Chapter 2, Section 14 subsection 2 a & b of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (As amended) says: (a) sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority;
(b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government…(emphasis ours)
Given that the wordings of the Constitution are sacrosanct and by which on May 29, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari swore to abide by, it becomes urgent to ponder what has become of that Oath of Office in the face of the obvious plunder, mindless carnage, gruesome murders and pillaging going on in the Benue Valley.
The people of Benue state today are being massacred in their homes while the federal government under President Buhari has maintained a shocking indifference to the orgy. Nothing best represents the beastly action of suspected Fulani herdsmen than the pictures from various communities in Loko and Guma local government areas.
The degree of violence are not just repulsive, but horrendous and very troubling. In the most primitive ways, women, children, the aged and youths are knifed, butchered and sometimes burnt to death in their homes by these mindless ‘foreign’ Fulani herdsmen.
The more shocking is the revelation by Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state that Buhari’s regime with its security agencies have abandoned the state to these marauding herdsmen.
In an interview with the Vanguard Newspapers, Ortom said: “Let me be frank. The Federal Government has not done enough. When this incidence started with the threat from the president and secretary of Miyetti Allah, Kauta Hore, who addressed a press conference and issued threats that they will do everything possible to frustrate the Benue State Government from implementing the anti-open grazing law, we quickly drew the attention of the Inspector General of Police, the Director General of the Department of State Services, DSS, and even the office of the National Security Adviser.
“The leadership of Miyetti Allah called the law names; that it was draconian and had no place in the 21st century. We saw that as a threat to our existence and in June 2016, we reported to the then acting president (Prof. Yemi Osinbajo) and to our surprise, these people were not apprehended.”
It is disheartening to note that a group of persons can wilfully and deliberately threaten a whole state and vow to disregard a law that was properly passed by a State House of Assembly, and the federal government does not feel compel to move its might against such intransigence.
It is granted that the attacks of herdsmen on farming communities in Benue state and across the Middle Belt did not start with Buhari’s regime, however, the increasing audacity and the obvious inertia of the federal government to identify evil by its name makes it more incredulous.
What President Buhari by his action has told the people of Benue state, Taraba, Southern Kaduna and the ethnic minorities of Adamawa and the Middle Belt, in particular, is that their lives do not matter, therefore, can be wasted away.
History is replete with lots of unpleasant prescient texts in Africa, Europe and the Middle East from which Nigeria can learn from on ethnic strife and their predictable outcomes especially when governments fail in their sacred duty to protect all. Yugoslavia and Rwanda are classic examples for Nigeria to try not to forget what happened in these countries when one group assumed superiority over the other while government looked the other way.
For Nigeria not to be the next House of Cards, the federal government should demonstrate in unmistaken terms that the lives of every Nigerian, Fulani or not matters, and move to tame the excesses of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria which is on record asked its members to disobey the anti-grazing Act of Benue state and have admitted to carrying ‘reprisals’ against communities it alleges have ‘stolen’ their cattle.
The law frowns at self-help, it is therefore curious that the Miyetti Allah is allowed to get away with such fundamental slap on the face of Nigeria’s laws.
Time is running fast and thick, therefore, President Buhari should wake up from his ethnic induced indolence and halt the decline to total anarchy by bringing to book all those responsible for the near-annihilation on the Benue Valley.
To neglect to tackle the already crying situation is evident that President Buhari is an ethnic and religious zealot who should not remain in power.