By ABBA MAHMOOD –
On May 29, 2015, while holding the Qur’an, General Muhammadu Buhari swore the oath of allegiance and oath of office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He swore before the whole world “to do good to all manner of people without fear or favour, affection or ill-will”. He also swore to defend the “territorial integrity, solidarity, wellbeing and the prosperity” of Nigeria and her people. As President, he is the commander-in-chief and there is no deputy C-in-C, which means he has sole responsibility for defence and security matters.
Three years down the line, it is obvious to every discerning person that President Buhari has failed in his primary responsibility which is protection of life and property of all who are within the Nigerian territory. The killings going on across Nigeria is simply beyond imagination and unacceptable. And it appears the Buhari administration has no answer or any solution to these killings. This is most unfortunate.
When there was breakdown of law and order in Plateau State during the Obasanjo administration, in the recent past for instance, President Obasanjo declared a state of emergency in that state, suspended the Dariye administration and appointed a sole administrator, General MC Alli, for six months during which normalcy returned. That was decisive action by a responsible government. And it showed sensitivity to the plight of the citizens who were at the receiving end of what was clearly a case of lack of good governance.
The Boko Haram menace has not been totally addressed and now we have bandits killing people and destroying communities across many states, with the government seemingly helpless. Government has not been able to understand, let alone explain and contain, what is happening. Government has not arrested, let alone prosecuted, any of those perpetrating this evil. In short, government has not held anyone responsible for the failure to adequately protect the life and property of the citizens, which is the raison d’etre of the government.
The other day, there was the excuse given that armed bandits and weapons from the collapsed Gaddafi regime of Libya are responsible. If that is the case, it means those appointed by Buhari have failed to secure and defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria such that foreigners can come with their arms and kill innocent citizens at will. This is a very serious matter. So why have they not been arrested up till now anyway?
Yet another narrative is that “Fulani” herdsmen are killing “indigenous” communities and taking all their land for grazing their cows. There are many questions begging for answers here. Who are those herdsmen? Who trained them to handle sophisticated weapons? And how come none of the security organs or the victim communities has arrested them? In any case, every community in Nigeria has leadership, so why can’t government go after the leaders to produce the perpetrators?
Many are also of the belief that the killings are politically motivated. Even the President said so. So why is the government not fishing out the politicians behind these killings and bringing them to book? How can politicians be playing with human lives and the government is doing nothing about it? It is said it is about 2019. So who are those playing politics with human lives and not being arrested and prosecuted by the government?
Yet another narrative is that Fulani “Muslims” are killing “minority” Christians, destroying churches and taking over their lands in a bid to continue a so-called “jihad” to Islamize Nigeria. In other words, it is like what happened in Darfur, Sudan, where Janjaweed militias were killing blacks to take over their land. And this is giving Islam a bad name. The Jews and Christians are known as the People of the Book in the Qur’an because they believe in the same God as Muslims and God’s revealed scriptures before the coming of Islam. Destroying their places of worship or attacking their life and property is forbidden. Anyone who believes in Islam cannot attack these places of worship or innocent people because it is forbidden. So these killers are attacking in the name of which religion then?
What comes out of all these is the fact that these killings are not motivated by religious or tribal considerations. That is why it is affecting relatively homogenous communities like in Zamfara State and Birnin Gwari, Kaduna State in the far north where they are Muslims as well as relatively heterogeneous communities like in Benue, Taraba and Kogi states. It is perpetrated by bad and evil elements who are not yet brought to book by the government. A combination of internal and external factors has combined to weaken and possibly dismember Nigeria by these killings and the government seems to be helpless about it.
President Buhari has the sole responsibility to fish them out and punish them; in other words the government needs to act now. Those in charge of security have failed the nation. They were all appointed by Buhari, so he has to take responsibility. He has to overhaul the entire security apparatus by removing those who have obviously failed the nation, appoint capable and competent ones to take charge and do a proper job of securing and safeguarding the lives and property of the people of Nigeria, and in doing so try to reflect the federal character as much as possible in these appointments.
President Buhari must remember that he cannot give any excuses and cannot blame anyone for what is happening in Nigeria. He is responsible and was elected primarily to protect and secure the country. That was the main reason he was elected by a majority of Nigerians in 2015. This will make or break his presidency and his legacy will be defined by it. Whether it is Nigerians or foreigners that are perpetrating these evil acts, he alone has the mandate, the right, the duty, the authority and indeed the responsibility to act to stop these senseless killings and he must act NOW before it is too late. These killings cannot be justified and is simply unacceptable.
History is on the side of the oppressed.