I must first bow to the Imam who saved about 262 lives in a village during the barbarous episodes in Plateau State. He granted an interview to BBC in pidgin and was able to stay off the beasts of plunder and murder by denying that he was hiding Christians under his holy shelter. The village, known as Ingha Yelwa, had fallen under the demoniac wave of slaughter.
About 79 bodies were buried that ignoble day in just that village as part of the bloodletting that, in some accounts, ran into more than 200 fatalities. If that story is true, he must be the epitome of the Nigerian that this Federal Government has failed to imagine or conjure among his defence team. A team chockful of dynamites of fanatics and incompetents.
I also refer with praise to the template set by Simon Lalong, Plateau State Governor, for co-existence between the Fulani and other ethnic groups. It has worked for most parts with relative quiet and copied by some other states. Only a few reports here and there of collapse into bloodletting. But it developed a strain and we saw the fatalities. Such arrangements require good faith from all. Plateau is not an island, and where its neighbours fall under the spell of such pestilential inanity of bloodshed, such tragedies must occur. The constitution makes governors helpless, yet the Federal Government acts with impotence. Hence Zamfara State governor resigned as chief security officer.
Not long after the Plateau mayhem, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association came with two voices. The one saying that the dead deserved it for rustling cattle, and the other rebutting it in cowardly, condescending language. In the rebuttal, they shifted focus to the other group known as Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore and some other shadowy bodies. They implied the other bodies may be cradling the killers. They claim they are innocent. Even as they mounted their defences, the president visited after his vice president in an unprecedented show of concern.
This is no time for symbolism. This is the time for truth. Bloodshed has become routine in my country, and it is foolish for anyone to think that solution is at hand from the visits by the two men. They have failed to change the security architecture or fish out the killers before the courts. While we were waiting for him to sack his inept, bigoted security team, he signed off the deployment of permanent secretaries.
Not along after that, the Berom have announced that Fulani herdsmen have flushed them out of 52 of their villages. In the same breath, one Abdullahi Bodejo of the Kautal Hore, said the Fulani own lands all over Nigeria.
The Federal Government has demonstrated no interest in solving this crisis. First, if the villages of Nigerians are under colonial occupation by marauding Fulani, it means these killers are not spirits. They are waiting there to be caught, arrested and prosecuted. Yet we have a minister of defence with a crude, unrelieved caliphate mentality. The Inspector General of police who should be sulking in retirement disgrace defied his own president by disobeying his orders and bragging about it. The president did nothing.
Our chief of army staff does not understand how armies operate in the 21st century. The team is lopsided to the north, yet it is called a Nigerian security team. This is a travesty. So, why are the marauders basking in other peoples’ villages, lounging in their homes and cowing their churches to their cow lifestyles, feasting with epicurean gloating on their farm crops.
The president said it was unfair to say that he has been silent on the crisis. He probably mistakes the jejune, soulless press releases of his spokespersons as his voice. If his voice has been loud enough, the marauders would have heard. He is an executive president, not a rhetorical president. It is not his voice we need. We need him to act. By leaving the security chiefs intact, it means he is happy with their job. Well, when they kill innocents in Plateau, Taraba, Zamfara, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Benue, et al, it is not good enough. They are bumbling, never-do-wells as guarantors of our security.
Recently a crop of young Christians killed a herdsman in cold blood. He was quickly sentenced to death. Over 2000 children, women and men have been despatched out of this world by the herdsmen. I don’t know of any case in court. Some 22 men have been arrested over the Plateau killings. I have heard nothing about a court action.
The Miyetti Allah rival groups control most of the cattle men in the country. If they are sure the killers are not their men, they should clarify who are the killers. Their defence that they did not back the killings does not convince even the gullible. The position that the Fulani does not forgive or that they will revenge the killing of one man with a hundred or cattle with a whole village is not a new thing. They and their members have said this in the past. So, when cattle are rustled, they exchange human blood.
From all accounts, the MACBAN as well as the Kautal Hore have always in the past two years been able to explain why the killings happened. Yet they protest their innocence. How did they know? Why did they not stop them or report their grievance for official response? The goons know that once they undertake their killings, there would be no consequence. And they have been proven right, even in the case of the Plateau where no one has been charged to court over a week after it happened.
The claim that they are not Nigerians, or that they have Nigerian accomplices are charges we are waiting for. But when they are not identified by names, as Oby Ezekwesili has asked, or their biographies revealed so we know where they come from, then there is official complicity. These men are fanatics with delirium in their eyes. They are not human but savages. How can a modern government shield or coddle savages!
What is clear is that we have terrorist organisations in Nigeria. If MACBAN says it is not them, have they been formally investigated? No evidence about that. What of the other groups? MACBAN seems to know them from their assertions. So what are we doing about flushing them out and telling us whodunit?
The lands acquired only reminds us of Hitler’s Lebensraum, where he craved with a bloodthirsty eye for a living room for the white race. Is that not what is going on with villagers routed from their own homes?
It is obvious these men are not spirits. But they are like flies humming over our meals because they know we have no hands and the man feeding us with spoons does not care if the flies drop their body poisons on the food.
On the surface, we are in a state of war. But the attackers see it as conquest. The victims see it as tyranny. The government is full of excuses.
Big man, big brain
It looked like eternity that morning when we resumed for the second term in class one at Government College, Ughelli. Mr. Asoro, our class teacher, was making a rollcall and when it was the turn of the smallest guy in the class, he said, “Ehimare Braimah, small boy, small brain.” He said it tongue-in cheek. Braimah had topped the class in the first term. Decades later, Ehi Braimah is still in the skies. This week he will be installed as the 58th president of the Rotary Club of Lagos, the oldest and perhaps most storied club in Nigeria.
Braimah, who later earned his degree from the University of Benin, has been a big factor in the advertising and public relations world, listing macquee companies in his clientele and bringing to us many vintage shows that have delighted Nigerians, including Gulder Ultimate search.
Congratulations Ehi, and more cheers as you keep aloft. I now call him big man, big brain. He is no longer the skinny kid, even if he still maintains an alert mind.