In July 2012, clashes between natives and herdsmen reached a head in Plateau state leading to tens of deaths on both sides. Then President Jonathan, when briefed about the situation insisted that there wouldn’t be such impunity under his leadership and immediately ordered the army to go to the affected communities and fish out the perpetrators and bring them to book.
The military immediately obeyed the then president’s orders and sent troops to Barkin Ladi Local Government Area. They ordered all residents to leave their residence for temporary accommodation provided for them so they could conduct a joint air and ground operation to flush out the armed herdsmen who had been suspected of killing innocent Nigerians. The residents complied and the soldiers went in and not only did they clear the area, they made arrests which led to trials.
That is how a commander-in-chief acts. When your people are being slaughtered you don’t send them commiserations, like the frequent commiserations President Muhammadu Buhari has been sending to the people of Benue State. No. You assert yourself as the leader by using the nation’s symbols of strength to quash any threat to the national security of the nation.
That is what Jonathan did in Plateau state in July 2012. So effectively was Jonathan’s orders carried out that Malam Nasir El-Rufai tweeted his now infamous tweet on the 15th of July 2012 threatening that “We will write this for all to read. Anyone, soldier or not that kills the Fulani takes a loan repayable one day no matter how long it takes.” (his exact words).
So when he was elected governor and we began to hear him say that he had paid public monies to herdsmen to prevent further killings (there was actually a spike in killings), and that he as a governor was of the same ethnicity as these herdsmen, I was not at all taken aback as others were. The man had publicly signified his intentions long before he became governor.
But the point I am trying to make is that former President Jonathan, who was called weak by the All Progressive Congress, did something to end the menace of herdsmen killings, but President Buhari who is called “strong” by his supporters, has refused to do anything.
And so today, when I read about the killings perpetuated by herdsmen in Benue, Plateau, Kaduna, Adamawa, Taraba and other parts of Nigeria, I really feel for our citizens who have to go through these ordeals of impunity. No arrests are made, no forms of deterrence whatsoever is carried about by the Buhari administration.
I heard that the Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, wept when he saw corpses of his citizens massacred by herdsmen. It might sound harsh, but can Ortom recall that only last month he smiled as he told Nigerians that President Buhari deserves a second term?
My question to Ortom is this: If President Buhari gets a second term, would there be human beings left alive in Benue?
It is a fact that herdsmen belong to the same wider ethnic nationality as President Muhammadu Buhari, although most killer herdsmen are not mainstream Fulani, but rather fringe Fulani of the Wodaabe (also known as the Mbororo or Bororo) subgroup of the Fula people.
It is also a fact that President Muhammadu Buhari was the grand patron of the umbrella union of herdsmen in Nigeria known as Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria.
From that vantage point, he had in the past angrily and malevolently confronted state governors in states were herdsmen had received the wrong end of the stick in their acts of marauding.
As a matter of fact, on October 13, 2000, Muhammadu Buhari, in his capacity as the Grand Patron of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, demanded for and got a meeting with the then Governor of Oyo state, Lam Adesina, were he angrily said the words below to Governor Adesina:
“Your Excellency, our visit here is to discuss with you and your government our displeasure about the incident of clashes between two peoples… the Fulani cattle rearers and merchants are today being harassed , attacked and killed in Saki. That some arrests were made by Oyo State Police Command in the massacre with their immediate release without court trial. This was said to have been ordered by Oyo State authorities and they were so released to their amazement. The release of the arrested suspects gave the clear impression that the authorities are backing and protecting them to continue the unjust and illegal killings of Fulani cattle rearers…”
Muhammadu Buhari then ended his speech by demanding for an “immediate stoppage of the killings, justice and compensation to the Fulanis.”
After listening to Muhammadu Buhari, Lam Adesina asked the then Commissioner of Police for Oyo state to respond to his angry visitor and the Commissioner responded thus:
“The killing of the natives by the Fulanis was duly reported to the police and, of course, we can’t make arrest because, as soon as they kill, they migrate to other areas. Who are you going to arrest? That is the problem”. On the killing of Fulanis, which he said was as result of “piled up anger”, the commissioner disclosed that arrests had been made and the suspects were in police custody.”
When the Commissioner was done, Governor Adesina responded to Buhari thus:
“I want to say also that we really have to appeal to our people, the itinerant Bororo people, that they should observe less aggression. It is not good , it is not right just coming from somewhere then you just pass through farm lands cultivated may be with the person’s life savings and then over night everything is gone. That is not right, even Allah does not approve of that. We even wonder when they talk about this people carrying dangerous weapons, I say do they really believe in Allah? When you just take life like that and go away! Are we not forbidden not to take human life? So I think General Buhari, General Marwa, you have to be educating them. It is my pleasure to inform you that at the Presidential Lodge, we have made some arrangements for refreshments so that before you go we can refresh together”.
That meeting of October 13, 2000, was recorded and the quotes above are from Agbaakin Kehinde Olaosebikan, then Chief Press Secretary to late Governor Lam Adesina of Oyo state.
Now imagine the level of concern and care that President Muhammadu Buhari showed for his kinsmen in in October 2000, that he went to challenge a sitting Governor to a pissing contest when herdsmen were killed in reprisal killings. Why hasn’t Muhammadu Buhari shown that level of concern for Nigerians killed by herdsmen?
Now that same man is our President and Commander-in-Chief, and herdsmen killings have exploded exponentially under his watch to the extent that the United States Congress declared Nigeria as the most dangerous place to be a Christian in the entire world bar none, principally because of the killings by herdsmen.
Can it be a coincidence that herdsmen killings has multiplied just as soon as their immediate past Grand Patron became President?
Where is the anger that Buhari displayed to Governor Lam Adesina now that Fulanis are killing Nigerians?
How many people were killed in the Southeast before President Buhari ordered Operation Python Dance? Now ask yourself how many thousands have died at the hands of herdsmen in Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, Taraba and Adamawa? The answer proves we are not all equal in Buhari’s Nigeria.
That is why I laughed when Governor Ortom said “I have reiterated my call on the Federal Government to arrest the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore”. Why is Governor Ortom talking like a child? Can a Mafia godfather order the arrest of a mafioso to please a non mafia member? You are asking their Grand Patron to arrest the people who made him Grand Patron!
Apparently, Governor Ortom does not know his friends from his enemies.
• Omokri, a former aide of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, writes from California