By Ijanada Jantiku
If you have been living in Nigeria for a while, then insecurity; armed banditry, kidnapping, farmers/herders clashes etc, wouldn’t be new to you. Surprisingly the most widely spread insinuation making the rounds is that President Muhammadu Buhari is too relaxed and unbothered about the gradual rise in insecurity in the country. It goes further to alledge that he, being a Fulani, is pampering the herders with kid-gloves. However, what is hardly talked about is the efforts put in place by this government to curb all forms of criminality in the country.
While groups such as Afenifere, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Middle Belt Forum MBF), and Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) have called on President Buhari to act fast on the herders’ crisis to avert another civil war in the country, the National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin said that the President was maintaining ‘civil silence’ over the heinous crimes committed by killer herders, as the Presidency continues to act as the mouthpiece of the herdsmen.
Do these groups have the right to raise concerns about the safety of Nigerians? A capital YES, but painting a picture of the President as not being zealous about ending insecurity in the country and taking sides with herders is what is disagreeable.
President Muhammadu Buhari on several occasions has made his position on farmers/herders clash, and the recent killings in the country, vehemently clear. He has ordered that anybody bearing arms unlawfully must be arrested and prosecuted. This is regardless of tribe, religion or ethnicity.
In his words, “Whoever he is, wherever he comes from, criminality is criminality.”
He has as a matter of habit always condemned reported cases of ethnic violence in the country and vowed that his government will act decisively to stop the spread of any such violence; protect all religious and ethnic groups, whether majority or minority, in line with its responsibility under the constitution.
Without totally dismissing the activities of herders, it is also important to buttress the fact that crime knows no tribe, ethnic group or religion. There have been countless cases of heinous crimes committed by other tribes. It is unfair for a particular tribe to be stereotyped and blamed for every crime committed. The issue of insecurity cuts across all tribes and it’s not peculiar to any ethic group or religion. Often, we see Fulani who work hard to earn an honest living, others have risen to prominence through honest means. So we shouldn’t engage in ethnic profiling in the identification of criminals.
The President on his part is trying so hard to halt not just farmers/herders crisis but all forms of criminality as well. From 2015 to date, this government has been up and down in terms of securing the nation. Within this period, a total of 23 brand new aircraft have been acquired for the Nigerian Air force, the Army had taken delivery of high grade armoured tanks, artillery trucks, weapons and ammunition for light, medium and some heavy weapons. The Nigerian Navy is also in line to take delivery of two warships in 2021. With all these being purchased by the Federal Government, do we still say the government is relaxed? Infact Nigeria one of the few countries in the world to have these vehicles (armoured tanks and artillery trucks), which were built to carry a minimum of 12 armed personnel housed securely within. No past Nigerian government has done this much.
More recently, President Buhari yielded to the cry for a change in the security architecture of the country. The new service chiefs on assumption, conducted an operational visit to the North East and some operational areas in the Country to interact with troops and commanders in the field in the various theatres with the aim of coming up with new ways and means of tackling the security challenges. The Armed Forces are equally being reorganized to tackle the security challenges in the country effectively. Showing a promising start, I believe they will change things for the better in no time.
Afenifere and co who are quick to point accusing fingers should borrow a leaf from the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan who has called on the country and it’s leaders to unite, fight and defeat criminality, divisive and centrifugal sentiments and tendencies. State governors also have a role to play in the security of their States; they have a duty of building trust in the communities, information gathering and identification of criminal elements. Religious and traditional leaders across the country should also join hands with the Federal Government to ensure that communities in their domain are not disintegrated.
Citizens should also fall in line by imbibing the spirit of love, fellowship and peaceful coexistence. We should learn to tolerate each other and be our brothers’ keeper bearing in mind that our growth and development lie in peace and stability.
Less I forget, the media too has a critical role to play in all of this. As the Fourth Estate of the realm, their duties do not just lie on the borders of interrogating government activities, but also ensuring that the country does not fall apart as a result of thier manner of framing and reportage of sensitive Issues. Reportage should be ethical, objective, balanced and unbiased, not based on sentiments or emotions.
Nigeria is our country, our home. We have no other country to call our own. Instead of dumping the blame on the government, playing blame games and pointing accusing fingers we should lend a helping hand in any way we can, most especially in the area of providing timely and relevant information to our security agencies for prompt and effective actions. We all have a role to play, hence, we should all contribute our quota to bringing an end to this long, overdue issue of farmer/ herder clashes and other forms of criminality. This country is big enough to accommodate us all, let us join hands together to make Nigeria great.