I did not understand the incessant carnages of Herdsmen until my local government area in Kogi state was attacked last week. My kinsmen have always been peaceful farmers and, in recent past, we have co-existed with the herdsmen with no visible friction. But the senseless attacks by a group of them, carrying the deadly Ak-47 assault rifles, are unwarranted and unprecedented. And, as of this writing, this act of terrorism has taken the lives of nearly 40 innocent people, whose only offence is being natives of a pastoral, grazing farm- land. As such, could that factor alone be the reason for the mayhem? The answer remains oblique.
The rampant stories of the treacherous activities of herdsmen began two years ago with kidnapping and extortion, and in some cases, outright assassination of the captives, if the demanded ransoms were not forth coming. Those rescued from these dangerous gangs, operating in Kogi, Kaduna, Niger, Kano, and Plateau states told bizarre, unbelievable tales of the types of weapons acquired and operated by these lawless hooligans; directly or indirectly assisted by some section of Nigeria’s political elite. Kidnapping for ransom was so lucrative that the terrorists became more daring, with daylight operations; audaciously, close to some of the highway- patrol check points. At a point, anyone travelling between Abuja and Kaduna was a possible target for abduction. It took the belated action of the Nigerian police force to temporarily quell the frequency of attacks, but the situation is still potent.
From the lingering Boko Haram insurgencies in the North Eastern states– to the interminable herdsmen’s wanton destructions of lives and properties in the Middle-Belt region (Taraba, Plateau, Benue & Kogi states), the diagnosis portrays a weak security system, with direct supports from those entrusted to safeguard Nigeria’s sovereignty. It is quite alarming that corruption has become malignant to the point of attrition, provocation, and extreme disregard for humanity. With scarce resources and a growing population in endemic corruption, at a certain point in the life of a nation, there will be a broken system of law and order. We do not need a rocket scientist to explain the dynamics of the pathology of what to expect. The growing maladministration in a restive, massive population, could only culminate to rising, unhindered crime waves. It is useless to explain to our leaders that the demographic of Nigeria’s population shows that 65 per cent of Nigerians are below the age of 40. These youngsters are unemployed after graduating from schools; they will strive to survive through legal or illegal means. But who dares challenge a system that is imbued with all facets of extremism.
Nigerian politicians are more fraught to be served. They will do anything to remain in government, the most creative way to achieve relevance, wealth, and to manipulate the selectorate. Our politicians are inhuman, with senseless ideals for survival, at all cost. Therefore, if overheating the polity with some form of anarchy will prop their myopic vision, they will choose it, even if it means the nation should engulf in flames. Anyone who wishes to challenge this assumption should simply explain to me, the reason(s) for this lawlessness.
Boko Haram’s uncontrolled attacks, including the abduction of the Chibok girls occurred during President Jonathan Goodluck’s era. It was determined by some Nigerians that Jonathan was virtually ineffectual, clueless, and too weak for a hegemonic leadership. The blame game rendered perceived impotency of the administration. Fragrant theft of the resources earmarked to fight insurgencies was later unveiled soon after his departure from office.
Nigerians, once again, regrouped with the hope that Buhari’s government would usher some hope that the nation’s security would surpass the hopelessness of the previous government. Within a year of his ascension to power, President Buhari proved to the nation that Boko Haram and their sponsors would drown. The new set of security chiefs quickly distanced themselves from the corrupt, inept group under Jonathan. The strategy worked. A relatively peaceful outcome eschewed. Sporadic insurgencies waned, and most of the internally displaced people (IDP) began to return to their empty enclaves. A big sigh of relief for a nation gripped with fear and hopelessness. President Buhari and his service chiefs deserve every accolade for staging to eliminate the sect, but the system is marred with highly creative anarchists, uncomfortable with peace within. These vultures gain more from the country when there is glaring insecurity that creates money-making inroads.
Regrettably, the security operatives in this country—army, air force, Navy and the police, must properly be investigated, including some Nigerians, whose primary business is importation/leasing of deadly weapons to terrorists. Sadly, as long as Nigerians are the ones investigating the accused, there is every likelihood that nothing positive will come out of the findings. Very few Nigerians are priceless; the majority will sell their soul to acquire financial resources. These people will always plunge the country into perpetual chaos, for that’s the most beneficial season.
Boko Haram started as a group of political thugs, and quickly metamorphosed into uncontrollable armed bandits—classified by the international community as a terrorist organization. The sect’s main objective is social control—an unattainable goal with deadly consequences. It is inexplicable to understand the sources of weapons used by the insurgents; stories of aiding and abetting by those in the Nigerian military have surfaced numerous times, but quickly extinguished to forestall further probes into such allegations. The Boko Haram situation remains dicey and unresolved. We have contended with the nefarious activities of the group, since their modus operandi is sporadic incursion into some parts of the country from their assumed base in Sambisa forest.
The herdsmen have, of recent, become onerous, dangerous, and potentially deadly to the internal security of Nigeria. From January this year to date, nearly 1000 Nigerians have died from the irrational conflicts, act of violence created by those who see nothing wrong with a herdsman man carrying an assault rifle to kill innocent natives. Those claiming to be part of this fraternity, Myetti Allah, do not see anything wrong if a local farmer is killed in defense of his crops, and land. The insinuation that religion is the underlining factor is not only bogus, but dangerous to the unity of Nigeria. To support the herdsmen to kill other people, because of some perceived religious bias, is sheer nonsense. It has become the potency of insecurity.
In order to stabilize Nigeria, the usual strategy of fighting conventional wars cannot be adopted. Intelligence is the only mode of fishing out perpetrators, if the government is pragmatic and proactive toward curtailing the prevailing insecurity in the land. But, there is ample evidence to prove that an Ak-47 assault weapon cannot be imported by the Herdsmen. Fulanis don’t trade in guns; it has never been their occupation. The serial number, and other inscription should expose those supplying weapons to these aggressive herdsmen, to attack innocent citizens.
Those who are employing religious dimension to create confusion, at the same time, encouraging the Fulanis to brace-up for war, are directly destabilizing Nigeria. War is costly, both in human and financial terms. It is salient that our leaders must stop the dangerous politics and call a spade-a-spade.
But, interestingly, after Amnesty International accused the Nigerian military of complicity, the 110 Dapchi school girls were released the following day. What is really going on??? According to the international advocacy group, the armed forces were warned of the possible abduction of the girls by Boko Haram, but the notice went unadhered. Unfortunately, this is the state of Nigeria today.
These are obvious signs of security failures in the system, and some scoundrels within the military and other institutions, including politicians are earning blood monies. Maybe there is every reason to purge the rank and file of the institutions authorized to carry or look after the government’s armaments. Our borders are equally unfortified– with visible porosity.