Before Cows Lead Us to War

In a revelatory treatise done by Premium Times, the Defense House in Aso Rock has been a theatre of conspiratorial plot for inter-agency rivalry and power superiority on who runs the security apparati of the State and who gets the ears of the President.

In all this power match and intrigues, none of the occupants of the security crib saw herders’ terror as a matter of national security until it became escalated where Governors started outsourcing the defence of their states against marauding herdsmen to local hunters’ clans bristling with dane-guns of primitive extraction. Some have sarcastically argued that since it is a primordial wrangling about cows, then it is not a misstep to deploy primitive combat approaches. This is in all sense, comical.

While everything is wrong with Nigeria’s security structure that makes State Executives toothless Chief Security Officers, nothing is equally right with the nation’s seemingly aboriginal psyche of the current class of leadership where speed-to-combat is woven around the slow but unsteady policy drive of President Buhari.

It is an interesting time in Nigeria where we discuss cows as though our existential instinct is rooted in permanent fear of our known neighbours. Like Boko Haram, Herdsmen have taken a bold step in announcing their readiness for combat through their unhindered pockets of attack they have perpetuated across the country.

For years, the moderates have shied away from labels and that is what the security managers of the country have tried to press forward. Either they are Fulani or not, it doesn’t take away the fact that attackers are scions of herders. Some emergency conspiracy theorists have posited that herders gained more balls when President Buhari, a Fulani and cow Manager became the president. Unfortunately, the label, rather than bringing shame and remorse to the guilty party, it has led to a stiffening of resolve and a shameless bravado which have in turn provoked remarkable saber-rattling and war-cries.

Gory pictures of mass burial of 73 people killed by herders in Benue blurred home screens with mourners’ tears hitting hard on the emotions of the country. Not a single delegation from Buhari’s presidency was present at the theatre of pains, an undebatable pointer to how the presidency sees the herdsmen attacks. Few days after that gory display, President Buhari invited elites from Benue to Abuja for an elitist passage of rites to the departed. It was an own goal!

The central government has tagged the killer herders as illegal immigrants who are offshoots of the Libyan uprising and are still heavily armed. Yet the Defense Minister raised the national temperature again when he summed up the remote cause of the herdsmen/farmers clash as being the ‘anti-open grazing laws’ in some States. This can only mean two things – either the Federal Government is sympathetic to the marauders or the government is helpless in finding reconciliatory peace moves to build bridges between herders and farmers. In both cases, it is a sorry turn for an already discredited government.

In Benue, the Governor signed a bill into law, banning street parade of cows and making a case for ranching. Herdsmen association kicked and publicly proclaimed its total disregard for the Law. Herders are seeking the revocation of the Law in its entirety for peace to reign. In Taraba, the Governor is helpless as suspected herdsmen go on rampage every week. In Ekiti, suspected herders killed a pregnant woman few days ago. In Delta, Imo and Ondo, clashes go on unhindered between herders and farmers.

The nation’s internal security is precariously weak, edged on the scary deployment of Soldiers across the country. This arrangement pre-disposes the nation to regimented geography with nationals in constant battle for sanity, more like a prelude to civil war.

To start with, the entire leadership hierarchy of the country needs surgical realignment. Those who run the security apparati of the country are at loggerheads, not because of which security strategy is better but for presidential ego.

In an arrogant defilement of the popular cliché that the solution to headache isn’t to cut off the head, it is a moral responsibility on President Buhari to take a Presidential stance with his security Chiefs and refill the old bottle with new wine such that in no time, the old bottle takes a new shape. If care is not taken by President Buhari, perception may eventually approximate to reality, in which case President Buhari may go down as a tragic integrity impostor.


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