It’s time to stop the bloodletting in Nigeria, writes Sonnie Ekwowusi

Amid the collapse of state machinery for protection of lives and property, anarchy has been let loose upon Nigeria. The Hobbesian bellum omnium contra omnes (war of all against all) characterized by bloodlettings, communal bloody feud, abductions, banditry and so forth, now reign supreme in Nigeria. No day passes without the AK-47-wielding Fulani herdsmen murderers, bandits, gunmen, kidnappers, arsonists, hoodlums, and rapists, freely sacking communities or abducting or killing or injuring scores of men and women in different communities especially in North-Eastern Nigeria. Last week, about 317 female students of Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Zamfara State were abducted by unknown gunmen. It was the third mass kidnapping of students in three months in an escalating wave of rural banditry attacks in the area. Yesterday, 279 of the girls, which the government said were the actual numbers of students abducted, had regained their freedom. On February 17 2021, 27 students and some staffers of Kagara Government Science College, Niger State were abducted by gunmen. Happily, the abducted students had regained their freedom.

Last week as well, there was tension at Upper Iweka in Onitsha, Anambra State. The tension had arisen from the arrest of two suspected Fulani herdsmen who were carrying dangerous weapons. The two gunmen allegedly came to Abuja luxurious-bus Park, Onitsha to board a bus going to the northern part of the country when they were apprehended by traders and park attendants. The heroic traders and park attendants un-wrapped their respective bags only to find guns and daggers hidden in them. Had the two men successfully boarded the luxurious bus they would have used the guns and daggers in their possession to kill or injure the bus occupants or even kidnap them and drag them to their hideout inside the thick forest. On January 22, the Nigerian soldiers invaded Orlu under the guise of searching for Nnamdi Kanu’s Eastern Security Network (ESN) operatives who allegedly had been attacking the Orlu civilians. But in the process, eight buildings were burnt and one person was killed in the ensuing gun battles. Three days later, the State Security forces re-invaded the area and fought with the ESN at the end of which at least five civilians and four soldiers were killed.

Recently the Niger Delta militants issued a threat that they would attack Abuja and Lagos respectively in March over the alleged neglect of Niger Delta. Meanwhile killer Fulani herdsmen have continued to run amuck killing, maiming and raping their victims in Rivers, Oyo, Ogun, Ekiti, Anambra, Ebonyi, Imo, Abia, Edo and virtually all the states in Southern Nigeria. If you think this is an exaggeration, just goggle “Fulani herdsmen attacks” and you would be shocked by the statistics that would pop up. The saddest aspect is that whereas the federal government is quick to declare IPOB a terrorist organization and round up IPOB members and throw them into seemingly everlasting imprisonment, the same federal government has allowed the Fulani herdsmen murders to be freely going about killing, maiming and assaulting their victims and even confiscating their lands. The man in Aso Villa does not see anything wrong with Fulani herdsmen committing heinous crimes in the land and getting away with them. Ditto for prominent Islamic cleric Sheik Gumi. He defends Fulani herdsmen killers. He rationalizes their carrying arms such as AK-47. In the same vein, to Bauchi State Governor Senator Bala Mohammed, killer Fulani herdsmen have a right to carry AK-47 and freely operate in any part of Nigeria.

You can see why chaos had been let loose upon Nigeria. Gun running. Social cohesion is unglued. Man eats man. Lawlessness writ large. Confusion extravaganza. Drumbeats of war and secession threats and counter-threats resonate and pervade the atmosphere. Our country is travelling down the worst road to the precipice since her independence. Can our living condition be any worse? Can it be more mean and abject? It has never been this bad. It is obvious that the man in Aso Villa is not in charge. It is obvious that he does not care a hoot about the hell that is being let loose in Nigeria at the moment. All that he seems to care about at the moment is the timely completion of the $1.959 billion Kano to Maradi (Niger Republic) rail line project. Mark you, there is no rail line from Niger Delta (which produces oil, the county’s only source of wealth) to, say, Abuja. No rail line from Lagos, a veritable commercial hub, to, say, Onitsha. No rail line from Sokoto to Lagos. No rail line from the Enyimba city of Aba to Lagos. But there will soon be a rail line from Kano to Niger Republic. How can a government squander a gargantuan borrowed sum of $1.959 billion on a white elephant project at the expense of fixing the country’s educational system and primary health care system which had since collapsed?

The deduction from the above is that our enemies are those of our household. In the last six years we have been experiencing a kakistocracy-a forging of a bolt for our own national destruction collecting and augmenting the fuel that is now threatening to wrap up the country in its malignant and furious flames. In the last six years we have sown the wind and now reaping whirlwinds. In the last six years we have been planting tyrants and now harvesting chaos and anarchy. In the last six years they have been vilifying and persecuting the oppressed. Yet this is my country. I call it my country and they admit it, but they deprive me of my rights and entitlements. They want me to love my country; they want me to dream of no country except my country but they deny me my sense of belonging. They want me to sing the National Anthem and recite the National Pledge with pride and gusto. But how can I love a country that derives joy in spilling the blood of her innocent citizens? Love is reciprocal. Love is blind. How can I love a country that does not love me? How can I love a country in which millions of my fellow-creatures groan beneath the iron rod of the worst despotism that could be devised?

Wearing of masks is compulsory. So we wear masks. But those are the masks covering the grins and lies. With torn and bleeding hearts we may be smiling but we may not know peace until the blood of the murdered innocent citizens of Nigeria is avenged. What do pathological murderers gain by spilling the blood of innocent citizens? Nothing! What do the living gain by keeping quiet in times of great moral crises? Absolutely nothing !! My fellow countrymen and women, silence is no longer golden. Speak up. Act now. Now is the time to put a stop to the bloodletting in Nigeria.