Nze Sylva’s Corner: We’ve had enough condemnations, it’s Time to Tackle Criminal Herdsmen
The way things are going, one cannot help but note that when the history of this government is written, it would be one blemished with violence and bloodshed. This is not a prophesy. It is a statement of fact, what with the ongoing killings and destructions associated with the Fulani herdsmen and local farming communities that has continued unabated.
Even though every other day there is new news report and statistics of unnamed victims thrown at us, like all things with us, we have since grown numb to these news stories. Fresh or reprisal attacks by herdsmen on farming communities do not hold the same attention in the news and in public discourse as they once did. Much the same way we all grew use to boko haram attacks that in February 2014 fifty-nine boys were killed at the Federal Government College of Buni Yadi and the nation moved on like nothing had happened. We are seeing this happening again. Herdsmen killings are increasingly taking the back seat in our national consciousness. We are gradually resigning to having it as one of those things we have to live with…like corruption, power outages, annual Lassa fever and meningitis outbreaks and the super eagles not qualifying for major tournaments.
The ease with which we move on is an issue that deserves deeper study. Perhaps it is the most apparent evidence of a deep rooted cynicism, the expression of a people who have been disappointed for so long by their leaders that they have resigned to surviving on their own and in the process have deadened their conscience to any issues that affects anyone other than themselves. So when the victim of the current pain is not directly them, they make a little noise just to fulfil all righteousness and then move back to the rate race that is their private lives. Like I said, this is a matter than requires a deeper study.
The subject of this intervention is however the failure of those whose sworn duty it is to stop the killings to do so. It appears that the Nigerian state has thrown her hands up in a show of helplessness as concerns this issue. Over and over what we get is condemnations from Aso Rock of a new episode of mindless killings so much so it appears the media aides to the president simply edit the location of the incidence and the date and issue it. Reminds one of the days when the boko haram attacks was at its peak. These statements are deeply frustrating to say the least and inspire no confidence whatsoever in the citizenry. What is more, despite the ever present promise of ‘leaving no stone unturned’ in bringing perpetrators to book, hardly anyone has really been sent to jail for this nor those behind the scenes writing the cheques that funds the madness.
Condemnations do not stop the killings and does not replace lives lost but ought to carry with them, a reassurance to the citizenry that justice will be done or that everything will be done to prevent future occurrence. Both of these are conspicuously absent around here. There is a reoccurring phenomenon of lone wolf terror attacks in the US. So far away from the center of this challenge you can’t help but feel that the American government and people are serious about protecting their people absent such attacks and are daily strengthening their ability to gather the right intelligence and put in the necessary homeland security policies to handle this, even making it part of their foreign policy agenda.
Here, however, there does not appear to be a clear cut long term strategy for combating the herdsmen challenge. Some initial conversations where held around ranching and defining grazing routes. Then all went silent. The police does not seem capable of anticipating these attacks and preventing them. The militia appear even more well-armed than the police anyway. A few governors decided to step in, one famously paying the herdsmen with state funds to discourage attacks, a strategy that has clearly failed. The minister of interior has hardly been quoted giving any policy direction on the matter. The army overburdened on many fronts with internal security matters is not measuring up. It just appears like everything is on a free fall.
But the history books will not forget and we will not allow the narrative to be skewed otherwise. The actors in the government must wake up to their responsibility. Something has to be done. We cannot continue to look the other way while our people are being killed in droves in what is now looking like a pogrom. The death of our compatriots should not become normal news. It is a tragedy that we have let things degenerate to this.