didn’t know. But really some friends said he was lucky. They congratulated him for escaping Obasanjo’s verbal shots. They said he can talk down anyone, especially journalists. But why? People offend big men for several reasons. Sometimes, it is money or women, daughters of eve.

Years ago, Obasanjo banned journalists and dogs from his Ota farm. Why dogs and journalists? I hope to ask him one day why he grouped journalists with dogs. But should anyone’s opinion of the Obasanjo person play any role in the appreciation of his latest intervention? It shouldn’t and it will not. And so, I say that he has done very well reminding birds of prey of their expiring tenancy on the branch of the market tree. Obasanjo’s statement was tonic for a tired, despondent citizenry. He spoke about everything that is wrong with the government we have. Herdsmen, crass nepotism, all. He spoke at a time everyone up there had gone dumb. He is a patriot despite his warts.

But there is Obasanjo’s suggestion of a third force as cure for the current politics of herders. Nigeria’s ailment is resistant to all existing drugs. The remedy has been worse than the disease. The sick is not improving. He is, in fact, deteriorating fast. If the patient is not improving, let his relations get him another physician. Should there really be any argument about that? But changing hospitals and doctors will be meaningless if the old therapy is all the new caregiver has to offer. Every knowledgeable doctor should know that patients with drug-resistant illnesses are at “increased risk of worse clinical outcomes and death.” That is the current situation of Nigeria. We must discharge (rescue) our country from its current diseased hospital even against doctors’ advice. But the third force will work only if it is not coming with the usualness that landed us here. Whatever it is coming with must include a comprehensive restructuring plan for what we call Nigeria. That is the mood of the nation, even the APC is playing the game. I hope the new force listens.

The privileged in the Villa don’t like what Obasanjo said. It is their job not to like it. But are they proud of what their minister of defence said on muzzling the media? And on herdsmen and the mass murders in Benue? There must be something very fundamentally wrong with a 21st century government that endorses trekking from Maiduguri to Lagos. They say grazing cattle from the deserts of northern Nigeria to the southern forest is a valued culture that must be preserved. That was the tragic logic of our Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Alli after the National Security Council meeting last week. And herders had to kill because their ancestral grazing routes were blocked by farmers. The wages of sin is death. The punishment for farming on privileged routes of the Fulani is summary execution? I shuddered as I listened to the man who swore to defend all of us. Who did we offend for us to merit this punishment?

No one hates the Fulani as human beings. Many have lived in peace down south since the beginning of their lineage. But no one likes having an enemy as a roommate. Your host can’t be drinking water and you drink blood. The new strain of Fulani is riding roughshod over others outside that ethnic belt. These ones plant heads when the farmers who are housing them plant yams. Farmers look forward to harvesting corn, our herders look forward to harvesting human heads. Everyday, the news is about blood, death and sorrow wherever they pass. The tragic reality of the trekking Fulani’s case is the consistency in the reaction the victims get from their elite. A Fulani member of the House of Representatives proudly said cows had more values than humans. Then this Fulani Defence Minister added his own defence of the carnage. Then there is the silence of conspiracy from the boss of them all. And they want all of us to also press the mute button. They want the market of grief to be still and quiet. But will Onikoyi stop going to war when Aroni, the medicine man, has refused to stay at home? And we are all casualties of this raging Fulani war. When the farmer is scared away from the field of today’s crops, what will the hungry eat tomorrow morning? The way to shut victims up is to stop hurting them.

Fulani Herdsmen Attack Teachers in Ewekoro

Two primary school teachers in Ewekoro area of Ogun State are currently battling for their lives at a government-owned hospital after suspected Fulani herdsmen attacked them on Thursday, inflicting deep machete cuts on them.

The incident, which took place few metres to Atola Primary School in Ewekoro North Local Council Development Area, sent residents of the area into a panic while other schools in the community hurriedly dispersed for fear of being attacked, too.

The State Police Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, confirmed the incident, saying some arrests had been made but it was discovered that the herdsmen arrested were not the perpetrators but those residing and known to the residents in the area. He said the said persons had therefore been released.

Chairman of Ewekoro North LCDA, Mr. Kehinde Adepegba, confirmed to reporters. He said “The Ogun State Government has taken over the case and as we speak the affected teachers have been transferred from our maternity hospital at Onigedu to the Ogun State General Hospital at Ijaiye. They are receiving treatment and are recuperating.

“Following the incident, all security agencies in the state have been placed on the alert. As a matter of fact, I even learnt that some arrests have been made. While still searching for the perpetrators of the attack; we have put certain strategies in place to forestall against a similar occurrence in future.

“From preliminary reports, we gathered that the herdsmen who carried out the attack only recently migrated to the area. They are not part of the Fulani community cohabiting with the locals. They are unknown in the locality but they will be apprehended.”

Stop Demonizing Fulani Herdsmen In Shitholes

By Tunde Odesola

(Published in The PUNCH, Friday, January 19, 2018)

“This is Reality Radio Corporation, 66.6FM, Abuja. My name is Moore Paine. Here are the news highlights: Herdsmen killed 756 in two years under Jonathan – Presidency; Taraba death toll rises to 60; FG has not done enough for herdsmen – Audu Ogbe; Soyinka blasts Buhari over Benue killings; I’ll protect Ekiti from herdsmen – Fayose; Prevail on Buhari to stop herdsmen attacks, Benue women tell Aisha; Council of States meets today in Abuja; Buhari replaces sacked NIA DG with northerner. Now, the news in full…”

“Switch off that stupid news, hadjia, I want to concentrate.”

“Why, Your Excellency? You need to listen to news. By so doing, you would know the yearnings of the people and the mind of the opposition.”

“Menini! What do I need to know the mind of the opposition for, hadjia? Was the opposition not there when I convincingly won the general election? Will people ever stop yearning? Let me tell you what you don’t know, the more you keep out of politics and concentrate on taking care of me and running the affairs of the other room, the better for you. You know I’m yet to forgive you for the interview you granted on the state of the villa’s hospital and the one in which you said I have been hijacked by some party people. If you were not dabbling into politics, you would have discovered the buying and riding of motorbikes under your nose. Eh, don’t tempt me to marry another wife, kajiko; I’m may be an old general, but I’m still strong, you know.”

“I don’t mean to disobey your Excellency. It is just that I hear a lot of disturbing news daily.”

“You hear disturbing news daily, kwo? And you go hysterical, ba? I have been hearing disturbing news in this country since 1960. Hadjia, please, I don’t want to hear any disturbing news this morning. I want to read some documents ahead of the Council of State meeting coming up today. I learnt the Ekiti roughneck and the Rivers ruffian will lead their fellow troublemakers to the meeting; I don’t want to be caught unawares on any issue, please. Professor has broken down all the issues in this document I’m reading – foreign reserve, anti-corruption war, fuel scarcity, and the two-fighting in Benue. I’m just lucky to have the Prof, you know. I think he is a real gentleman; no political ambition, only boko and turenchi.

“I think he’s a godly man, too. Your Excellency, check your time, it’s time for the meeting. I learnt the man from Ekiti has arrived and that he’s dressed in full hunter’s regalia replete with charms, cowries and horns.”

“That boy must be on drugs. I’ve prepared a place for him in Gashua, where he will go and continue his hooliganism, after his tenure. Let me go and attend the meeting.”

(National anthem and pledge rendition)

“So help us God, says the last line of our national pledge. I pray that the Lord will help our great country, Nigeria. Your Excellency and the Commander-in-Chief, fellow labourers in the vineyard called Nigeria, permit me, in my capacity as the deputy to the C-i-C, to declare this meeting open while the secretary to the government gives us what is on the agenda.”

“No, no, no, no! With due respect to you Prof, sir, there shouldn’t be any other thing on the agenda than the Benue pogrom. We shouldn’t sit down here as if all is well with this country, the nation is on fire and we are here seated in opulence, speaking grammar. The blood of the people killed in Benue and in other states is on our hands. Nitemi o, I want to make heaven when I die, because all of us will eventually die and go and meet our creator. I am from Ekiti, where we don’t fear to say our mind. Herdsmen have taken over the country, and there’s a deafening silence from the Ass-o-Rock because Fulani are involved, abi? Did IPOB kill anybody before it was declared a terrorist organization? The government must declare herdsmen terrorists, shikena.”

“Uhm, uhmm! Let me address the issues raised by the young man from Ekiti. I can see that you’ve turned criticizing my administration into a pastime. Well, that’s your own cup of tea. You said I should declare herdsmen terrorists, ba? May I ask you, what for?

“For turning Nigeria into suya fields, sir.”

(Interruption) “Eh! Look here, Mr Ekiti or what do they call you; you can’t be talking to His Excellency like that! Where do you think you are? Ado garage? Where were you when His Excellency was a military Head of State? Can you say this before His Excellency in 1983? Nna, I am from the state where we honor people with statues. Please, respect yourself o…”

(Cuts in) “So, thou shall not make for yourself a graven image is not in your bible, Governor Aaron? Where’re you when I was in power between 2003 and 2006?

“Rivers want to talk o; I’ve been pressing the buzzer and raising my hand since, nobody called me o. I want to talk o. Don’t wicked me o.”

“I was still talking, Mr Rivers, before the rude interruption from Ekiti. I may not know my age, but I know I’m old enough to be his father. Ekiti said I should declare herdsmen terrorists, ba? Me, who is not even a Christian, know what Jesus Christ said about the lost sheep. He said you should leave your 99 sheep and go in search of the one that is missing. Isn’t that so? If people steal herdsmen’s cows and herdsmen are looking for them, what’s terrorism in that? I think you should go back and take more bible lessons from your wife. Mr Rivers, you can now talk.”

“Your Excellency, I only wish to know why you sent soldiers on python dance in the South-East where nobody was killed, and you sent police to Benue despite the killings. Two, why haven’t you visited Benue? And what’s the response of Nigeria to the shithole labeling by President Trump?

“Thank you, the man from Rivers. You’re unusually calm today; it appears it is the Transporter that you hate, not me. I shall kill a whole cow and celebrate when the two of you decide to bury the hatchet, otherwise, I will label the two of you terrorists (laughs). Ehm, I cannot allow an inch of the territory the British bequeathed to us to secede. The General from the rocky community was wrong to allow Bakassi to go. If any part of the country talks about secession, herdsmen will go there or the military will go and dance disco there. You know disco? That dance that you will be whistling and shaking you head and jumping up and down like you’re dancing to Dan Maraya Jos. Don’t you know secession is a criminal offence? When people die, more people can be born. But when a territory is taken, it cannot be retrieved. Calabar people know better. Your second question; are you not an African? Does African tradition permit parents to see the corpses of their children? I’m the father of the nation. You want me to go and see the corpses of my children? I wish Bourdillon was at this meeting. He would have told you that South-West traditional rulers don’t see corpses.

“About President Trump describing African countries as shitholes; that means that President Trump has a plan for African shit. Maybe America wants to manufacture something with our shit ni. You see, this is one of the democratic dividends of our government. Did any American president talk about Nigerian shit before? I shall direct the Ministry of Information to tell Nigerians to increase their shitting because it will soon turn our economy around. You’re raising your hand, the man from the Confluence State, what do you have to say?”

“Your Excellency, I crave your indulgence to know when you’re graciously going to release the next bailout, sir.”

“Immediately after this meeting.”

“Ah!! After this very meeting!? Your Excellency, let’s declare this meeting closed with immediate effect, sir!

Chorus: Yeeeessssooooo!!!

“Everybody is laughing now o. Even our man from Ekiti is laughing, too. He’ll say in the papers tomorrow, ‘Bailout is my right’. Thank your star this is not a military regime.”

“God bless Nigeria.”

“Sai da safe.”

•Odesola wrote in from the US via [email protected]

Fulani Herdsmen: OAU Campus Editors Condemn Killing Of Nigerians

By Sodiq Lawal

The National Association of Nigerian Campus Editors, NANCE, Obafemi Awolowo University branch, has condemned the killing of innocent Nigerians by herdsmen in Benue State and other parts of the country.

This was disclosed in a press statement signed by the Public Relations Officer of the association, Mr Adejumo Kabir, and made available to our correspondent on Tuesday.

According to the release, “It is important to note that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and the inability of the Federal Government to curb these killings is a slap on democracy. The Fulani herdsmen disturbing the peace of the nation are not different from Boko Haram and if the Federal Government can declare IPOB as terrorists, the herdsmen are worse.”

“The last Christmas was not merry for many Nigerians due to fuel scarcity and the new year was greeted by Fulani herdsmen. We are sure that the president is not sick and should not really be affected psychological by the accident of his son. If at all the president is ill, the entire presidency cannot be deaf and blind at the same time to the mass genocide against innocent citizens in Benue particular and other states”

“The killing has gone haywire that you can only have right to your life in these states when you dress like cattle”

“The Federal Government needs to set laws equitable for Nigerians and take adequate sanction on dangerous Fulani Herdsmen that trespass into farm land of others. Again, the Federal Government has failed to set up touching courses with satisfactory remuneration to families of victims of herdsmen killing”

“We requests that Government must set up open farms and make provision(s) for the wellbeing of citizens as farming remain one of the key sectors to concentrate on. Without Government mediation, the killing of innocent citizens will keep occurring and then will make the country a good example of ‘A lost paradise.”

Ondo Plans Stringent Measures On Herdsmen Menace

Ondo State governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, has declared that his administration will apply force to arrest the menace of Fulani herdsmen in the state.

This was said by the Government in Akure on Sunday, during an event to commemorate the Armed Forces Remembrance Day.

“We have been using security agencies to engage the herdsmen to carry out their business peacefully but when engagement fails, we will use force. We will confront the herdsmen with all we have,” the governor said.

He vowed that his administration will do everything to protect the people of the state, adding that all the security agencies have been put on red alert to monitor the activities of herdsmen.
He condemned the recurrent clashes between farmers and herdsmen across the country, adding that his government will ensure such does not occur in the state.

“I must not fail to make a statement on the unfortunate recurrence of clashes between the farmers and pastoralists otherwise known as herdsmen. Our state has had her share of the crisis but not on the horrendous scale whose odious effect continues to reverberate throughout the country. Our Administration is taking proactive steps to ensure that this obnoxious phenomenon is nipped in the bud,” he said.

While encouraging those who want to visit the state to come, he warned that those coming to perpetrate crime under should avoid the state or face fire. The governor noted that farmers in the state have suffered crop losses on account of the activities of herdsmen and their livestock, a trend his administration is minded to stop.

Mr. Akeredolu condemned the repeated attacks on the farmland of Mr. Olu Falae, former Secretary to Government of Federation, by the Fulani herdsmen.

“We will not tolerate any act of brigandage. We will defend the right of our people to engage farming without let of any hindrance of any sort. We will sanction with impassioned severity any acts which seek to tilt the balance of harmonious coexistence in the state towards anarchy. The full weight of the law will be brought to bear on criminal elements” the governor vowed,” said the governor.

He urged farmers in the state to go about their business and ensure they report suspicious movements in their areas to security agencies.

Ikpeazu Rejects Cattle Colony Plan For Herdsmen In Abia

Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, has rejected plans by the federal government to establish “cattle colonies” for Fulani Herdsmen and their cows in Abia State saying that the state will not cede any part of its territory to Fulani herdsman as cattle colony.
According to a press release issued by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary Mr Enyinnaya Appolos, governor Ikpeazu has indicated that Abia state will not accept that any of its land will be used to establish cattle colonies for herdsmen.

“We reject such plan . We don’t have enough land for our agricultural activities and our people want more land. “Giving away any part of Abia land as a colony to herdsmen, wherever they may be from, will be most unjust and unfair treatment to Abia State and her people who are largely farmers.

He added that “such alien land occupation will also cause unrest and crisis that may grow beyond what we can handle when it happens, so the best thing I think we should do is to reject such plans so that those behind it will know that Abia State is not a party to it.”, the press release concluded.

The Benue Killings: Matters Arising By Dan Agbese

There has been a steady outpouring of grief, anger and condemnation in Benue State over the latest killings by Fulani herdsmen in Guma and Logo local government areas. For tens of families in those areas, the new year did not bring joy and happiness. It brought death, grief and loss. Official figures of the dead? 71 men, women and children who had no quarrel with these herdsmen and in no way provoked them into turning them into mere disembodied statistics.
I offer the state governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, my condolence. Their death diminishes all of us who are indigenes of the state. It is right for all those who come from that sad state to express our feelings over the attempts by the herdsmen to turn Benue, and indeed, three other states in the Middle Belt zone into killing fields. It is unacceptable. We are right to say so loud and clear.

Something appears to be stirring post these senseless killings. The minders of our state appear to have finally woken up to the real security challenges of enemies without borders menacing our state. The reaction this time is different from the indifference shown by the authorities when the herdsmen, not once but several times and with impunity, levelled several villages in Agatu Local Government Area, also in the state, in 2015 and 2016. We still do not know how many were killed in those attacks. Let us not pretend that the minders of our state failed to rise up to that challenge then. Guma and Logo are sad reminders of a simple fact: evil earns its capacity to spread when it is treated like a minor boil on the nose of the unfortunate.

Still, I welcome the outpouring of anger and condemnation by our big men. I can see that the reaction to such incidents has moved from the politically correct template of mere condemnation couched in jaded words by the important people in both the state and the nation at large into what I see as perhaps a move to address this growing problem and free the state and the nation from being hostages to these mindless killings and killers.

On October 30 last year, the former head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, released bone chilling statistics on the killings and the destruction by the Fulani herdsmen in four states – Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Benue – in 2016. In only one year, according to the general, Fulani herdsmen killed 2,500 people and displaced 62,000 people in the four states. The states lost $13.7 billion and 47 per reduction in their internally generated revenue.

Since leaving office in a blaze of glory in 1999, Abubakar has become a tireless ambassador for peace in and outside the country. In releasing the statistics, he warned that the killings were spreading beyond the four states. What he did, and rightly so, was to confront the Nigerian state with the fact that its lethargy would make matters worse, much worse, and urged it to wake up. It seems to me that his timely warning appears to have been ignored. The consequence is that the killings are going on and have spread to Adamawa, Taraba and even Imo states.

Abubakar described these killings as clashes. In my reaction to his timely warning in my column for this newspaper, titled: Fulani herdsmen? The grim statistics, I pointed out that the killings did not and do not result from clashes between the herdsmen and the villagers because “there is no evidence that those attacked ever faced the attackers or that they had a chance to fight back. These attacks and killings are unprovoked and the attackers choose where and when to attack.” I also pointed out that “The real shock is not that these killings, maiming and displacements go on with impunity but that the federal government seems to be doing Rip Van Winkle in the face this critical national challenge.”

In these sad moments, it is naïve not to expect our people who believe they must be heard to bottle their emotions. A crisis is easy to be exploited and manipulated for political gains. It is in the nature of human societies. We must be careful not to reap such bountiful political harvests at the expense of the people. But make no mistake: when the emotions are spent and the dead are buried, the big people would once more padlock their lips and remain blind to, and silent on, issues that agitate us. Guma and Logo would recede into our collective memories overflowing with the sad victims of similar incidents in and outside the state.

Those who are calling on the president to resign are merely riding the tide of public emotion. The president has nothing to gain from the killings in Benue and other states. It is not right or fair to accuse him of inaction because he, like the herdsmen, is a Fulani. The tribalisation of a crisis such as this merely beclouds of our thinking and our sense of fairness and proportion. Let us face the fact and the fact is that the primary responsibility for the security of the state and its people lies squarely on the shoulders of Ortom, the state governor. Security is the number constitutional duty placed on the shoulders of the president and the state governors.

Consider the ham-handed official police reaction to the killings in Guma and Logo in early January. They might have been forgotten if the killers had not returned a few days later to Logo. The inspector general of police attributed the first wave of killings to communal clashes in those areas. I think he misadvised himself and his statement in the heat of the crisis was equally callous and ill-timed. I can find no where in the laws of our land where the police are authorised to treat communal crises with insouciance or levity. Perhaps, this mind set encouraged the killers to return.

Why did the state and the police fail to rise up to the immediate challenges of securing the affected local government areas? Interestingly, the Benue State police command informed the public they had arrested seven of the herdsmen involved in the new year attacks. Were they Tiv men in herdsmen’s clothing? It is such a great pity that the police chose to be mealy-mouthed about this grave problem.

The current killings throw up once more one of the fundamental problems with the operation of our military federalism. As horrendous as the Benue killings are, they are in no way worse than those in Borno and Yobe since 2009. Or worse than those in Adamawa and Plateau states. Whether they are perpetrated by Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen or hired killers, these killings point to an uncomfortable but inescapable fact: our security system has failed us. This is not really about Benue. It is about the inability of the Nigerian state and the constituent units of the federation to make us safe in our own country. No one should take this lightly because the challenges posed by these pockets of crises are nasty and real; intractable even.

We need to take two urgent steps in this regard. The first is to take another look at the nature and the practice of our security system. Security is not entirely the responsibility of the Federal Government. It is a shared responsibility between it and the state governments. The states cannot effectively discharge this responsibility with our current single federal police force. Experience has amply demonstrated that it is not working or working satisfactorily. It argues for a state police.

Despite the generous security votes for which they are accountable to no one, the state governors do not feel sufficiently responsible for security in their various domains where most of them choose to enjoy privileges without responsibilities; what the late Churchill called the province of harlots. They throw it back on the Federal Government. In their failure they try to score cheap political points by making the president the scapegoat every time there is a security breach resulting in death and destruction.

I am afraid this would not wash. So, the second point is to hold the state governors primarily and unequivocally responsible for security in their domains. Their failure to do what they ought to do with their security votes and the security outfits available to them to make their states and their people fully secure and protected should attract constitutional sanctions. The Nigerian state ought not be complicit, by default, in the cheapening of the lives of its citizens. No band of killers can ever boast of the security arsenal in the custody of the Nigerian state.
Why do we feel so helpless?