By Emeka Alex Duru
(08054103327, [email protected])
You may need to understand the crisis in Somalia to be able to appreciate what lies ahead for Nigeria if its leaders continue to fail in their responsibilities. Somalia, situated in the Horn of Africa, is a country that ordinarily has everything going for it but has failed to utilise any of the factors that should have worked in its favour. It is a country of one religion, one language and a common ancestry. But because it lacks the political will and visionary leadership, Somalia has remained a reference point for state failure. It has in fact, slipped to a collapsed state, where law and order are on flight and the citizens live at the mercy of war lords.
Those that lament on Nigeria toeing that path, know what they are saying. President Muhammadu Buhari was, among those that had raised the alarm, before coming to office. General Theophilus Yakubu (TY) Danjuma, one-time Army Chief of Staff, had spoken on the subject. General Abdulsalami Abubakar, former military head of state, has also issued similar alert. All warn on the dangers of Nigeria going the way of Somalia. Central in their fear is that if Somalia, a homogeneous entity could be in its piteous state, Nigeria with its heterogeneous tendencies and multiple fault lines, can better be imagined if it is mismanaged. The problem is not on the early warning signals by those that should know. It is rather what is being done to stave off the imminent danger.
Buhari, who incidentally was among the leading voices in the crusade, has been in the saddle in the last five years. While gunning for the office, he had pledged giving frontal attack to corruption and insecurity, among others. The hope of arresting the scepter of insecurity, was mainly what sold him to many Nigerians. But sadly, rather offering the citizens protection, the President seems to have gone asleep or fiddles while the country burns. Even his so-called body language which his supporters had advertised as the talisman to get the country working in his early days in office, has failed.
If anything, the impression from his body language is that of inaction, which gives impetus to insurgents, bandits and his Fulani kinsmen to unleash mayhem on the citizens. Since the inauguration of this administration, Nigeria’s index on insecurity has taken a turn for the worst. For four years running, the country has shared odious slots with Iraq and Afghanistan as the three most terrorized nations in the world. No matter the efforts by the government at downplaying this calamitous categorization, the facts and statistics are there to speak for themselves. It is within this period that over 70 Nigerians, were murdered in one fell swoop by murderous herdsmen in Benue State. It was under this administration that more than 50 citizens were killed in one particular night in Ukpabi-Nimbo, Enugu community in 2016. Bandits are virtually in charge of the states and territories in the North West, while Boko Haram continues to hold sway in the North East. In the atmosphere of confusion there is no discrimination between the sacred and the profane. Priests have been killed right on the Altar while conducting Masses in Benue. School children have severally been violated. It did not occur to Nigerians that the 2014 abduction of students of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, was merely a precursor to what lay ahead. Ever since, pupils and students have been taken in, in Kaduna, Kankara in Katsina State and lately Kagara in Niger State.
For a leader who had promised security of life and property to the citizens, these are ugly developments that should cause him some concern. But it is not easy to determine the extent President Buhari is bothered at the state of affairs, even in the best of times. He is of straight face and perhaps, thinks that it is better keeping the nation guessing. That is playing the African superman. Such is not a good attribute for leadership. Leadership is about empathy, transparency and overtly identifying with the people, particularly in moments of crisis. The unintended message from the President’s unhealthy silence, is that individuals and groups who feel alienated and abandoned by the state to the butchery of the herdsmen and bandits, easily resort to self-help. The problem with this failure, is the gradual abdication of authority by the state to non-state actors. No nation goes this way and returns intact.
It is on this ground that the crisis involving herdsmen and the natives in many parts of the country can be fully understood. Nigeria under Buhari, is on a sorry bent. Indications point to an administration not bothered or not prepared to deal with the challenges of the time. This is not good for the nation.
What is required immediately is what will steer the country out of its clear and present danger. Having fought a bitter three-year civil war between 1967 and 1970, Nigeria cannot afford to undertake any action that will result to loss of life and property of its citizens. We cannot also allow any group take the country to the path of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which witnessed mass slaughter of Tutsi in Rwanda by members of the Hutu majority government. An estimated 500,000–1,000,000 Rwandans were killed during the 100-day period of the mayhem. By not taking precise actions against the criminal herders, Buhari is sending out, perhaps, unintended message of cuddling them of condoning their murderous activities. It may be difficult to guess the extent to which other Nigerians would sit by and watch them run over them.
· Duru is the Editor of TheNiche Newspapers, Lagos