It is only three months into the year 2018, and the number of Nigerians murdered in their villages and homes by gunmen masquerading as Fulani herdsmen is approaching the 500 mark. From the New Year Day massacres in Benue State which prompted a mass burial televised live, more fronts of barbaric atrocities have been opened in Taraba, Plateau, Zamfara, Kogi, Ebonyi, Kaduna and most of the states in the Central and Southern parts of the country.
The killers appeared to “welcome” President Muhammadu Buhari in his belated condolence visit to Benue with the slaughtering of two policemen sent to restore the peace in the state. Shortly after the President returned from his condolence visit to Dapchi in Yobe State where he met with state government officials and the families of the 110 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram on 19th February 2018, another 52 innocent souls were wiped out in Borno, Kogi and Plateau States.
It is high time that we, as nation, sat down to identify exactly what is happening to us. Who really are these people we glibly refer as “armed Fulani herdsmen?” Exactly what is their agenda or mission in Nigeria?
These questions are pertinent because shortly after the mass burials in Benue in January, the Directorate of State Services (DSS) claimed in a report to President Buhari that a terror group, the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA), was behind the Benue killings. This report did not draw much traction in the public space because Nigerians have grown skeptical over the body language of the Federal Government and its security agencies which prefer to style these attacks on indigenous communities as “farmers/herders clashes”.
It is time to ask ourselves what manner of “herdsmen” would continue to attack and murder our citizens so relentlessly and remorselessly and yet our police and military contingents sent to arrest the situation appear unable to cope? Exactly what has the Army’s Operation Cat Race (Ayem Akpatuma) achieved so far?
We wish to draw President Buhari’s attention to the fact that Nigerians are holding him firmly to his campaign promise to secure the nation. This was top of his three-point agenda which persuaded Nigerians to vote for a change of ruling party and government in 2015.
Unfortunately, instead of insecurity and insurgency reducing in scale, we are seeing a widening and an escalation of it. That the Dapchi schoolgirls were abducted while the Chibok abductions have not been solved is a pointer to the fact that we have lost more ground to insecurity under Buhari’s watch. Condolence visits are not enough. Nigerians are getting tired of them.
We want a firm and decisive step taken to secure all Nigerians irrespective of their ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds or political affiliations. We want action taken NOW!