by Mark Amaza
I feel like I am beginning to sound like a broken record: almost every time there is an attack by suspected Fulani herdsmen, we rant and vituperate, churn out tweets and angry articles, maybe organize a protest or two, and then the storm goes quiet.
A few months ago, the whole of Nigeria, or at least most of it, was gripped by anger and fury over the massacre of hundreds of people in Agatu Local Government of Benue State which further left tens of thousands of people displaced. It seemed like the country was on the edge of the precipice with tensions that rose as those attacks went further south – to Nimbo in Enugu State, Egbema-Ndoni in Rivers State and Oke-Ako in Ekiti State.
Sadly, the response from the Federal Government on the incessant attacks has been very disappointing. Not only did it take it very long to speak officially on it –not to mention blaming the attacks on foreign herdsmen, an admission of porous borders – it has not instituted any action to either protect hapless villages and rural communities or arrest the perpetrators even when there is public admission of the crime.
In all my life, I cannot remember where a group that commits mass killings publicly admit to the act and are not in hiding or on the run, and yet, no law enforcement agency is able to arrest them. It is almost as though they are the government, and the real government powerless before it; and although these attacks predate the Buhari administration with the attackers still not apprehended, it does not help President Buhari that is of the same ethnic stock against the attackers.
There is absolutely no excuse for the inability of the government to arrest and prosecute the leaders of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), the umbrella body for Fulani herdsmen (President Buhari is its Grand Patron – which gives more fodder for theories of official protection for the herdsmen) for by its own admission, participation in the killings.
The longer that the Federal Government tarries in taking actions against the attackers, and to deploy its security apparatuses to dismantle and prevent what, from all indications, seems to be well-organized, military-style raids on communities, the more will people be pushed to take the option proffered by Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State.
We cannot expect that people will do nothing and wait like sitting ducks to be murdered by marauding herdsmen, or at best, chased off their own ancestral lands. What will most likely happen is that it will set off an arms race in the conflict-hit areas and cause reprisal attacks, which will likely set off a chain reaction of dastardly events considering the ethnic, regional and religious complexities of the issue. Yet, our government refuses to deal with the immediate causes of what is Nigeria’s next security challenge, already at a tipping point, and potentially worse than Boko Haram.
Curiously enough, what the Federal Government calls solving the root cause – the conflict over land for farming and grazing – has been the desire to create grazing reserves in as many states as possible. The issue of grazing lands, the subject of two bills in the House of Representatives, has become a vexatious issue in Nigeria and will only make things worse. I could go on and on about how bad it is, but Saatah Nubari has already done an excellent job of that.
The situation cannot continue this way, where the lives of cows are more important than those of some human beings. The longer the Federal Government tarries in acting against these attackers, the more likely the prospect of an internecine conflict, and likely, Nigeria’s second civil war becomes.
It is about time that the Buhari administration stopped twiddling its fingers as the country begins to go up in flames.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Mark Amaza is the team leader of MINDCapital