Plateau Killing: A case of adding salt to injury

By Editor on 26/06/2018

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President Muhammadu Buhari, rose to the occasion this time around by promptly condemning last Saturday’s killing in Plateau State. Official reports put the dead at 86, while unofficially, more than 200, were reportedly killed. This is a marked shift from his hitherto stoic silence that some people have tended to term as “strategic” in line with his “style” to work more and talk less.

So, for the first time in three years that this bizarre, callous and mind-boggling orgy of killings has assumed a life of its own, the President is speaking out in record time. Surely, that is an improvement.

But then, where does this latest intervention take this wounded country? Like those deadly thrusts that eventually ended the life of Julius Caesar at the Capitol, Buhari’s reaction, on Monday, represents that last dagger-stab from Brutus with which he gave up hope and, or even interest to live. Yes!  

For the records, this is the exact statement made by the President through his spokesman, Garuba Shehu: “We know that a number of geographical and economic factors are contributing to the longstanding herdsmen/farmers clashes. But we also know that politicians are taking advantage of the situation. This is incredibly unfortunate. Nigerians affected by the herdsmen/ farmer clashes must always allow the due process of the law to take its course rather than taking matters into their own hands.” 

Call this the most listless, lifeless and banal reaction ever penned or uttered by any serious government in the world to such a colossal calamity, you will not be mistaking. Call it the most outlandish, unfeeling and diversionary position ever taken by a President in the face of wanton wastage of his own people and you will be close to reality. Every sentence in that statement tears at the very heart of the Nigerian nation. What a tragedy! We say so without equivocation. cannot shy away from the reality of the Nigerian situation, neither shall we prevaricate or sit on the fence in matters concerning this country.

We condemn the President’s response to this heart-rending incident in its entirety. We particularly see the attempt to shift the blame to somewhere else instead of where it should be seated, as not only misleading, but the fuel that could and will surely exacerbate the fire.

Just like in Benue State and indeed other parts of the country, where there had been similar attacks, in the past, nothing has changed to make us believe the identity of the perpetrators has come into any doubt. What is in doubt is their motive for the change of their modus operandi, from stick-carrying pastoralists to heartless killing machines that no longer rely on cutlasses with which they “cut grass to feed their cows,” but now wield AK-47s with which they carry out their devious activities.

It is more unfortunate that the President is making this diversionary statement, which in the main, seems to exculpate the perpetrators at a time the umbrella body of the herdsmen, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), of which he is a patron, has indeed taken ownership of the incident, like in many other cases and explained the reason for it.


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Even at that as was given in the instant case, we see it as the height of human bestiality to kill one person not to talk of 200 in exchange for 300 cows. It is catastrophic to say the least.

Indeed, we have noticed with pain the systematic watering of the entire story of these herdsmen and this addition to the texture is a totally new creation. It started with the attempt to designate it as conflicts rather than attacks, apparently in a bid to create an illusion that it is a sort of struggle. Adding politics to the whole saga, is a further dilution, apparently to avoid some political consequences in the run-up to the 2019 elections.

This is a big mistake. First, what is in issue here are human lives. Nobody should play politics with human lives, because it turns back to haunt anyone who does, for whatever reasons(s).

If Adolf Hitler could lose out in the end and have his name etched in the darkest part of history even with his monumental zeal and somewhat achievements through conquests, it shows how ordinary, transient and puerile raw power could translate to.

So, politics must be out the current sad story of Nigeria, or at best, relegated to the background in finding a solution. Few people will believe this new mantra. For one, the President had wittingly or unwittingly acknowledged the reality in the past.

If you had acknowledged that the drying up of the Lake Chad and desertification had pushed herdsmen down South in search of water, if you were quoted, without denying it, as asking Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state to ask his people to accommodate the herdsmen, if your appointees had continuously hammered on the abolition of the anti-grazing law in the state as a solution, you would be required to tell your audience where the narrative changed so drastically to assume a life of its own.

Then bring the “politicians” to book as proof. Else, prove the child crying and pointing in a particular direction that his mother or father is not there.

Unlike many Nigerians, we refuse to believe that the President is a direct sponsor of the killings. That narrative is too difficult to swallow, no matter how seducing. Yet, we believe that the failure to arrest and prosecute these herdsmen has continued to feed that assumption. However, it is difficult to discountenance the growing feeling of some sort of pampering, even if he disapproves their method.

At best, it may be a situation of a doting father who fails to use the rod while watching the child go astray, out of love. The result is obvious. That child will go astray and turn out a brigand. In the end, both father, son and the society, may come to serious grief and even disastrous end.  




Posted on June, 26 2018

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