President Muhammadu Buhari
I saw the pictures and they were downright horrific; they made my stomach churn! I saw the pictures bearing graphic images of women, young and old, who were mothers and sisters and daughters of other people, lying dead in the pool of their blood with parts of their bodies cut off. These are people who were only the day before, dancing and singing praises to God for being able to see the end of 2017. Now, they were lying dead, sprawled across the floor in gory postures; cut down in their prime! Women were not the only ones in the pictures. I saw men too; able-bodied men, virile men. They were lifeless and they had deep cuts on their chins and necks and stomachs where the machetes and cutlasses had sunken in from repeated blows.
The pictures were from the latest attack on innocent, unarmed, defenceless and peace-loving indigenes of Benue State whose dreams and ambitions have been untimely cut short while they were still basking in the euphoria of making it into the New Year.
The attacks which reportedly began at the Guma and Logo Government Areas of the state on Monday, New Year’s Day, left as many as 50 persons dead. Some newspapers have pegged the number of the dead at 20.
The invaders allegedly waited till the people were returning from the New Year service before they launched the brutal attacked. In fact, the herdsmen are said to have gone from compound to compound, capturing people and slaughtering them. They would first knock and then lay hold onto whoever opens the door and that would be the end.
This terrorist act of senseless murders and outright massacre spilled over to Tuesday, pushing the people to the wall as youths took over the streets in violent protests; a desperate attempt for attention, to be listened to.
However, not only did the President, Mr Muhammadu Buhari, keep quiet for too long, when he did speak, it was to give his “condolences” to the people of Benue State. And, of course you guessed right, he gave the commiseration on Twitter! And that was it!
Dear Buhari, the people of Benue State don’t need your commiseration, sir!!! We don’t need that! You must stop commiserating with the families of those killed in Benue; what we want you to do is to rise to the occasion to nip this mind-blowing menace in the bud. Period! This has gone on for far too long. Why do you keep quiet and watch with docile impetus as people groan and suffer and die right under your watch?
The troubled state of Benue, as just one state under fire from Fulani herdsmen, suffered up to 20 such attacks in 2017 alone leading to the death of scores of innocent people. This latest attack on New Year day is obviously the first in 2018 and the perpetrators look like they are far from ending their bloodshed. The people of Benue are terrified, tired and have completely lost hope in your abilities to secure them and give their lives any meaning.
The terrible killings by Fulani herdsmen have caused more commotion and have led to the death of more Nigerians than any other criminal atrocity by any group, across a broader geographic spread in Nigeria. From Plateau to Benue, Nasarawa, Yola, Borno, Enugu, Adamawa, Anambra, Ekiti, Delta and lots more, the Fulani herdsmen have spread their tear-jerking tentacles, causing panic around all the geopolitical zones in Nigeria. Even the Boko Haram insurgency does not boast of that. Yet the federal government under your command and direction has refused to declare and consequently treat the killer Fulani herdsmen as terrorists. Instead of doing that you have decided to call every of these massacres “clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers” and then proceed to make sure each group shares the blame for the killings.
Sir, the killings in Benue State which are being perpetrated by the herdsmen are no more merely “clashes between the Fulani and farmers”, these attacks are purely unprovoked and are acts of people driven by an insatiable quest for blood-letting and who are encouraged by your silence after every attack.
You are too quiet, sir and you are quiet while we die!!! It is unbelievable, absolutely inconceivable that as the president of this nation, you have not found it fit to pay a visit to this troubled part of the land you rule and personally give the people there some measure of hope again; you have instead chosen to throw caution to the winds, mock us in our faces and begin your campaign plans for 2019.
Why have you not visited Benue State, Mr Muhammadu Buhari? Are the people there goats and sheep? Don’t they have blood running in their veins? There was no one to advise you to tow such a path?
You have never visited Benue State even in the heat of the deadly massacre carried out there, yet you flew to Zamfara State in July last year to directly launch a special military task force to fight “bandits” when the state came under attack by herdsmen. You didn’t stop there. In November, you ordered a military crackdown on bandits operating in rural communities in Zamfara State.
Why do you take Benue people for granted? Are you sympathetic only with a section of the Nigerian populace? Should we begin to doubt your stance as a man of integrity who is not an ethnic bigot but a man of the people?
I am a young Nigerian who is aggrieved; deeply aggrieved about why we can no longer sleep with too eyes closed, and I want to ask questions.
Nigerians have lost hope under your leadership. The enthusiasm has completely faded, what we feel is total lack of faith, optimism…confidence; you have let us down.
We are not too surprised though. We were equally shocked when persons have already died and have been buried, were appointed into positions of public service, right under your nose. This one don pass our power.
I need to let you know right now, that the disgruntled people of this nation are pissed off and will stop at nothing to ensure you are driven back to Daura when the time is right.
Do something or resign right now if you cannot find ways to better our lives any longer!
Samuel Daniel, a journalist, writes from Lagos.