Tuesday, July 3, 2018

President Buhari Or Herdsman Buhari?

By Paul Onomuakpokpo
Having not suffered any traumatic dilemma over his overweening loyalty to herdsmen who are his fellow Fulani, President Muhammadu Buhari is oblivious of his rapid erasure as a statesman. Or if he is aware, he is not bothered about the grim verdict of history – here was a president of a great nation who ended as a leader of a segment of the country, Fulani herdsmen. 
*President Buhari (pix: African Herald Express)
Yes, we must discountenance Buhari’s sense of justice that seeks to exculpate him from the tragedies being unleashed by Fulani herdsmen. He vouchsafed this notion of justice during his visit to Plateau after the Fulani herdsmen’s attacks whose death toll has been officially put at 135 while witnesses claim it is over 200. He wondered why he should be accused of being silent over the now perennial massacres.
The wonder is why Buhari should be surprised that he is being blamed for the Fulani herdsmen’s terrorism. His administration would not be identified with the legacy of solving the myriad of problems with which the nation is contending. Nor with directing the people’s energies towards a collective goal that would produce greater unity for the nation. Hobbled by its inability to respond to existential challenges that pose a mortal blow to our individual and collective existence, the Buhari government demurs at the prospect of conquering the moon. Thus, unlike other nations of the world whose stellar socio-economic, political and technological strides would etch them in the memories of other countries, Nigeria gains the attention of the world because it is trapped in the comparison of the death statistics of the Buhari administration and those of his predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. 
While it is true that Boko Haram gloated about its suzerainty over swathes of the nation’s territory under Jonathan, the rash of deaths since Buhari emerged as president has shown that insecurity was only at its inchoate stage under the Ijaw poster boy of good luck. Jonathan was evicted from Aso Rock when he had only Boko Haram insurgents to contend with. But since the emergence of Buhari, insecurity has increased. In addition to Boko Haram, there is now the Fulani scourge. Buhari was voted into office because he claimed to possess the magic wand to end the insecurity. Nigerians believed because he is not only a retired general, he has been a head of state. It was assumed that he was very familiar not only with governance but strategies for countering insecurity.
However, three years after, it has become clear that it was only an illusion. The people are now faced with the reality that Buhari has no magic wand. His failure to tame the Fulani herdsmen has only portrayed him as being in support of the plague of our common peace. Thus, on his watch, thousands have been killed by Fulani herdsmen. If Jonathan was considered to have lost the raison d’etre for his occupancy of Aso Rock to the abduction of 273 Chibok schoolgirls, can Buhari claim any legitimacy to his stay in Aso Rock after thousands have been killed by Fulani herdsmen on his watch?
But what do the Fulani herdsmen really want? Why have they declared themselves implacable foes of our peace? Their implacability is seen in the fact that in less than a week after Buhari announced an iniquitous budget of N179 billion for them to have ranches, they savagely attacked residents of Plateau State.
No matter how much Buhari whines that he is pained by his alleged complicity in the killings, the charge cannot easily be dismissed. For, Buhari has neglected the responsibility of curbing the lunacy of the herdsmen that inevitably results in destruction on an apocalyptic scale. While the citizens are still in confusion as regards who could have been responsible for the killings that have convulsed the nation, Fulani herdsmen often claim culpability. The Miyetti Allah is often ready with the claim that Fulani herdsmen are killing to avenge the rustling of their cattle or grazing laws that threaten their business. This has been the case in Benue and now Plateau State. In essence, the perpetrators of the killings are not hidden. So, if Buhari really wants to arrest and prosecute the killers, he could easily arrest the Miyetti Allah leaders since they can explain why the killings take place.
Buhari deserves to be blamed for the Fulani herdsmen’s killings because he has refused to accept the need for him to review his security architecture. He has stuck to the nepotistic security architecture that is anchored on incompetence. If Buhari really wanted to check the killings why has he not appointed new service chiefs? Why has he not sacked the Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris and Defence Minister Mansur Dan Ali?
Discerning Nigerian patriots think that the Fulani herdsmen’s crisis can be resolved through restructuring. It has been observed that restructuring would enable the states to work out their own security strategies to check a crisis like that of the Fulani herdsmen. The baleful consequence of the absence of a restructured polity is now seen in the predicament of Governor Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari of Zamfara State. He has no control over the security system in his state. The security chiefs in the state receive directives from Abuja. So no matter how much he is outraged at the carnage that is claiming his citizens, he cannot take a decisive measure to intervene. Yari has underscored his frustration with this incapacitating structure of the polity, when he declared that he was resigning from the office of the chief security officer of the state.  
While Buhari refuses to check the killings, we must be alert to the harm they are causing the nation. They have stoked ethnic hatred. The victims who survived their attacks only feel safe in their ethnic cocoons. The erosion of Nigerianess that the killings have provoked can be seen in the light of the prayer of some of the citizens during the Super Eagles’ match against Argentina in Russia. They were opposed to Nigeria winning because such victory would make Nigerians to forget the tragedies at home. They were afraid that banters would now centre on the Super Eagles’ victory and not on the killings and the overarching need to check their recurrence.
It is obvious that the nation urgently needs clear-cut measures to check all these crises. But this sense of urgency is lost on Buhari. Such sense of urgency is blurred by Buhari’s quest for another four years. But it should be clear that Buhari needs another four years not to serve the nation but to demonstrate more loyalty to his fellow herdsmen. Blinded by this loyalty, Buhari cannot grasp his derailment encapsulated in the warning of the pan-Yoruba socio-political group that he has to choose between the presidency of Nigeria and that of Miyetti Allah.
Perhaps, these killings are too far from the federal seat of power and this is why Buhari and his officials are not aware of the tragedies under which the nation is currently choking. In that case, we need to appropriate the admonition of the maverick Senator Shehu Sani that the victims of the Plateau killings should be buried close to Aso Rock. May be, when Buhari and his aides are confronted daily with these sad reminders of their tragic fecklessness, they would devise effective strategies to check the Fulani herdsmen plague. But it is not likely that this would even weaken Buhari’s ambition to snatch another four years from unwilling and bloodied citizens. But if those who want his return have their way, they should be ready for another four years of death and pain as he diminishes himself further and inflicts his Fulani herdsmen on them.
*Dr. Onomuakpokpo is on the Editorial Board of The Guardian

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