Before Nigeria Becomes Somalia…

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Simon Kolawolelive!, Email: simon.kolawoe@thisdaylive.com. SMS: 0805 500 1961

I got a call from a senior northern politician recently. He’s generally a man of peace and often calls to commend me anytime I write on “peace and unity”. But this was a different call. His tone was remarkably different and harsh as he spoke about the Benue killings. He spared little time for the obligatory I-like-your-article ice-breaker and rushed into a conversation. “Look Simon,” he half-shouted, “you journalists must put pressure on the president to act quickly and decisively. The herders are very confident he has their back. The security agencies are treating them like kings. Our people will have to start defending themselves. Nobody has monopoly of violence.”

My head dropped. Sadness overpowered me. These are the moments that test my faith in the precariously complex Nigerian project. It is particularly saddening that the Benue tragedy has provided a perfect setting for people to play politics of opportunism (2019 is around the corner, just your know), for people to rev up ethnic and religious sentiments, for people to queue behind those they perceive to be their kith and kin. Yet, for all you care, what we need most urgently is to prevent further bloodbath. Reprisals and more aggression will only turn Nigeria into another Somalia, the global capital of anarchy. We can do without that.

The point has been well made that President Muhammadu Buhari’s reaction to the killings has been too slow and too poor. The previous killings by Fulani herdsmen in Agatu (Benue) and Nimbo (Enugu) did not merit a stern response from the president, very unusual for a retired general who keeps celebrating his exploits in “keeping Nigeria one” during the civil war. Compare his attitude with how President Olusegun Obasanjo dealt decisively with the OPC menace in the south-west in 1999-2000 and you will see a world of difference. Buhari’s fire-brigade to the latest Benue killings, apparently in reaction to so much public outcry, is seen as a reluctant afterthought.

It is not as if the Fulani have not been at the receiving end too — they were victims of massacres in Bachama, Adamawa state, and Mambilla, Taraba state, last year, in which hundreds were killed. Curiously, these tragedies went unnoticed by the national media. Photos of dead Fulani bodies did not make the front page of newspapers, neither did the killings trend on Twitter. Sadly, Nigerians have reduced human lives to football, playing home and away matches in massacre. Who scored more goals? Who killed more people? How can “my people” protect themselves? Or how can “my people” revenge? That is the unfolding story of Nigeria. What an apology for a human society!

After the blame game, where do we go from here? How do we pick up the pieces, heal the wounds and prevent the next bloodbath? In preparing this article, I did a little internet search on clashes between farmers and herders in West Africa — in order to better understand patterns, undertones and antidotes. The findings were absolutely terrifying. On April 9, 1989, in Diawara, eastern Senegal, Fulani herdsmen and Mauritanian Soninke farmers clashed following a drought that created grazing challenges. Hundreds were killed. Over 250,000 persons were displaced. The ensuing Senegal-Mauritania Border War lasted for two years.

In March 2016, a violent clash between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in north-east Cote d’Ivoire led to 17 deaths, AFP reported. In May 2016, armed Bambara and Fulani groups clashed in Tenenkou, west Mopti, Mali, leading to 20 deaths. In November same year, 18 persons died in clashes between herders and farmers in Bangui, Niger Republic. In November 2017, nine persons died in the Kwahu East District of Ghana following clashes between Fulani herdsmen and villagers. A commenter named Yaa Nyamekye wrote on Ghanaweb.com: “Why should foreigners take over our lands! Fulani, Chinese and Nigerians have taken over Ghana!”

Back to Nigeria, farmers and herders have perennially clashed. As a kid in my village in the 1970s, I witnessed some of these confrontations. Herders seasonally invaded our farmlands to audaciously feed their cattle. At some point, village hunters were put on guard to repel them. Aggression, clashes and deaths have scaled up all over Nigeria in recent years. The herders are now acting lawlessly, destroying people’s livelihood, taking over public places and going scot-free. These incidents have become more highlighted under Buhari, who is also of the Fulani stock and a cattle rearer to boot. The conspiracy theory is complete.

The Benue killings, in which 73 farmers and family members were killed by herdsmen “because our cows were stolen”, have accentuated many issues. There are allegations that the president tacitly supports the activities of the herdsmen by failing to act with the same enthusiasm and determination he displayed in dealing with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).  The killings have also offered opportunities for politicians to play 2019 politics — the same way Buhari’s APC used Boko Haram killings to slaughter President Jonathan in 2015. Those who enjoy toying with ethnic and religious emotions are also having a ball, particularly on social media.

Beyond the politicisation of the killings, however, there are matters we need to be dispassionate about if our interest is to resolve the crisis. The immediate causes can be traced to these factors: (1) geography/ecology (2) culture and (3) insecurity. But, evidently, leadership failure is at the centre of it all. I will try my best to explain my thoughts within the space constraints. My major objective today is to call for reason. If we are going to build lasting peace, we must disrobe ourselves of the pervasive political, ethnic and religious emotions currently at play. We need an open mind. More bloodshed may look appealing in the heat of the moment, but nobody will be safe in the end.

One, in terms of geography and ecology, climate change has forced a vast majority of the herdsmen to migrate downwards in search of fresh pasture in recent years. In an essay by Malcolm Fabiyi and Adeleke Otunuga, they said Nigeria has 22 million cows that consume about one billion gallons of water per day and 500 million kilograms of grass and forage crops. Lake Chad is drying up. Desertification and Boko Haram war have combined to drive herders increasingly southward since 2012. They are seeking survival. However, this has huge security implications. A proactive government would usually anticipate the consequences and develop appropriate plans and policies.

Two, culturally, the Fulani herders are nomadic. Ranching is alien to them. In the days when there was law and order in Nigeria — and I mean in the colonial era — we had grazing routes, complete with water supply, security, tax collectors and veterinary medical facilities. Now that all these have collapsed, the herders think they have a divine right to graze anywhere and nobody can stop them. Invading farms and wrecking the economy of farmers has become very normal for them. A proactive and responsible government will work at re-orientating the herders to embrace modern practices, deploying all moral suasion strategies to deal with the inefficient, outdated nomadic system.

Three, herders are at the mercy of rustlers who ambush them and steal their cattle. These criminal gangs are hardly apprehended or punished. Our security agencies are more competent in arresting bloggers and handcuffing them for “libel”. They have little competence in protecting the citizens despite the billions they get in budgetary allocations. Herders resort to arming themselves and deploying self-help since there is effectively no government. Unfortunately, both the criminal gangs and the menacing herdsmen never face the full weight of the law. The primary reason for having a government is to prevent anarchy. So where is government?

These are the things I think responsible leadership should offer. One, address the grazing crisis. The idea of creating “colonies” will work well in some areas but fail woefully in other areas because of historical divides. Government must get the buy-in of host communities. We must avoid trying to solve one problem and creating another. I repeat: government must tread carefully. Two, the herdsmen must be re-orientated to understand that we live in the 21st century and their “roaming culture” must be within the law. They have no right to carry on as if everywhere belongs to them. If everybody does what he likes, there will be no country left at the end of the day.

Three, those who fail to play by the rule must face the law. Nobody should ruin someone else’s farms or take lives and go scot-free. Four, conflict management must be central to policies and measures aimed at solving these problems. Government should design a system of early warning and a complaint/grievance management mechanism for herders, farmers and villagers. Aggrieved parties must be able to channel their grievances in a civilised manner rather than resort to self-help. Above all, leaders must genuinely work to promote justice and equity. They must cast aside their prejudices. If our leaders keep sleeping on the job, Somalia is sure to happen to us.

And Four Other Things…

NORTH MY WILL

With Alhaji Ahmed Abubakar’s appointment as the DG of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the navy now remains the only security service not headed by a northerner (and for those who don’t know, chief of defence staff heads no service). Could it be that President Buhari can’t find any northerner yet to lead the navy? Even the major paramilitary services, which used to be manned by middle-belters for regional balancing, are now headed by the “core north”. I think this is a record. I’m not aware of any other time in our history when security has been so northernised. As someone who supports “balancing” because of our delicate national make-up, I’m scandalised. Insensitive.

METEORIC RICE

When I heard that rice exports from Thailand to Nigeria dropped from 1.23 million metric tonnes in 2014 to 23,192mt as at November 2017, I was over the moon. It was a confirmation that our rice policy is working, I concluded. But a colleague drew my attention to the figures coming from Benin Republic: as Nigeria’s imports were decreasing, Benin’s imports were increasing. To the best of my knowledge, most people in Benin eat local rice. The logical conclusion is that Benin’s imports were meant for the Nigerian market through the land border (complete the sentence!) By the way, contrary to my assertion last week, Thailand and Vietnam have missions in Nigeria. Apologies.

ZERO ZAMFARA

And so, only 24 candidates from Zamfara state passed the 2017 November/December senior school certificate examination of the National Examinations Council (NECO). In fact, the examination was taken by only 186 candidates in the state. The governor, Alhaji Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari, is also the chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum. He spends most of his time in Abuja and Saudi Arabia, and blames fornication for epidemics. He is a young man by some definition — he was elected governor in 2011 at 43. Maybe age is not the super solution to our leadership crisis. Yari will leave office next year, proud of himself that after eight years, only 24 candidates passed NECO. Disaster.

TRUMP’S TANTRUMS

The erratic US President Donald Trump never has any kind words for Africa. Reported to have called Africa a “shithole” (he denied using that word but said he used a “tough” word which he refused to disclose), Trump has come under attack from African leaders. As disgusting as Trump’s words are, maybe we also have to look in the mirror. Most Nigerians who migrate to the US do so for economic reasons. If our country was working — just the basics of stable electricity, good roads, quality education, security and good jobs — who cares about America? The ultimate solution to tackling racist countries is for us to put our house in order. Trump’s words really hurt. Demeaning.

  • AA

    Simon is a compromised, fork-tongued, sycophant. This piece is disgusting. Total nonsense.

  • Daniel

    There is no need to be a journalist, if you have no balls to say the truth.

    Simon has no shame at all.

  • Kelly

    I stopped reading and commenting on this guy’s column when I realised he is such a pathetic and dishonest fellow. Today I tried reading the column and started vomiting half way. This guy is a disgrace to this noble profession of journalism. What will happen to him if decides to have a stand or even dare say the truth?

  • Iskacountryman

    children…children…stop venting your frustrations on simon…he is a poor journalist…

  • PolicyAnalyst

    Mayo, there is something called “Non Aligned” . It is in fact the best of reporting… stating the facts and leave readers to make up there minds. So, Simon is entitle to his style of journalism. Nothing spoil, bro!

    • Mayo

      You are mixing up 2 things – News reporting and Opinion piece. In news reporting, you state (all) the facts and leave readers to make up their minds. In an opinion piece, you are writing from your POV (this is what I think/believe) and you adduce arguments/facts to support your belief. Even though you are writing your opinion, you are not expected to make up facts or misinterpret facts. The guidelines for submitting op-eds (i.e. opinion pieces) to NYTimes says …We also need all of the material that supports the facts in your story. That’s the biggest surprise to some people. Yes, we do fact check

      Secondly, Simon did not state the facts and leave readers to make up their mind. Simon half heartedly blamed Buhari and then turned around to also say it’s other people’s fault. Simon also misinterpreted facts.

  • William Norris

    What’s wrong with Somalia?

    • MDG2020

      Abii ooooo!

  • Mystic mallam

    Simon, you are looking to be more daft than I’d credited you. That “prominent Northern politician” who called you angrily demanding that you put greater pressure on Buhari to take more decisive action against Fulani herders was right you know. He held Buhari responsible for reneging on his oath of office – the responsibility to protect all Nigerians not his preferred cross section of them. Why couldn’t you do the same, take his advise to hold Buhari responsible for the mayhem in Benue and other states rather than flailing about in your write-up like some stemless reed in the wind? About the security outfit, you’re only opening your eyes now, why, because of Ayo?

  • Fowad

    Government has once again failed to prevent the loss of lives of Nigerians. Once again we have got the government we deserve, a government more concerned with how much money they funnel into their personal accounts than care about how to cement the unity of Nigeria they mouth all the time.
    This is a clear sign that Buhari has no idea what security connotes. Security does not mean the president should look stern and scare people away from criticising him. In saner climes the president would have fallen on his sword and gone. In Nigeria it is the people’s fault, not the president error of judgment of what governance means. Sad all the way.

  • Grelia O

    There was a time a people refused to accept the splitting of regions into states, and the abolition of resource control. The reaction was swift. There was immediate gang-up against them and the aggression didn’t just end with the level of butchery that was the first of its kind in magnitude and savagery on the African continent, the govt imposed an economic annihilation policy against the already defeated and traumatized people to complete the Final Solution.

    Apart from Wole Soyinka’s courageous and robust lone-ranger rejection of, and objection to the pogrom for which he was jailed by the authorities for defying the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil injunction, where was the outrage?

    When different Nigerians are treated differently for primitive and parochial reasons, the result is the bedlam that Nigeria has become. The nation and, especially the Fourth Estate, ignored and, therefore, supported impunity in the greatest tragedy in the history of the nation. That passivity gave a go-ahead signal and, therefore, set a precedence that it is okay to target “the other,” especially when that other is not part of the politically powerful coalition in neo Nigeria.

    When will Simon and his colleagues grow a backbone and do their traditional, professional and, above all, patriotic duty to the nation, to mankind? That duty is standing for the truth, standing for objectivity, speaking truth to power.

    The lawless acts of the usual suspects is perennial, and it is always so brazen and bloody. The govt almost always looks the other way, and whenever it reacts, it rationalizes the aggression one way or the other. Imagine the VP cautioning against politicizing the butchery when the remains of over 70 innocent souls were still in a pool of blood. A minister follow-up with a grazing colonies proposal to pacify the animals that did the killing.

    As much as I hate to say it, the chicken is truly coming home to roost. This will not be the last, unfortunately.

  • Olufemi Bello

    President Buhari went to Zanfara State in full military General uniform to fight cattle thieves (cattle rustlers) but has not done similar thing in the state where human beings are been killed. God will judge.

  • John Paul

    “After the blame game, where do we go from here? How do we pick up the pieces, heal the wounds and prevent the next bloodbath?”
    ———————————————————————–
    In addition to the solutions set forth by Kolawole in his essay, the National Assembly and/or all State assemblies should regulate the cattle industry. For starters the cattle industry bill should contain the following:

    1. Every herdsman must be licensed, after an application process that includes taking their biometric data, including fingerprint and passport photographs;

    2. Every herdsman must undergo a mandatory 50 hours training, before they are giving their license, with a 20 hours refresher course every 2 years. This course will include topics like respect for life and property rights of others, penalty for destroying the life, crops and property of others, and how to enforce their rights when their cattle as rustled;

    3. Every local government in Nigeria has a court and a police station. Special units should be opened in these courts and police stations on how to expeditiously deal with cases of crop destruction by herdsmen, murder and other crimes by herdsmen, as well as cattle rustling;

    4. As part of their licensing requirement, every herdsman should be compelled to purchase an insurance policy which will be used to pay for any destruction of property or life by them ;

    5. The time has come for Nigerians, especially Nigerians of Northern origin, to go into cattle ranching. As opposed to lining up to run for president, under some retrogressive zoning formula, rich Northerners like Atiku Abubakar, Sule Lamido, Rabiu Kwankwaso, etc, should set up ranches all over Northern Nigeria. After all, charity begins at home

    As for the people that killed those 73 farmers, earlier this month, and the people that killed the 100’s of herdsmen, in Bachama, Adamawa state and Mambilla, Taraba State, last year, the authorities should hound them down, arrest them, prosecute them, and punish them to the highest extent of the law

    Every Nigerian, including herdsmen and farmers, have to be made to understand that, other than self defense, when threat to life is imminent and contemporaneous, there is no excuse to taking another person’s life.

    • Fems

      Thank you for your write up. Buhari has failed to stand up and be counted but unfortunately who will. Yaradua took similar stance during the Jos crises. I believe only the National Assembly can come up with proper legislations to handle this considering everyone is represented and all views would be taking.

    • tobias

      John Paul, don’t let miyetti Allah start looking for you o with this your ‘draconian anti-herdsmen’ proposal. In short quickly retrieve it before your hero or his press people read it. He will bring out his carving knife to personally carve you up and serve you for suya. Abi life and praise-singing don tire you?

      • John Paul

        We have to try not to politicize everything in Nigeria

        Additionally, please remember that the people that looted and mismanaged most of that $268 billion, that Nigeria made between 2011 to 2015, have killed more Nigerians indirectly, than all the people that Fulani Herdsmen have killed between 1999 and today

        The people killed by those idiotic looters include the following:

        1. The Members of our military that died in the Northeast, on account of the fact that PDP looted the funds that was meant to equip our military;

        2. Thousands of Nigerians that died in ghastly motor accidents, on account of the pot-hole ridden roads that PDP refused to fix during their 16 years in government;

        3. Thousands of Nigerians that have died on account of maternal and infant mortality, because some idiots, during the last dispensation, believed that looting our resources, to import luxury goods, was more important than our healthcare system;

        4. The numerous Nigerians that have lost their lives to kidnappers and armed robbers, on account of the fact that PDP’s 16 years, culture of looting, set the example for our youth, that instead of working hard, kidnapping and armed robber was the way to go

        So inasmuch as Nigerians are rightfully expressing outrage against the murderers of those farmers, Nigerians have to remember that kleptocratic public office holders, have killed more Nigerians than all the herdsmen combined

        • tobias

          story of our life and not just of the last 16 years. well you know your proposal is a nonstarter anyway. I think it is better for them to retreat to home base and get setup by their home governments. Or they can go into partnership with land owners. They contribute livestock and landowners land as equity, and a business is borne. Don’t you think that will save us a lot of headache? But I know your man will not countenance that. As far as he and his irks are concerned, the lands are God-given (mind you not the cows) and therefore free for herdsmen’s use. You cannot continue to kill people, do nothing about it and expect everything not to be politicized.

          • John Paul

            My broda, let’s stay focused on the solution.

            You have raised some good points. Positive minded people look at every problem as a stepping stone to better things, by devising solutions to those problems.

            As you pointed out, turning the cattle business into big business can be part of the solution. Herdsmen can partner with landowners. Or deep pockets, especially deep pockets in the North, can go into sophisticated cattle rearing.

            Regarding the presidency not supporting a cattle industry legislation. Even assuming that is true, which it is not, remember that under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, there are checks and balances. The National Assembly is a coequal arm of government with the executive, including the presidency

            So we should divide our obsession with the presidency in half, and devote the other half to pushing our overpaid legislature to do their job, and pass a cattle industry bill. Perhaps, with some of the provisions that was referenced above

          • tobias

            John Paul, before you can proffer solutions you first of all properly define the problem. And this is where we hit the brick wall. What is the problem? The problem according to your President and his ethnic champions is the people of Benue, etc. who are not given the herdsmen free access to their farms. What’s wrong with them? Do they want the cows to die? Cows must eat to live and it doesn’t matter whose farm is eaten up to ensure that. Land, grass, cassava, yam, etc. came from God, isn’t it? So what’s the problem of this so-called land owners? Talking about bills, proposing bills for legislative consideration is one of the key functions of the executive, so don’t try to pass buck here. You mentioned cow industry bill. What’s that? Me, I wasn’t talking of any cow industry bill o! I was just talking about simple bilateral business arrangements between two or more willing partners which I believe is already covered by existing commercial/corporate laws.

          • John Paul

            The idea behind a bill can originate from anywhere.

            It can originate from the executive, including the presidency. It can originate from the legislature. It can even originate from civil society. Ultimately the legislature, Federal and State, have the obligation to reduce an idea, as set forth in any bill, into law

            Assuming that all the causes of the herdsman/farmer conflict, that you enumerated above are correct, it is important to understand training and educating herdsmen as a prerequisite to licensing them, will solve many of those problems

            In every progressive country, no one drives a car or operates a forklift without a license. And issuance of that license is usually preceded by taking a course that is relevant to operating their vehicle of choice. So these herdsmen should be trained and licensed

            Many problems are caused by lack of information and can be solved by information and training. And no one is impervious to education and training

            So if our overpaid lawmakers can snap out of their champagne-induced slumber, and do their jobs, they can enact creative legislation to solve many of our problems

          • tobias

            the training they would need is how to increase the output of their herds. that’s where government and universities come in. the only other thing they need to do is register their business. they don’t need any licence.

        • jasper123

          Looting actually started in Nigeria in 1999 and ended in 2015 according to you! Your highlighted points above(1-4) which were some of the reasons why GEJ was booted out still exist today, soldiers still die in the north east, people still die in road accidents as a result of poor roads, our president had to run to England to safe his life despite promising otherwise during campaigns, more kidnappers have emerged in the last 3 years, it’s a daily occurrence now! Leaders still use 400m to cut grass! What has changed? Mind you, price of oil is currently at 3 year high with our foreign reserves at 3 year high with no direct effect on the economy of the people. More and more Nigerians are relocating to countries where they are not wanted…the country needs restructuring now than ever before and that is what the president is shying away from!

    • Mayo

      We don’t need any extra laws since existing laws cover most of the issues you have raised. We have a law against destruction of other people’s property (be it crops by cattle or cattle by other people).

      We don’t have to advocate for wealthy Nigerians to go into cattle ranching. This is business and if they see a demand, they will go into it.

      • John Paul

        You are correct in the sense that Nigeria has laws against Murder, Manslaughter, Trespassing, etc.

        Nevertheless, like in every other progressive country, whenever an industry becomes very big and expands exponentially, lawmakers have to enact industry specific laws, to deal with the problems that almost always arise with the expansion of every industry

        Most of these industry specific laws are enacted as precautionary measures to prevent the members of that industry from harming members of the public and violating other laws

        As an example, if the excessive amount of lead in a product kills a customer, the owner of the product can be liable under our extant criminal and tort laws. But the Food and Drug Administration, as a precautionary measure, sets a limit on the amount of lead that can be found in any product. That way, problems are prevented before they arise

        This herdsman problem has been going on for quite sometime now. It is becoming more prevalent because as our population has increased, so have the amount of cows on the street.

        By 2040, Nigeria’s population is projected to be about 400 million. If we do not start enacting reasonable laws now, by then, the amount of cows being herded in Nigeria will be more than the 22 million cows that we have now. We may even have up to 70 million cows, being herded at that time, with all the attendant problems

        So we need an industry specific legislation to start dealing with the problems we are facing now and the problems that may arise tomorrow.

        • Mayo

          You’re comparing apples and oranges. Without a law stating the limit of allowed lead, you can’t charge a product manufacturer for the death of someone who died from alleged ‘lead poisoning’. You need a baseline for it.

          Without any ‘extra’ or ‘special’ laws, if I go and kill somebody’s cow, there are laws under which I will be charged. If your cows go and destroy my farmland, there are laws under which I will be charged. If there are things that we our laws did not expressly forbid and people have been doing it (with no issues) but then due to changes in life (technology, society, etc) those things are no longer applicable, then you can create a law to prohibit it. For example in the olden days, we practised polygamy. Due to ‘modernisation’, polygamy was now frowned upon and Nigeria enacted laws against Bigamy (even though it is not strictly enforced). So at the end of the day, I have not seen what relates to cows/cattle that cannot be handled by existing laws but I agree I could be wrong and need someone to show me so.

          • John Paul

            My broda, you are wrong.

            Even without “a baseline”, you can charge people for recklessly, or intentionally violating a general standard of care. This is true even where there is no statute that sets a specific standard of care for that industry

            But that is neither here nor there. It does not make sense to argue for the sake of argument

            As Nigerians, the time has come for us to start looking for solutions to our problems, instead of whining and throwing tantrums anytime we identify a problem.

            If you do not agree with a solution, set forth your own. Who knows, maybe you will solve the problems.

          • Mayo

            What exactly is ‘general standard’? There must be a definition of ‘general standard’ especially when it comes to chemical elements. You can’t charge somebody for violating a general standard of care if there is no official definition of general standard of care. Didn’t you hear about the case when a Lagos high court ruled that drinks bottled by NBC were dangerous (the drinks were rejected in the UK because of the level of benzoic acid) and NBC appealed the ruling because they said the quantity of benzoic acid met the standard approved for Nigeria which is higher than the standard in UK but still lower than the world standard?

            Anyway, let’s not drown ourselves in specifics. Let me repeat what I have said before – yes, there are instances where specific laws are needed but as of now I have not seen any case for that regarding the cattle business but I’m open to be convinced.

    • American Abroad

      Often, when I read your comments, I have to pinch myself.
      I may not always, indeed I often don’t, agree with your prescriptions, but they’re so free of self-pity, demonization of the “Other”, backwards (or otherwise magical) thinking and historical revision that I wonder: are you really Nigerian?
      Don’t you have a tribe to support? Don’t you know that Mr Buhari is not just old and incompetent (as most 80-somethings invariably are, never mind the grand pretense at being a spry 75 year-old), but is also the Anti-Christ? Don’t you know Mr Buhari is trying to “islamize” Nigeria, not by “sword or Koran”, which was the oeuvre of Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio, but by sword or AK47 (forget the Koran)?
      Please tell me you ain’t Nigerian.

      • MDG2020

        ……… JP a de-tribalized 97 percenter INDEED! with ALL his facts about STOLEN $268 Billions: yet sit daily around his pot of kunu with this tale by moonlight, while ALL ongoing court cases NATIONWIDE bothering on GEJ PROFLIGACY (with HIS THIEVING BAND) amount to less than 1 Billion USD, factor in the recovered ghost house and ghost millions, you have another $1 Billion, which leave me wondering where exactly the remaining $266 Billion is buried, dead or alive?
        You the akata prof, may want to throw more light on this: but please in ENGLISH!

        • American Abroad

          Wow.
          The difference between talent and genius is the ability to slander an entire racial demographic (African-Americans, that is, with the pejorative “akata”), the better-educated (in English, all fully capitalized, for added effect!!) and my humble self (least of all, as I am generally immune to inanities), all in one short sentence! Wish our genius was more focused on the tough job of nation-building. I’d sooner invite JP to my house than most, your good self included.
          Sigh.

          • MDG2020

            …….. I remain happy with my ANTI-SOCIAL (never the type that visits) lifestyle – took after daddy (Ogbonnia)!
            My question to you and JP still unanswered????????

    • MDG2020

      …… JP you voted a dunce whose ONLY understanding of governance is ANCHORED on “pytin kwarrapson” anything outside of this, is ALIEN to his limited world view.
      Try to leave with the CALAMITY you and simon have brought upon yourselves and other 97 percenters.
      “It has HAPPENED before, and it will still HAPPEN again, in the firm, we call it the DEVIL’S ALTERNATIVE”

      • William Norris

        Ah, that was Adam Munro talking to the President in the Devil’s Alternative.

        One of my all time favorite books.
        Made me smile.

        And The Firm knows all about Nigeria, you betcha. Have a nice day!

    • Iskacountryman

      this is discrimination…eboe patent medicine who sell fake medicines are not so monitored…

  • James Gunn

    I have said it before. Buhari is simply a senile demented fellow. The question all sane Nigerians should ask themselves is this: When the National Security Council meets and the minister of Defense, the minister of the interior, the director of the Dss (internal) the director of the Nia (external) the IG of police, the chief of army staff, the Efcc chairman, the attorney general of the federation and the National security advisor sit down to discuss security issues of the entire country with the president and everybody in that meeting are all from one region of the country, how in all that is good can they come up with intricate, incisive and pan national solutions to the security challenges of the entire nation. This president is the most insensitive, most archaic, most anti democratic president to ever be cursed to govern Nigeria. The only positive that can come out of this is when he’s voted out eventually and a new president is in power, Nigerians will understand that being democratic, listening to the majority and adhering to the rule of law are not signs of him / her being weak but being liberal. This president doesn’t care about any Nigerian. When a president can go abroad and accuses his citizens of being corrupt, why do we have the gall to criticize Donald Trump for calling us shit hole countries. A president that cannot speak Hausa on BBC Hausa and tell the herdsmen ‘stop grazing on private farms, they belong to others, stop killing people for objecting to u grazing on their farms’ is that a president? I never supported this man. I knew what was in store for us but alas here we are. I hope everyone who supported and voted for him is happy inside. A coup plotter can never make a democratic president.

    • Lawrenece Ifo

      I can never blame Buhari because this is not his first outing. As his world view is clear right from onset.
      But people used ethnic interest, under the vener of anti corruption and weakness of leadership to ignore the obvious fact.
      That is exactly the indices of a SHITHOLE…doing the same thing,and expecting different results.
      Those who gave the monkey the cup of water should do their best to either retrieve the cup or accept it that way.

    • tobias

      Buhari doesn’t see the lands as belonging to somebody. In their minds, the lands belong to everybody and nobody. And that’s the premise for the igp calling the killings ‘communal’ clashes; clashes between two people having equal claims to an economic resource – land. It’s the same mindset that gave us the land use decree. When you are powerful, “what belongs to others is ours collectively and who belongs to you remains solely yours”. Regarding the security meetings, there is one big advantage, they can dispense with english and chat away in their local dialect. Good for proceedings!

    • MDG2020

      Intelligent People, ask INTELLIGENT Questions.
      Your comment above showed one thing, whoever raised you, is a HONEST-STRAIGHT-FORWARD-PRINCIPLED Personality, and has passed same down to you.
      By there FRUITS you shall know them. God bless you bro or sis!

    • share Idea

      Your point was exactly what GEJ stated in Enugu during presidential campaign when he read excerpt of coup speech read by IBB when Buhari was overthrown.

      It is only Buhari that had a Northern VP during the military era. Buhari kept VP Ekwueme in prison and kept Shagari under house arrest. I don’t think any discerning mind in Nigeria would be shocked about his actions (morseo, people from SE). Majority experiences Buhari’s non nationalistic attitude and warned the nation during the election but so many called us names, and claimed that we supported GEJ because he is from SS.

      Some of the people that called us names forgot that SE voted for OBJ even when Ojukwu contested against him. Greater majority of SE knows what injustices is and always look for someone that will either reduce / maintain current injustice and not some that would manifestly increase the injustice and call the bluff of people complaining.

  • Fidelis A.

    Dear Simon, under your very nose and with your eyes, you shall see this government fall on or before the next elections. They shall fall on their own sword. God not dey sleep……. Your political correctness and double speak is nauseating to right thinking Nigerians.

    • tobias

      I beg make una cut Simon some slack. Abi ona no see say the poor boy don dey retrace his steps small small? Is it possible for a drug or alcohol addict to clean himself in one fellswoop?

  • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

    It must really hurt sitting on the fence all the time, legs ajar.
    On each and every topic you cover, there is never a stand, never a position. Sadly Sir, and the problem for you, is that you cannot reverse a pregnancy.
    You have the platform of forming views of especially the young and the unknowledgeable so you need to become more responsible with your pen.
    For example, it is not what President Trump said, it is that a President is not allowed to express racist views because it is disrespectful to Africa a continent that help build your country. Why can’t you just say that?
    Why can’t you just advice that countries that achieve successful beef industries do so through ranches and not maurauding round the country as though ownership of land and farms don’t matter – what is so hard about saying that?
    Every week you tie yourself up with words that no longer mean anything. You denegrate and ruin your reputation on the alter of trying to please I don’t know who. And now you have become a journalist who falls for everything because you stand for nothing.

    • Fidelis A.

      Simon is a disgrace…..no kind words for him this morning.

      • American Abroad

        Dear Fidelis:
        I almost always agree with you, but this is a different situation. The government let a festering blight become gangrenous, to purloin a medical analogy.
        Mr Kolawole can be diffident, but this sticky situation warrants it.

    • Mayo

      It’s just tiring! He never wants to take a stand. Some would argue that he’s trying to be fair and balanced but that is not the same thing as not taking a stand.

      Simon doesn’t even realize that while trying not to ruffle any feathers by not taking a stand, he’s doing more damage to himself and to his brand. Nobody takes him seriously.

      • American Abroad

        Nothing, they say, is as well-hidden as an obvious fact. Perhaps, he is actually trying to be “fair and balanced” after all.
        This subject is a very emotional issue, and all sides are pretty well dug-in. I have read Wole Soyinka’s piece in the Vanguard, which was utterly compelling; I have also read Emir Sanusi’s piece (ibid), which gave an alternative and equally disturbing viewpoint.
        To survive as country, workable solutions must be found, criminals must be prosecuted, tit-for-tat hostility must be abrogated, and Internet flamethrowers must ask each other what their motives for continuously fanning embers of civil discontent are.
        We can all agree that Mr Buhari is slow-footed, incompetent, dim-witted, and uneven-handed, but he is still President until 2019 at least. We can all agree that having almost all members of the national Security leadership from the Northern parts of Nigeria is counter-productive in times of crisis, after all, Mr Buhari was not so senile as to insist that the neurosurgeons attending to his injured son all be sourced from Daura. My point: the President obviously knows what is right, only that he consistently puts Self (and personal safety/convenience) before Nation. Tying Mr Kolawole to an all-pervasive governmental incompetence seems a rather unproductive strategy to me. We should be asking the President and our Legislators to act now!!

        • Mayo

          Let me give an example to explain what I mean by not taking a stand…

          This article is primarily about the most recent Benue crisis. There is no way you can dice Buhari’s response and not come to the conclusion that Buhari mishandled this situation (i.e. if you even call it a response). Simon could have devoted this article to it and called out Buhari fairly and squarely on it. He can then do a seperate article talking about the different killings and their cause. Instead Simon ‘half heartedly’ tries to call out Buhari and immediately pivots to how Fulanis were also killed (which is a false equivalence because they were not among the 73 people that were killed, the people who did the killing have also come out to say it was because their cows were stolen).

          In also talking about the Fulanis who were killed before, Simon says it did not trend in National Media. Is Simon giving that as an excuse why Buhari didn’t act? More importantly, did Simon write an article calling out his fellow Journalists?

          So at the end, Simon is trying to do – let me blame Buhari small because sentiments seem to be against him and at the same time it is not actually Buhari’s fault/he is not actually sympathizing with the Fulanis because the Fulanis have also suffered losses. As they say, there is a right time and place for everything.

          As you pointed out, criminals must be prosecuted and tit-for-tat hostility must be abrogated. The way to do that is to punish any criminal act as soon as it happens and if Government doesn’t do it, the media is meant to hold the government accountable. Simon does neither of this.

          Finally, this has been Simon’s style – never taking a stand, misinterpreting facts that stare him in the face. I don’t mind anybody supporting another person (that is our God given right) but be bold to do so and support the person with facts (you can ignore facts that don’t put the person in positive light) but don’t misinterpret facts or lie about stuff.

          • FrNinja

            Kolawole is not a journalist. He is a Buhari apologist. About the fulani, climate change may be the reason they are moving south in increasing numbers but its not the reason they are killing farmers. They have an age old tendency of invasion and theft of land. Look at what they did in Northern Cameroon in the 19th century where they chased out the indigenous farmers and occupied their land. Or how did the fulani end up ruling Hausa states and one yoruba state? Was that climate change?

        • Daniel Obior

          Buhari knows what is right? Maybe I do not understand your meaning. A man who has consistently done all the wrong things with all the negative results, cannot be said to know what is right. Else we can excuse a serial murderer for “knowing the right thing”, only that he is thirsty for the blood of others.

    • American Abroad

      Dear Michael: Generally, like Mr Bevans, I agree that folks who walk down the middle of the road often risk being hit by an oncoming bus. But the long and brutal history of farmer-herdsmen hostilities might actually require more circumspection in the near-term. Easy, friend, easy….

  • Darcy

    Sir, these are the three problems you brought as a defence of the plight of the herdsmen:

    1. “in terms of geography and ecology…”

    a. But those conditions are worsened by their itinerant ways. This means that their used water can’t be recycled, feeding their cattle damages the farmcrops of others and the education, possible with a nomadic lifestyle traps them in poverty e.t.c.

    2. “culturally, the Fulani herders are nomadic…”

    a. So is the AK 47 and Islam, yet… More dangerously, this is false. The Caliph Muhammed Bello and the Amir Ahmad Seko, both enforced ranching in their reigns. In addition, as noted previously, ranching would make them richer!

    3. “Three, herders are at the mercy of rustlers…”

    a. Perhaps because they’re constantly on the move? Ranches have fences and can allow easy monitoring by the Police.

    In conclusion, the herdsmen are acting against their own self-interest and killing innocents to boot. There is no defence for their archaic lifestyle, it should be condemned!

    Either they ranch or they should be treated like criminals. That is the only workable consensus.

    • FrNinja

      If Igbo traders in the north carried AK47s best believe Buhari would call it a security crisis. But where his greedy people are concerned? Conspiracy of silence an inaction.

      • Darcy

        AK47 is too much, common water pistol.

        But it’s just not a Buhari thing, it’s a Nigeria thing. Note how its only Igbos that ever expected to vote for other people’s sons, to “join hands”.

        As if GEJ and OBJ who won in Igboland are Igbo.

  • Arabakpura

    The Buhari persona is the singular reason for the crisis in Nigeria today! We voted for him to stop the “eating” of public money by the PDP; but, today, we feel that it is better to “eat” money than to eat human beings which has been rampant under the Buhari administration!

    As for Zamfara, the FG should not look too far in searching for the “Cattle Colony” for the Fulani herdsmen; they can use the whole of Zamfara state! I bet anyone that Nigeria can become a net producer and exporter of Milk for the whole of Africa!

    • Drake Solo

      And who said they are not eating money?

      • Arabakpura

        Ok, they are eating both money and human beings which makes it a double jeopardy for Nigerians!

        • Lawrenece Ifo

          Hahaha.

    • Lawrenece Ifo

      How can only “Buhari persona” be the problem?
      So one man can hold the multitude of people hostage?
      If that view holds, it is either that the place is a zoo or a SHITHOLE.
      Listen to the statements of some leaders from Benue state and even the governor of Plateu state and you will see that the problem is deeper than just Buhari.
      They have no issue with the killing of people but have issue with the fact they betrayed them by killing them. Instead of other people based on the solemn pact prior to the genocide.

      Let us not shy away from the fact and the skewed psyche that encourage people like Buhari to emerge and will continue to emerge.

      • Arabakpura

        If the buck stops at somebody’s table and that person has a conflicting personality, obviously,you will be in for a nightmare!

        You can’t shift the inability of a family to make progress on the children or their mother but the father; where you have a controversial father, your assignment becomes very easy for you and you don’t need to look too far where the problem comes from!

        So, nobody my good friend can exonerate a man who started by dividing his family into 97/5% before leading them and has also armed some of his children with Sophisticated weapons and leaving the others bare and expect them to compete!

        Such man’s family will be in a mess and that’s where Nigeria is right now!

        • Lawrenece Ifo

          Bros,
          I am not even trying to exonerate him but just want to say that he is a product of the condition which allowed such a man to “arrive and thrive” in such a position.
          Because we cannot just reduce it to father and children relationship.
          As that will amount to depending on his subjective whims.

        • Don Franco

          Dear Arakpabura:

          I don’t know that similarly situated and comparatively inclined Biafrans, like myself, form part of this Buhari-headed family that you described. ….

  • The “para-military” outfit NSCDC is headed by a middle – belter Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu from Niger state.

    • Don Franco

      Dear Amed Omar,

      Clap for yourself!

      • I still insist middle-belt is in northern Nigeria.

        Gana is a nupe name please.

        • Don Franco

          So if your “Middle Belt” is in your North; and the NSCD CG is a northerner, what then is your point in stating the obvious? How can “Gana” be a Nupe name when Baba Gana Kingibe and Shettima Abba Gana (both Kanuris from Monguno) are from Borno?
          The benefits of a Kaduna education are never ending. .. Jackassery!

          • Ok

          • American Abroad

            Dear Don,
            You are incorrect on this score. Idrisi Gana, the Emir of Pategi is actually Nupe. The Gana brothers, Jerry (retired Professor and perpetual Presidential aspirant under AGIP) and Daniel (medico, of Sauki Hospital, I seem to recall) are Middle Belters, from Niger State. I know a few other Ganas from different tribes, including an Hausa Gana, and one, believe it or not, allegedly from Auchi. The moniker, Gana, is polysemous.

          • Don Franco

            Dear American Abroad:

            However polysemous the name Gana maybe; my argument is that it is primarily a Kanuri name, in other words, even those Nupe or Gwari Gana can all trace their ancestry to Kanem-Bornu. That there are more people named Gana from Bornu and Yobe is additional proof of the origins of the name.
            Who would have thought that Kano
            Senator Kwankwaso got his name from Okonkwo And Sons; there’s hardly one drop of Igbo blood in his provenance.
            My point is that a rose would still be a rose by any other name, apologies to William Shakespeare.
            All Gana originated from Kanuriland.

          • Iskacountryman

            his mother is kanuri…

          • Don Franco

            Iska:

            I thought the Zoo operated a Patrileanal system where animals took their father’s state of origin, not their mother’s?
            In any event, how did you figure out where his mother came from?
            Just see the extent you’ll go to defend foolery. …

          • Iskacountryman

            df…you ‘thought’?…do you have a headache?

    • tobias

      Ahmed, any other poc? Are all the other ones correct?

      • share Idea

        lol

  • Mayo

    Simon, this is an opinion piece which means you are writing from your POV but for once, please TAKE A STAND. This habit of portraying ‘false equivalence’ and ‘trying to please everybody’ even when facts are staring you in the face is becoming nauseating. Dele Momodu (apart from his last 2 articles) is a Buhari supporter. Every Saturday, he churns out articles in support of Buhari, he gets abused but he does the same thing next week. Why is that? Because he believes in Buhari (you can agree or disagree with him) and we all know where he stands. Your waffling on issues is simply amazing. If you are going to be for something, be for it totally. If you’re going to be against, then be against it.

    1) …It is particularly saddening that the Benue tragedy has provided a perfect setting for people to play politics of opportunism (2019 is around the corner, just your know),..

    To make the claim above gives the impression that folks have been quiet and only started talking because 2019 is around the corner. People have been criticizing Buhari’s response to the carnage by Herdsmen since it started happening under his regime. We all know that during the campaigns people had always criticized Buhari for being sectional.

    2) …It is not as if the Fulani have not been at the receiving end too — they were victims of massacres & hundreds were killed. Curiously, these tragedies went unnoticed by the national media; neither did the killings trend on Twitter….

    If it was not noticed by the National media, then you should lay the blame squarely on your colleagues after all you are a journalist but it trended on Twitter. In fact, if it didn’t trend on National media, doesn’t that tell you that your profession has a serious problem with Integrity? Did you write an article calling out your colleagues?

    3) …Buhari’s fire-brigade to the latest Benue killings

    Pray, what response? The head of the Miyeti Allah has been on TV basically owning up to the carnage. Has he been arrested? Or even invited for questioning? Has the President spoken on the recent killings? Trump got into hot water because 4 US soldiers died and he didn’t make any comment about it. Buhari kept quiet. There was a mass burial (MASS BURIAL) and the government did not bother to send a representative. Buhari’s re-election campaign was announced 24 hours after the carnage. And you’re here saying Buhari responded?

    • Razor

      Well said bro.

    • FrNinja

      Simon food is ready kolawole

  • Don Franco

    Dear Simon:

    Thank you for exculpating your Certificateless President from his criminal responsibility in the carnage of these latest 73 Benue innocents whose blood are crying out to Jehova”s great white throne for vengeance; vengeance such as can only come from a God that answereth by fire!

    From the 500 massacred in Southern Kaduna on 2th December 2016; to Agatu, Taraba, Enugu, and this 73 in Benue, in your cowardice to not call out the Daura Dullard, you have specialized in speaking from both sides of your mouth; you advocate the graveyard peace of One-Nigeria; but vehemently oppose the justice of restructuring this Zoo into a confederacy, that will effectively eradicate this problem. To confuse and muddle up the waters, you draw irrelevant and immaterial examples of Fulani herdsmen murders across West Africa, to insinuate that Nigeria isn’t in bad company alone; that ranching cattle is specific location isn’t a viable solution; that Miyetti Allah isn’t executing Buhar’s specific Jihadi orders to Islamic the rest of Nigeria by force of the AK-47…

    Simon, the faith of many of us who read this your hogwash of an article this morning, before heading out to church is strengthened, in the knowledge that you shall not escape the hottest part of Hell for supporting and endorsing the wholesale murder of innocents across the Zoo in the hope of a political appointment at some point in the future.

    In any event, Simon, the Middle Belt and their co-religionists in the South shall overcome and outlive Buhari and his Miyetti Allah Cattlemen Association of Jihadists; the gates of hell not prevail against us, go and tell them.

    • Razor

      Well said.

  • Sarah

    It is absolutely UNJUST that any individual moves his animals from his arid homestead and impose his animals on the lands of others at least 200km+ away. This is similar to what the British Empire did to our ancestors; colonialism and expropriation culminating in genocide of the target communities that are now being killed.
    Buhari/Osinbajo’s reluctance to deal with this situation, in face of early warning by Benue Governor, is sufficient ground to commence IMPEACHMENT proceedings.
    Suffice to say that it is now necessary to vote against Buhari/Osinbajo in 2019 if we want an indivisible Nigeria to survive beyond 2021.
    The re-election of this bumbling pair will lead to the demise of our country by 2021, may God forbid!

    • William Norris

      It’s time for TRIBAL AUTONOMY.

      Remove Dullard Buhari today and the next politician to take over the ALL POWERFUL Presidency will also misuse the office. Solution – drastically reduce the powers of the Presidency and the Fed Govt in general.

      You wrote:
      ——————————————————————————————————-
      This is similar to what the British Empire did to our ancestors; colonialism and expropriation culminating in genocide of the target communities that are now being killed.
      ——————————————————————————————————-

      The same colonialism continues today because NIGERIA, the British Resource Corporation created in 1914, still exists.

      Try and get over this your slavish ONE NIGERIA colonialist mentality. It’s disgusting.

      • Sarah

        Fool!
        My commitment to ONE UNITED INDISSOLUBLE Nigeria based on justice and equity dwarfs your doomed attempts to balkanise my country.
        Ask the Biafrans of 1967/70 about how our side beat them to humiliating surrender or better still ask Nnamdi Kanu of 2017 Biafra how it feels when Nigeria allows her Pythons to Dance.
        My beloved Nigeria is NOT perfect but we the Yoruba and our allies are committed to improving it. Our predecessors have already paid in blood to keep this country united; like them we will rise to the task if need be.

        • William Norris

          Justice & Equity in Nigeria? You promised that when you and the other Yoruba Cows campaigned for Buhari and you’re still here talking the same rubbish.

          There can NEVER be any justice and equity in Nigeria. Over 100 years now and you arseholes are still on it. Crawl back in your mother’s anus and shut up!

          • Sarah

            Coward. You detest your mother and want to insult her. But you lack the courage to do so directly. So you insult another person’s mother knowing that they will insult your mother in return.
            You can crawl back into your mother’s anus and while you are at it show her how you brought her into your gutter language. She will tell you how proud of you she is.

          • Razor

            Well said.

          • AA

            Pls ignore that one. It (can’t dignify Sarah with she) is not worth your response

        • Iskacountryman

          sara…stop calling william norris a fool…he is very sensitive…

        • FrNinja

          United for what? United in darkness with pot holed roads, crumbling schools, ill equipped hospitals? Even wretched Benin Republic will say no thanks to an offer to join the Nigerian zoo.

          The yoruba if they are not careful will end up back where they were before the british navy sailed into Lagos harbour – under the sword of fulani islamic conquest and selling themselves into slavery.

        • jasper123

          …how I wish same Python can dance in the middle belt to Adamawa right now! How I wish the show of military strength displayed on IPOB be replicated in the middle belt and Adamawa… If this trend continue, I bet in 10 years, the tor TiV will be a Fulani man!