Thursday, 11 January 2018

As The Benue Heroes Go Home Today By Israel Ugochukwu Usulor

On the 1st and 2nd of this month, marauders strongly believed to be Fulani Herdsmen invaded several villages in Guma and Logo Local Governments of Benue state and wrecked havoc. By the time the dust settled, over 70 Tiv farmers lay dead and close to 80,000 displaced from their ancestral place of abode. Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN), registered in 1986 as the umbrella body for Fulani herders, has issued statements suggestive of the fact that they were fully aware of the attacks. As the attackers still roam the streets free, the dead were interred today in a mass grave in Makurdi.
Truly, Nigeria is a tragedy! If Nigeria were to be a drama piece, it would have been more tragic than Romeo and Juliet, that great love story penned by William Shakespeare. But sadly, Nigeria is not a love story, it’s a hate story. The forced romance among the various ethnic groups in the country has proven more tragic than tragedy. Of course, no one must blame those who think the best way to end this tragic story is for us to disintegrate and go our separate ways. Why blame them? What is in Nigeria for us? Is it not death and endless death? A country where marauders invade and sack communities at will, where life is in the Hobesian state, and where you sleep without the assurance of waking up with your body intact? No sane person stays in a place where death perpetually lurks around the corner.

Some of us who are firm believers in the Nigerian project are beginning to run out of good points with which to defend our belief in the system. Daily, friends who have since given up on the system confront me with irrefutable evidence and facts to prove that Nigeria is a sinking ship. Yet, I refuse to bulge, believing that Nigeria go better. On account of this, I have lost friends and made enemies.

The events in Benue on the 1st and 2nd of this month are tragic enough to darken even a snow-white heart. Death is death, but people still care about the way they die. No one wants to be butchered like a cow or set ablaze in a building surrounded by Fulani militia.

But, this is what happened and is still happening in Benue state and other parts of the Benue Valley. The manner in which these Tiv farmers were killed only proves that these herdsmen are driven by a blood-thirsty spirit.

The most tragic aspect of course, is the fact that a certain group called Miyetti Allah has come out in the open to acknowledge its prior knowledge of that horrible event, and have also gone ahead to give reasons why its members turned themselves into human butchers; but the Police won’t touch them! Why should Garus Gololo and his comrades not be in Kiri-Kiri right now? Why should Miyetti Allah be treated with kiddies gloves and Shi’ites and IPOB demonised? Let there be equal justice!

A peep into recent history has shown that the problem of Fulani Herdsmen attacking farmers is a serious issue, which has simply refused to go! Successive administrations have failed to stop the crisis. The boldness they have acquired under the Buhari administration has made many Nigerians to believe that they have the full backing of the President. While this narration may have some substance, the greater truth is that Fulani crisis predates Buhari and may well continue after him if no serious policy and security action is put in place to stop them.

The Buhari administration must rise to the occasion and stop behaving as if its hands are tied. The President must galvanize the security apparatchik to do their job. They should act! No group must hold the country to ransom and go scot-free. The Nigerian state under President Buhari must rise and assert itself.

The government must also put policies in place to permanently bring this problem to an end. Sadly, the Ministry of Agriculture which ought to find solution to this crisis, is occupied by Audu Ogbe who have been making motion without movement since his appointment in 2015. Tragic!

The Ant-grazing laws being enacted by the various states must be enforced and more enacted. The Federal Government must support these laws and even enact its own! The Fulani Herders must come to terms with civilisation and adjust accordingly and stop roaming around with cows. This is no longer sustainable especially as it is costing us human lives.

I must commend Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state for his fence-mending efforts and the stout manner he has defended the interest of his people. Benue people too must be commended for their united action against this evil. To my admiration, the incident was not politicised, and even those who tried to inject politics into it were shouted down. This is what it should be! We must learn to eschew politics when it comes to human life and the security of the people.

My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who lost loved ones in the attack. May the good Lord grant your soul eternal rest. Amen!

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