Thursday, April 26, 2018

Nigeria: Blood On President Buhari’s Hands

By Paul Onomuakpokpo
Buoyed by the high approval rating he received from the misguided Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, President Muhammadu Buhari has readied himself for more foreign validation ahead of the 2019 election.
But the next rendezvous for validation does not remain in the United Kingdom
*President Buhari 
It is in the White House of President Donald Trump in the United States. Beyond the communiqué on the pledge of bilateral fidelity, Trump would have rendered inestimable service to the world and particularly Nigeria when he takes note of the tragedies in the country that have heralded this meeting. Trump must note that he cannot engage in meaningless banters with Buhari while the latter’s country is choking under the carapace of Fulani herdsmen’s terrorism. 

Thus, the meeting should provide Trump an opportunity to bring this wayward African leader to the path of probity. Of course, before Trump, Buhari might attempt to disparage Nigerian citizens as criminals and lazy. He would justify the incarceration of Nigerian citizens in U.S. prisons and laud Trump’s immigration laws that are meant to send foreigners home. He would massage Trump’s ego for agreeing to sell 20 Tucano warplanes to Nigeria whereas his predecessor Barack Obama refused to do that. Buhari might regale Trump with tales of the gains of his anti-corruption campaign. But all this should not make Trump to miss the opportunity to tell Buhari that blood is on his hands. After all, Buhari would never listen to the counsel of his Nigerian people. But he would listen to Trump because he considers him as the chief representative of a version of life that is beyond the reach of Africans. Or how do we explain the excitement that Trump is magnanimous enough to open the doors of the White House to Buhari? 
Trump should tell Buhari that his collusive silence while his fellow citizens are being killed does not hallmark good leadership. A president should operate in the consciousness that one life matters like every other life. Clearly, if Trump could deploy his country’s military resources in the expression of his outrage at Syrian President Bashar al-Asaad’s chemical weapons attack on children and other civilians, he needs to be concerned about similar barbarity that is going on on the watch of his guest.

Trump should note that the visit has not served any purpose if he fails to tug at Buhari’s conscience vis-à-vis the urgency of stopping the killings of his people by his Fulani kinsmen.Even as Buhari prepares to see Trump, blood-curdling killings are taking place at home. In Benue where life has been rendered short and brutish by murderous Fulani herdsmen, two Catholic priests and 17 other worshippers who had gone for an early morning worship before burying their dead in Ayar Mbalom community have been killed. While the avoidable death of anyone is painful, the murder of the priests is doubly traumatising because apart from their being channels of peace and inter-ethnic harmony, they obviously did not own farmlands. So, they could not have been stopping herdsmen from grazing on their farms. Worse still, the priests were a source of succour to the victims of the ravages of herdsmen as they considered it their responsibility to provide relief materials after the devastation wrought by killer herdsmen.
The priests’ blood like that of other victim is on Buhari’s hands not because he was found to have fired the guns or wielded the machetes that claimed the lives of the ecclesiastical personages. Yet, he became complicit in their death when he refused to take action that would have stopped the killings a long time ago. Rather, Buhari has been protective of the herdsmen. Deluded by his misbegotten notion that the herdsmen were the victims of a law to restrict their grazing, he asked the survivors of their mayhem in Benue to still accommodate their killers. It is only now that Buhari’s spokesmen are making efforts to sympathise with the bereaved. Before now, taking their cue from their principal, their conscience was numbed by a macabre comparison of death statistics that in their estimation favoured the Buhari government and imperilled the credibility and competence of its predecessor. Yet, the fatuous character of this change in the attitude of the presidential aides must not escape us. For, we cannot be so sure that such statements by presidential spokespersons really capture the mind of Buhari. In that case, the presidential spokesmen might just be doing what they think is necessary to collapse the misanthropic image of their boss.
We can glimpse Buhari’s mind from his quest that present and future victims of Fulani herdsmen’s terrorism should give up their arms while the herdsmen are free to cause more havoc with theirs. And this is why despite the atrocities being committed by herdsmen, none of them has been arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned. This is why they are more emboldened to cause more havoc. Buhari’s complicity in the herdsmen’s killings is seen in the fact that troops are even used to cause havoc in Benue. As if to unabashedly corroborate the claim of Theophilus Danjuma that soldiers aid the Fulani herdsmen in their killings, terrorists in military uniform were reportedly involved in the destruction of over 300 houses in Naka, a community also in Benue
It is simply because Buhari revels in the spilling of the blood of the innocent by Fulani herdsmen that he has not bothered to rejig his security apparatus that has failed to check the killings. The fact that the heads of the security agencies have failed to check the excesses of the herdsmen which has been rightly acknowledged by the Senate is lost on Buhari. The members of the upper legislative chamber and other citizens are waiting as Buhari responds to the lawmakers’ position that he should sack the service chiefs. But the wait is likely to be in vain. If Buhari could not sack the inspector general of police who brazenly violated his directive and embarrassed him in Benue when he said that he did not know that he had been disobeyed, it borders on Olympian but futile optimism to expect him to sack the heads of service. After all, he would need them for the next election to prosecute an agenda that detracts from the credibility of the exercise.
Buhari’s worsening blight on the citizens’ lives is seen in the fact that he has not only failed to meet their economic needs. Even those who are braving the harsh economic environment provoked by the incompetence of this sleepwalking government and eking a living are being afflicted with more hardship by the destruction of their property and means of livelihood by the Fulani herdsmen.
Instead of excoriating Nigerian youths for being lazy, Buhari should consider himself as holding the ignoble record of being the laziest citizen. For, it is his indolence that has made him not to be able to muster the mental resources to think through how to resolve the issue of Fulani herdsmen that is causing so much ethnic suspicion in the country. Again, it is his laziness that cannot allow him to consider the proposals by others as regards how to resolve the issue. It is because Buhari is lazy that he is engaged in a futile search for whom to blame for his failure to rein in the killer Fulani herdsmen. After blaming the killings on Benue people’s inability to accommodate Fulani herdsmen, he has now held on to the ludicrous notion that the herdsmen were foreigners trained by the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. But no matter whom he tries to blame, the blood of the innocent citizens being shed on his watch would remain on his hands even after leaving office. For, the killings by the Fulani herdsmen have been made possible by the twin evils of incompetence and complicity that Buhari has deliberately made the chief cornerstones of his government.
*Dr. Onomuakpokpo is on the Editorial Board of The Guardian 

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