Thursday, 3 May 2018

HERDSMEN VIOLENCE: THE POLITICS OF SECURITY MANAGEMENT IN A FRAGILE STATE. BY MR. JONATHAN ISHAKU AT THE COLLOQUIUM ORGANIZED BY THE NUJ, PLATEAU STATE CHAPTER (UNEDITED)




HERDSMEN VIOLENCE: THE POLITICS OF SECURITY MANAGEMENT IN A FRAGILE STATE. BEING A PAPER PRESENTED BY MR. JONATHAN ISHAKU AT A COLLOQUIM ORGANISED BY THE NIGERIA UNION OF JOURNALISTS, PLATEAU STATE CHAPTER ON MAY 3RD 2018 AT LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE, JOS.

PROTOCOL
MR. JONATHAN DELIVERING
I have been asked to speak on any issue around the on-going Herdsmen Violence in Nigeria by organizers of this colloquium, through my esteemed Chairman of the state Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Mr. Paul Jatau, himself.  Although the topic is vast and complex I have no option than to accept it as such short notice; not only because I cannot refuse the request of my Chairman but I have a sense of obligation to the Union. 

Exactly 31 years ago when the then Federal Military Government harassed, intimidated, dismissed, recalled and finally dismissed me for doing my work as a journalist, it was the NUJ that stood by me. Since that time I have always felt a sense of gratitude and obligation to the union, only God knows what my fate would have been without the unflinching support I was given knowing how vicious the military regime could be. For avoidance of doubt, through the mercy of God Almighty, I have remained a practicing member of the journalism profession and  therefore a full member of the State NUJ.   So who am I to refuse any assignment given to me by the NUJ? 

MEMBERS OF THE HIGH TABLE AT THE OCCASION
Although I was given a free hand to choose any topic on the theme of the Fulani Herdsmen Violence, I nonetheless had great difficulty coming up with one because as I remarked earlier, this is a vast and complex phenomenon. But then, by sheer happenstance, I came across a news item in which a Harvard University professor gave a class assignment where Nigeria was used as an example of a failed state. This news item struck an uneasy chord in me: Has my country Nigeria, the giant of Africa, actually crossed the threshold into the unenviable company of fragile states like Somalia, Mali and South Sudan?
EXPERTS IN THE FIELD OF JOURNALISM, SECURITY AND CRISIS MANAGEMENT
I guess that if you live in foreign lands and all your information is derived from what you see on the NTA News feeds, you would even exclaimed, “Oh how preposterous!” Indeed, there is nothing to suggest from the exterior that anything is amiss with our dear country. In fact, if you are one of those Nigerians whose survival is tied to the wheeler- dealer life around posh government offices in Abuja and the state capitals (i.e., the legion of influence-peddlers, sycophants, hangers-on and burly thugs), you will simply be aghast with any suggestion that all is not well, that hunger stalks the nation. 
 

Watching the goings-on at Aso Villa and our National Assembly, there is nothing to suggest from our politicians’ body language that calamity stares the nation in the face with many of their constituencies on fire; there in Abuja, they are their old selves, suave, rose-cheeked and swashbuckling as ever. 

Since the return of President Muhammadu Buhari from a protracted foreign medical trip last year, the Presidency has resumed its vibrant old self; the bee-hive of activities. Foreign visitors, businessmen and diplomats, are received and feted with the usual aplomb and ceremony befitting of the giant of Africa. Even the richest man in the world couldn’t stomach the flamboyance of Abuja; a feted Bill Gates took an uneasy glance around the banquet hall and couldn’t help but blurt out his disgust about the brazen display of opulence in the midst of so much misery in the country. He said Nigeria’s development model which tended to neglect human development in favour of infrastructural development was faulty and wrong-headed.  

Apart from the wrong-headed direction of our economic development is headed. I would poor security governance. I fear that our security management is similarly wrong-headed. Certainly, things have gone dangerously terrible in our nation! And the evidence is piling up by the day! Our countryside has been turned into a veritable graveyard with body counts of the dead steadily rising every new day from attacks by armed herdsmen, highway robbers, kidnappers and sundry illicit non-state actors! The question on the mind of all progressive Nigerians is: Where is the Nigerian state in all these?

But in order not to trust my opinion too much on the matter, I decided to check out the definition of what a failed state ( or as its more fashionable these days, “fragile state”) is. These are few samples of what I found out:  
 

The European Union says: Fragility refers to weak or failing structures and to situations where the social contract is broken due to the state’s incapacity or unwillingness to deal with its basic functions, meets its obligations and responsibilities regarding service delivery, management of resources, rule of law, equitable access to power, security and safety of the populace and protection and promotion of citizens’ rights and freedoms.
 
 

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) defines it as: Fragile states refer to a broad range of failing, failed, and recovering states that are unable or unwilling to adequately assure the provision of security and basic services to significant portion of their populations and where the legitimacy of the governments is in question. USAID distinguishes between distinguishes between fragile states that are vulnerable from those that are already in crisis.

 I will however stick with the one offered by the think-tank, Country Indicators for Foreign Policy (CIFP); it says:
 

“Fragile states lack the functional authority to provide basic security within their borders, the institutional capacity to provide basic social needs for their populations, and/or the political legitimacy to effectively represent their citizens at home or abroad.”

As can be seen, these definitions made no allusion to the flamboyance of the nation’s political class nor the pomp and pageantry surrounding their activities in their well-lit and decorated banquet halls in Abuja and state government houses.  Rather they focus on the state’s ability to deliver on its core responsibilities of security, socio-economic goods, legitimacy and capacity. Therefore, the evident failure of the Nigerian State to guarantee basic security and safety to its citizens qualifies it to be termed a fragile or, indeed, failed state.
 

In term of insecurity alone, Nigeria today seethes with perhaps the worst levels of insecurity ever. In spite of assurances to the contrary Boko Haram continues to demonstrate strength in the North East region, Fulani herdsmen terrorism continues to spread throughout the country, kidnapping which before was associated with a part of the country is now nation-wide with siege laid on all highways linking to Abuja, making daily transit to the Federal Capital from all directions a daily nightmare, etc.

But establishing the fragility of the Nigerian state may not be the real gist of this Public Lecture. The real issue in this conversation is the “politics of security management.” 

How is this so?

In my opinion, one area the nation has been playing politics with national security management is the issue of Fulani herdsmen terrorism. 

Beginning from 2010 the nation woke up to the reality of a new emerging threat from what became known euphemistically as unknown gunmen terrorizing farming communities in the Middle Belt. In March that year they invaded Dogo Nahawa, a village in the suburb of Jos killing over 500 villagers; men, women and children. 
In the aftermath of the outrage, the Commissioner of Police in Plateau State, Mr. Ikechuckwu Aduba disclosed to journalists that nineteen suspects had been arrested over the incident. The Nation newspaper quoted him as saying: “They are Fulani.”   

And the politics of security management also started there; for calling the murderers Fulani, the COMPOL was immediately replaced and eventually retired.

The massacre, however, announced the arrival of the Fulani herdsmen terrorism into Nigeria’s vast ungoverned spaces. The orchestrated pattern of the bloody invasions since by the so-called Fulani gunmen was a departure from the old pastoralist-farmer clashes fought with sticks and swords in the past. The sophisticated weapons brandied by the gunmen, including AK-47 assault rifles (and eventually, rocket launchers and chemical weapon as witnessed in Benue State in 2014) as well at its military-like modus operandi immediately drew similarity to the notorious janjaweed in Sudan.
The Janjaweed refers to the armed group of nomadic Arab pastoralists, initially trained and supplied by the Libyan strongman Moumar Gaddafi, which similarly carried an ethnic cleansing on the black African population of the Darfur region of southwest Sudan for over two decades before the international community put an end to it in 2004 through the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1556. 

The Nigerian government’s response to the new threat was weak and, in no time, it spread like wildfire to engulf the entire Middle Belt region; Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba, Southern Kaduna and Adamawa States. Today, it has spread to southern states such as Enugu, Imo, Ekiti, Ondo, Edo, etc. 
General Sani Abacha was credited with the saying that if insurgency persists for more than twenty-four hours, government has a hand in it. Although I can neither establish the veracity of the alleged quotation nor the validity of the statement itself, the statement proved true in the case of the janjaweed in Sudan; international investigators from the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague and the UN Security Council were to uncover conclusive evidence that the marauding armed group was actually the Arabist government’s cats-paw. The genocide turned out to be part of the schema by the ruling power bloc in Sudan to perpetuate territorial, ethnic and religious conquest of the despised and marginalized African population of Darfur. In 2009, an international arrest warrant was issued against President Omar al-Bashir to answer charges of genocide and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court at The Hague. 
Similarly, the Nigerian government is presently battling allegations of complicity in the activities of Fulani herdsmen terrorism in Nigeria. Former Minister of Defense and Chief of Army Staff, retired General Theophilous  Y. Dajuma in March 2018 has similarly accused government troops of colluding with the armed bandits spreading violence in his state, Taraba, and other places in the Middle Belt. 

In his 1983 book titled “The Trouble with Nigeria,” the world acclaimed writer, Chinua Achebe, concluded that “The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership.” Three decade after Achebe's assertion, successive Nigerian civilian governments have been led by leaders exhibiting chronic leadership challenges; the immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan was described as “clueless” and the present President Buhari, who had predicated his campaigns on “Change,” has been dismissed as “lackluster.”  

While it is true that leadership challenges contribute to the national problematic, it would be misleading to completely ignore the contributory role of structural flaws within the neo-colonial state itself. This post-colonial state embodies inherent threats from its territorial space, population, government and sovereignty, making security governance perpetually vulnerable or fragile.  

These structural flaws are partly responsible for the recurrent eruption of ethno-religious violence within the polity which has now given rise to the emergence of various types of armed groups ranging from religious insurgents, resource-control militants, and ethnic militias and even orchestrated urban rioters. 

In my research work, I have consistently referred the herdsmen violence within the conceptual framework of a deeply divided society. True, factors like climate change, migratory pressures, global rise of religious fundamentalism, armed proliferation, etc, are key drivers in the violence but I think in Nigeria they all conflate under the framework of a deeply divided society.  

In Eric Nortlinger’s definition the term or phrase “divided society” can actually be applied interchangeably with ‘plural,’ ‘vertically segmented,’ and ‘communally divided” society  (Dryzek, 2005), but many scholars like to draw distinction between pluralistic societies and deeply divided societies. 

Guelke (2012) says, for example, that the most frequently occurring features of deeply divided societies are differentiated by divisions arising from “class, caste, religion, language, race, ethnicity and clan” which tend to weave competing binaries. These differences, which tend to span both the social and political realms, are responsible for creating such binaries as “settlers vs. indigenes”,  “us vs. them,” “northerners vs. southerners,” “Christians vs. Muslims,” “farmers vs. pastoralists” and other contrasting social-cum-political identities.

 On his part, Lustick asserts that in divided societies “unmalleable groups and conflict [are] deep rooted and existing for generations.”  Because the divisions perpetuates themselves in the politicized environment, Guelke says, the cultural memory of communities’ past  clashes help in sustaining differentiation “along class or communal lines or along both;” consequently, “conflict groups and organizations” arise. Political parties, alliances, or militia groups are usually formed along such lines. 

But social scientists generally believe conflicts to be endemic in all societies; there is hardly any society, deeply divided or not, pluralistic or not, without any form of conflict. Perhaps the difference between deeply divided societies and other vertically segmented societies lies in the intensity of identity mobilization along cleavages (Deutsch, 1953) which may lead to acute tension and conflicts. This is often the outcome of social relations involving threat elements. Crawford Young (1976) says:      

Detection of threats to the collectivity [of a cultural group] is a potent factor of cultural mobilization; anxieties and insecurities dictate solidarity responses. Moments of crisis engender acute anxieties and highly polarized perceptions…   

Such fears are expressed in symbols and stereotypes of the “we versus them” and as tension increases, Young says, “all parties to the crisis [begin to scan] the horizon for the dark clouds of cultural threats.”   

 Lederach (1997) asserts that deeply divided societies experience “armed conflict at one of the three levels.” 
  The three levels are: minor armed conflict, intermediate armed conflict, and war. Unfortunately, Nigeria has experienced all: internecine ethno-religious clashes, terrorist attacks (the herdsmen violent campaigns) and armed insurgencies (the Civil War and recently, Boko Haram’s quest for the establishment of a Caliphate). 

Against such background, the nexus between political leadership and conflict management in such societies is crucial.   

Lustick (1978) observes, for example, that the principal characteristics of deeply divided societies are derived from the approaches of political leaders and how their actions in turn influence societal perception and behavior. Young (1976) made a similar point when he emphasizes that the nature [and operation] of cultural pluralism differs “under different types of regimes, illustrating the significance of the character of the political arena as an independent variable.”  

This fact, according to him, accounts for the great variability in the interplay of centripetal and centrifugal forces within plural societies: it explains why most Latin American societies and some African countries like Julius Nyerere’s Tanzania and Leopold Senghor’s Senegal, in the past, and Sierra Leone presently, have been least susceptible to divisive ethno-cultural identities. 

Let me look briefly at the Sierra Leone example to illustrate this point. You will recall that only March this year, Sierra Leoneans went to the polls to elect the successor to President Ernest Bai Koroma who had completed his maximum 10 years tenure. In the contest which went into second round in April, Julius Madaa Bio of the opposition party (SLPP) emerged winner after beating Samura Kamara Wilson of the former ruling party (APC). The point I want to make is that both candidates are Christians. Sierra Leone, however, is about 76% Muslim; Christians constitute only about 21% of the population. 

From the above, not only has a Christian President succeeded another Christian President but that in the long history of Sierra Leone, most of its Presidents have been Christians in this majority Muslim country. This sounds strange to us in Nigeria; the same way we find it strange that the Mayor of London (and increasingly other English boroughs) is a Muslim, elected by majority Christians. 

But it may not be too outlandish as such, Nigeria started on that path of tolerance too; when ethno-religious factors were subordinated to nationalist ideas. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s NCNC in the early days, used to win elections in the Western Region until 1951when its elected members decided to switch loyalty to their Yoruba brother’s party, the AG led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo. This was the beginning of the political schism that divided southern Nigeria along ethnic lines.   

Similarly, it was at some stage at the sittings of the Northern House of Assembly that the spirit of Middle Belt consciousness was stirred. In the course of one of its deliberations in the newly inaugurated Northern House of Assembly one Mallam Bello Dandago, a private member from Kano, called upon the regional government to ban Christian missionaries from the North. This proposal did not only jolt the crop of emerging politicians from the non-Muslim areas but warned them of the imminent danger their continued existence within the Northern Region portended.
          
Since then, Nigeria’s politics is determined by a variety of primordial factors including religion, ethnicity, region, etc, simply because it suited the competing political elites to play them up for personal and aggregated interest.

In Nigeria, the leadership styles of post-military administration like that of President Olusegun Obasanjo, President Umaru Yar’adua, President Goodluck Jonathan, and, now, President Muhammadu Buhari, differ remarkably in their management of Nigeria’s cultural diversity, confirming Young’s assertion that different regimes give character to the political arena.

A regime that makes parochialism, such as ethno-religious, geo-political and kinship ties, the basis for the distribution of government’s patronage in terms of goods and service allocation (i.e., employment, empowerment programs, human and infrastructural development, social services, security, etc) is bound to accentuate the deep divisions in the political community. 

In this regards, I think, President Buhari started on a very wrong footing with his “97% versus5% ratio.”  In 2016 when asked by a reporter while on a visit to Washington DC to react to allegation that he was engaged in nepotism and discrimination against a part of Nigeria, he said that he was voted overwhelmingly (97%) by a part of the country while he merely garnered a meagerly 5% by another. By implication, or interpretation, it meant that his government would favour the northern part of the country, which had always rooted for him over others, especially the south east, which did not support him. Since then, the President has been questioned about whether he would rule in the overall interest of all Nigerians, or just a part of it. 

Guelke (2012) observes that conflicts existing along well-entrenched fault-lines such as religion and ethnicity are “recurrent and endemic” and that they hold “the potential for violence between the segments” of the divided society. Although, one may consider the President’s remark above as trite, for many others it reechoes centuries-old acrimony and conflicts. Some analysts have even attributed the President’s statement to the resurgence of separatist sentiments in Igboland as represented by the bombastic agitation of the Nnambi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Although President Jonathan own records in curbing the Fulani herdsmen’s attack was far from sterling, he was never, at any rate, given much credit for effective leadership. At most he was portrayed as a captive of powerful vested interests spanning economy, military and politics. At the height of the Boko Haram insurgency he cried out that his government had been infiltrated by the terrorists. 

The Dogo Na Hawa massacre took place under his watch raising concerns about his efficacy as the Commander-in-Chief. The conduct of the of the General Officer Commanding, 3rd Armoured Division, Jos, Major General Saleh Maina during the massacre left much to be desired: first, he explained that the army did know the location of the distress and, second, that the terrain was too rough. This drew the ire of the Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang who accused the high ranking officer of grievous dereliction of duty. 

The former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Domkat Bali, under the military government of President Ibrahim Babaginda, was unsparing in his assessment of Gen. Maina, the security boss in charge of the state at the time. ThisDay newspaper reported:

“Specifically, Bali pointed accusing fingers at Maina, who he said has taken sides in the crisis. He said his fear was that should the military be polarized along religious lines, it would be the end of Nigeria.”  

General Maina’s successors, including General Abdulrahaman Danbazzau, the present Minister of Interior, didn’t fare any better in demonstrating neutrality. The argument was that Jonathan had just succeeded President Umaru Yar’adua who had died in office and was being careful not to rock the boat. However, even after returning to power on a fresh mandate in 2011, he still appeared captive of some invisible mafia. Consequently, insecurity festered across the country, which was to be his political albatross. 

Muhammadu Buhari, the retired military General, came to power in 2015 on the promise of crushing all terrorists militarily. The abduction on April 14, 2014 of some 276 school girls at Government Secondary School, Chibok, had put President Goodluck Jonathan’s lackluster counterterrorism war into global focus and domestically galvanized support for General Buhari’s political manifesto to fight insecurity in the run up to the 2015 Presidential elections. Indeed, within one year of coming to power, President Buhari’s government announced with gusto that it had “technically defeated” the terrorist organization.

On Fulani herdsmen terrorism, there was no word from the government in spite of its equally devastating activities. Since no one can accuse Buhari of lacking in military skills to stem the herdsmen terrorism as he did Boko Haram, he is simply accused of siding with his Fulani kith and kin. 

As van Veen (2016) said, in fragile states the ordinary people count very low in the matrix of security governance, it is the interest of the ruling elite that is paramount. He said, “Whether it is the slums of Nairobi, the port of Karachi, or the corridors of power in Bajumbura, in many fragile societies state security organizations serve the interest of the ruling elites in maintaining political power or their own institutional interests…This depressing situation is the result of a complex mix of factors including legacies of violence, underdeveloped institutions, personalized rule, profit-making opportunities in settings of low growth, and high inequality, as well as high levels of political factionalism.” 

This pretty sums up the security situation in Nigeria today; the tragic combination of state fragility and a highly politicized political society. 

Against this backdrop conspiracy theorists have gone to town with various interpretations of the situation. The common version, in these climes, says President Buhari is seriously promoting the continuation of the 1804 Fulani jihad of Othman dan Fodio through the overt and covert use of state agencies. But this is hardly a new charge; long before he came to power Buhari had been accused of nurturing an agenda of Islamic conquest. In September 2014, in the run up to the 2015 presidential elections, the ruling PDP through its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, had called Buhari’s APC a “janjaweed party” that would usher in the Islamization of Nigeria. 

He said, “For avoidance of doubt, we wish to restate that we stand by our statement that the APC as a party with a janjaweed ideology has been promoting insurgency and acts of terrorism through the actions and utterances of its leaders.” 

But how does this explain the President’s determination to crush the Islamic insurgency by Boko Haram. The counter-argument is that Boko Haram, made up majorly of Kanuri, was a threat to the continuing influence of the Fulani caliphate in Sokoto, so President Buhari, a Fulani, is equally eager to defeat it but not to wage war on fellow Fulanis. Thus, the killer Fulani herdsmen are all left well alone. Like all conspiracy theories, this is tendentious, unfounded and of no academic value. However, it illustrates Crawford Young’s point that under highly polarized environment, members of cultural communities continually scan the horizon for signs of threats, and as Guelk puts it, the best way they comprehend these threats is by association with similar historical experiences. This way, cleavages are sustained at the expense of nation-building!  

The truth is that government’s handling of the herdsmen terrorism is fueling the notion that politics is largely at play in security management as the following examples suggest. 

Consider the following:


President Buhari, appeared in person, and, in military uniform too, following incessant report of bandit activities in the North West geopolitical zone, in Zamfara State to launch a military campaign against the criminal activities. The President is yet to visit any scene of Fulani attacks or launch military operation against them elsewhere. Rather, as we witnessed earlier this year, it is victim communities that were still obligated to visit the President in Aso Villa to brief him on on-going atrocities of the herdsmen.  They say the President is the embodiment of “body language;” this can also be garnered from the quick visitation of ranking Ministers and superior government officials  when victims are Fulani as was witnessed in Mambilla in Taraba State and Numan in Adamawa State. 

Apart from body language, another difference is also reflected in the counterterrorism approach of the Federal Government. Following an attack on some communities in Zamfara State in November 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered a military crackdown against the bandits and, as a long-term measure, approved the immediate establishment of a “full battalion of Special Forces” under the 8 Division of the Nigerian Army in Zamfara State.  However, following similar renewed hostilities by well-armed herdsmen in Benue State at the beginning of the 2018, in which 73 people were killed, the President only gave the police Inspector General marching orders to contain the menace. 

   Even purely military operations are inked in politics. Special operations in the military normally depend on elements of precision and surprise but not in the “war” against the herdsmen terrorists. In 2012, after incessant attacks in the Gashish area of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, which led to the death of a sitting Senator, Dr. Gyang Dantong and Hon. Gyang Fulani, of the State House of Assembly, the special military task force (STF) in Plateau State decided to carry out a special op. However, the STF blunted the efficacy of the exercise by first issuing an ultimatum to residents to temporary quit the area within two weeks as if the armed bandits would still be waiting for them thereafter. Of course it was a colossal failure.  But the military didn’t appear to have abandoned the politically tainted strategy; in 2018, the military once again put together a similar operation code-named Ayem Akpatuma, a 44-day military exercise aimed at curtailing the spreading activities of armed bandits in four states of the Middle Belt and Zamfara State. The exercise was preceded by a a public notice issued well ahead of time. Again it was a huge failure; it led to the arrest of members of victim communities (accused of possessing self-defense weapons like knives, bows and arrows, spears, etc) rather than the marauding bandits with their sophisticated AK-47 weaponry.   

   Yet another example of politicization are the lingering allegations of military complicity in the violence. This has been a subject of widespread allegation in various arenas of conflict around the Middle Belt. For example, in Heipang, women battled soldier, with loss of lives, protesting the presence of a roadblock in the town having accused them of complicity with the herdsmen terrorists. In Taraba State residents have persistently raised allegations of aerial dropping of supplies to terrorists without a concerted effort by the military authorities to investigate beyond knee-jerk denials. Only last December, the military was accused of bombing houses during the attack in some towns of  Numan, Demsa and Lamurde; although the Nigerian Air force explained that it was targeting the invaders, it curiously did not say how build-up structures could be domicile for “invaders.”     In the end, the allegations of complicity were forcefully reiterated by General Theophilus Y. Danjuma, a former Chief of Army Staff and Minister of Defense, a persona with an encyclopedic knowledge of the Nigerian security architecture over years.   

   The latest evidence of politics in our security management was last week’s announcement by the Nigerian Army that it had arrested 96 suspected herdsmen terrorists around Abuja. As pleasant as the news sounded, the question is: How was it only on the eve of President Buhari departure for a state visit to the United States, and a few days after the murder of two Catholic priests in Benue State by the killer herdsmen while the Conference of Bishops of Nigeria was on a visit to the Vatican, did the Army suddenly spring to action? It is curious that what Army couldn’t achieve during its 44-day Exercise Ayem Akpatuma,  it suddenly did within the vicinity of its Headquarters in Abuja and at such auspicious time too!     

The truth is that there is more that meet the eye in Nigeria’s counter-terrorism campaign. And, for a deeply divided society like ours, the politicization of the campaign is an invitation to anarchy. People in victim communities are fast running out of options for survival; if the Government continues to dilly-dally, self help will be inevitable. And it will not be because they are unpatriotic, or religiously bigoted or xenophobic, it will be because the Government has failed to lift itself above ethno-religious and geo-political trappings to deliver on its responsibility; to provide welfare and security of life and property to all Nigerians equally. 

 The challenges of statecraft in a heterogeneous society are an ever present task on leadership but many successful nations have been able to change their disadvantages into advantages through transformational leaders. But then these are leaders who have risen above politics to play the role of statesmanship as nation-builders.

Tragically, in Nigeria, appears to be failing principally because our leaders are powerless against the pull of primordial sentiments.  Rather than build the nation they are helpless hostage to the diktat of a rapacious clique of old vestiges of power-hungry undemocratic elements with ill-concealed imperial ambition to supplant our secular constitutionalism. Unless we defeat this enemy of our democracy, the threat to our national survival will continue to hang as the sword of Damocles over us. 

Next time, it may take less than the killings of a few villagers or the murder of priests by the Fulani herdsmen to set the ultimate fire that will totally consume this nation!  

Thank you for listening.



Mr. Ishaku is a journalist, writer, independent researcher and university teacher. He can be contacted on jishaku2@yahoo.co.uk.

No comments:

Post a Comment