By Adetunji Ayobrown
Terrorism and banditry are time bombs capable of ending the over 60 years of Nigeria’s existence. No explanation is good enough where some people under the pretence of cattle rearing engaged in crimes and criminality, killing and maiming innocent people and plundering farmlands and the likes.
Buhari’s silence around this sounds louder than usual and when he choose to talk, he preferred nepotism.
As it is, Nigerian nation has no friend in the Aso Rock. Neither President Muhammadu Buhari nor many of his aides seem to know the meaning of forest reserves. By our law, Nigeria Governors have the constitutional rights to give quit notice to illegal occupiers in the forest reserves. Perhaps the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), who is also the minister of Justice should advise his employer to make him understand the implication but many doubt if the minister can do such in this situation.
More than ever before, many people now understood aspects and manoeuvres involved in this game called banditry and kidnapping. Buhari’s Government only hears what it preferred to, he chose to hear only what benefits him. So it was not surprising when Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state made an unambiguous statement and very loud and clear that herders should vacate the forest reserves used by bandits and kidnappers in the state. However, despite the daily increase in killing, arson and numbers of kidnappings in many parts of the country, our President Buhari aligned
with his anointed Fulani men against the rest of the country.
Every Nigerian supports the safety of anybody living in any part of country but the Federal Government needs to explain to Nigerians its support for terrorism. While killing and maiming of innocent people on our roads and massacre of innocent farmers on their farmlands continued unabated, Buhari is systematically and openly giving support for the fingered perpetrators.
Though, claimed to be different but they are undoubtedly related. Despite overwhelming evidences that the criminals among the herdsmen have caused untold hardships in many towns and cities in recent time there seems to be government nonchalance. Only an irresponsible government would want to behave like our Federal Government that has continued to fold its arms and without disguise supporting the criminals in their criminality.
When Governor, Akeredolu ordered herdsmen to leave the state’s forest reserves within seven days, little did many know that the herdsmen are above the law under Buhari’s government. Ondo state like many other states in the federation had to tackle the Presidency, as Aso Villa continued in defence of the unscrupulous Fulani herdsmen.
The daring president Buhari shows no pretence and seems to be representing only the Fulanis. While many considered this as unimaginable and questionable, a lot more condemned the President’s statement through the President’s Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, faulting the governor, as if the state’s helmsman acted outside the constitutional powers as enshrined in 1999 Constitution as amended.
Yes, it is true all Nigerians are free to live in any part of the country in as much as they live in peace with the people without engaging in violence or constituting threat to the survival and wellbeing of other Nigerians. Perhaps, the FG do not understand this but seem to be supporting acts if terrorism being unleashed by bandits in many parts of the country on innocent citizens.
In an unimaginable response, the Northern Elders’ Forum directed the Fulani herdsmen to disregard the notice to quit the forest reserves in the state and continue to encourage the perpetrator of those nefarious activities. The point is why are such nefarious activities seen as normal by Northern Elders Forum? Worrisome and disturbing, herdsmen are seen as bush/forest evils. How fast, far and quickly such perceptions will change seems not bothered Buhari or his government.
Where is safe in Nigeria? The Presidency turned deaf ears to the many calls of the people and governors of not only the South-West states for protection from these herders in the last five years but also from states from other regions. The stance of the President on the Ondo State Government’s ultimatum to herdsmen in the state’s forest reserves is highly condemnable.
FG’s many theories, but few facts. Who did not know that herders are Fulani, without any issue of ethnicity? Criminality is being given space by this government. The Federal Government under Buhari’s leadership has totally ignored various governors’ alarms on the herdsmen’s attacks. The presidency has ignored its duties and relevance hitherto, but now ought to rise to the occasion and do the needful by calling security agencies to act and enforce orders issued by the lawful authority in those states.
If those living in the forest are committing crimes and federal government is seen by all to be the protector of those that are behind these crimes. Nigeria is a free state but not without laws. Living in any part of the country must be in peace with the people without any form of violence or threat to the survival and wellbeing of others. It is never confusing, it is a clear message, Ondo State Government never asked herdsmen to leave the state or its forests, but the forest reserves, which had been known to be the hideouts of kidnappers.
If not quickly nib in the bud, power of Buhari’s example in handling of this menace is capable of ending our nascent democracy. Instead of rule of law, Buhari choose to act against rules-based constitutional order preferring his regional and self-based orders.
A Governor as the chief security officer of the state has the law on its side to issue such ultimatum. After all, the Nigerian constitution enshrined that a state governor has the power to order those occupying the forest reserve to come to the open, go for registration or vacate the place. But for reasons best known for it, the Presidency chose to misrepresent or misunderstand the governor’s message.
On several occasions, many people including state governors had accused Buhari of openly supporting impudent crimes of his kinsmen by disrupting the constitutional duties of state helmsmen. But why these? Many had concluded that such is strange and abnormal in our polity, except from ‘man of yesterday’ voted for but openly supporting detriment of entire nation.
Posterity had declared that Buhari regime has shown no pretence as representing the Fulani interests above other tribes in the country, but let that be for the records. Banditry and kidnapping, never stop profiting and live by the callousness, recklessness and excessiveness of herdsmen, that seems to be the Buhari’s way.
*Ayobrown, Senior System Analyst, National Pilot Newspaper, writes via email@example.com
By Adetunji Ayobrown