Posted by News Express | 20 April 2018 | 1,846 times
It is almost becoming a tradition for President Muhammadu Buhari to make controversial statements whenever he jets outside the shores of Nigeria. The President has severally made comments that elicited reactions, and probably questioned his articulation prowess.
It is an indisputable fact that President Buhari has struggled to convince the international community on the preparedness of his administration in tackling numerous domestic challenges potently diminishing the nation at the global stage. From Boko Haram to herdsmen’s killings, economic recession, general infrastructural decay and alarming social disorder, President Buhari has faced daunting challenges in governance.
The menace of herdsmen’s killings in many parts of Nigeria has not ceased to showcase Nigeria as a failed entity, where human life has irredeemably lost its sacred values. With thousands of lives massively lost in Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa, Plateau and many other states, and with women and children as victims, the Federal Government under President Buhari is under compulsion to volunteer diplomatic explanations on endless inquiries by discerning Nigerians and the global community.
Again, who are these killer-herdsmen? Who are behind them, one may also ask? Who are the real sponsors?
“They are gunmen trained by the late Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi,” President Buhari answered, while speaking at the Abuja House in London, during a visit by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. “The gunmen,” the President further explained, “escaped into Nigeria and other West African countries after Gaddafi’s death.”
Not yet done, President Buhari also thundered: “The problem is even older than us. It has always been there, but now made worse by the influx of gunmen from the Sahel region into different parts of the West African sub-region.”
“They were trained and armed by Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. When he was killed, the gunmen escaped with their arms. We encountered some of them fighting with Boko Haram. Herdsmen that we used to know carried only sticks and, maybe, cutlasses to clear the way, but these ones now carry sophisticated weapons. The problem is not religious, but sociological and economic. But we are working on solutions.”
This obvious frustration of government towards quelling the blood-letting through a decisive and acceptable solution has attracted criticisms and knocks against President Buhari-led administration. While some accuse him of treating the killings with kids gloves, as well as pampering the herder-killers, others simply accuse him of insincerity.
In the words of Monday Ubani, 2nd vice-president of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA): “The issue of herdsmen has not been addressed, what is also more worrisome is that the President is seeing the issue of herdsmen killings as ‘communal clashes.’ The moment you have such a perspective of what is going on, it will not actually bring out the best in the government to address it clearly.
“I think the best the government can do is to give it a correct meaning: these acts are purely terrorist acts, and they should be so branded. That will make you energise the law and security agencies to go after the murderers to get them arrested and prosecuted.”
In the same vein, a former minister of works and housing, Alhaji Femi Okunnu, SAN, accused President Muhammadu Buhari of failing Nigerians, following his inability to curb the killings by herdsmen in many parts of the country.
The former minister posited: “I am troubled about these unnecessary killings. Let me say this, people of my generation are in the process of committing suicide when we see the way the political leadership of this country manages the country. When we see how the country is being handled, before we kill ourselves, some of us want to correct the mistakes which had been made. Hopefully, those in authorities would hear and correct these mistakes. The Federal Government is in charge of the security of the country. But these herdsmen kill farmers, men and women. Is that not a security issue? Who is in charge of Police? The Federal Government has totally failed.”
Shortly after President Buhari’s London declaration, Femi Fani-Kayode, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, as usual descended heavily on him.
He said: “First, you blamed Goodluck Jonathan for the herdsmen, then you blamed Obasanjo, and now you are blaming Gaddafi. None of those you are blaming are Fulani and none is a member of Miyetti Allah. You are both Fulani and you are a Life Patron of Miyetti Allah. The herdsmen are your boys. Blame Yourself!”
It is, however, regrettable that Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe’s display of courage and statesmanship, while drawing the attention of the entire nation to President Buhari's London comments on herdsmen’s killings, was outrightly misconstrued, and erroneously misinterpreted. The senator representing Abia South unarguably ranks among the oldest and most experienced lawmakers in the present-day Nigerian democracy. As a PDP ranking senator, Abaribe represents that strong voice of the opposition, and other Nigerians that don't subscribe to the style of the ruling APC.
At the plenary, Abaribe had recalled how the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, earlier attributed the killings to the laws being passed by states. He also pointed out another version where the Defence Minister Mansur Dan-Ali said that the killings were as a result of the blockade of grazing routes.
While juxtaposing these two versions with President Buhari’s assertion in London, Abaribe posited: “President Muhammadu Buhari said that these killings were as a result of the people who were trained by Muammar Gaddafi.
“Mr. President was implying that these people who are doing the killings in Nigeria are invaders from outside of Nigeria. If so, it validates my point in this chamber that when a Commander-in-Chief says he cannot take care of invaders, why is he still a Commander-in-Chief? Why do we still continue to indulge this President that goes around to tell everybody outside this country that he is totally incompetent?”
Abaribe owes the present Senate a strong voice laden with wisdom and experience. While the seeming failure of President Buhari and the Federal Government to curb the menace continues to attract criticisms from patriotic Nigerians and the international community, Abaribe and some other patriots will always raise their strong voice in defence of helpless Nigerians, and democracy. This underscores why Nigerians should commend Abaribe for audaciously speaking truth to power.
On the other hand, President Buhari should henceforth put on his patriotic cap, and think differently. The Federal Government must evolve a lasting solution to confront the herder-killings. The President, as a matter of urgency, should demonstrate greater patriotism by declaring the killer-herders as terrorists, to end the menace.
Nigerians deserve to live in peace!
•Uzoukwa, a seasoned journalist and PR practitioner, is currently pursuing his Doctorate Degree on Mass Communication in Imo State University (IMSU), Owerri.
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