Last week I did a work a titled, “Atmosphere of terror,” which adequately captured the high level of insecurity currently engulfing the nation. It was instructive enough that I would have allowed matters to be, but I can’t because of what I see and what they portend for the country. Mind you, I didn’t say nation, I said country because from what I see, we are yet to enter the path of nation-state. Indeed there is fire on the mountain and the eruptions are such that we are only five steps away from an internecine war. Am not happy about what I see and I want to believe no true Nigerian is. Many of us who are conversant with the lessons of history believe long before now we ought to have had capacity to jump over some of the evils bedeviling the country, but from the look of things it would seem some of us know the lessons of history and yet are determined to repeat the ugly side of it.
I don’t know how many of us are touched by the kind of security challenges now happening in some parts of our country. Before it was common for us to say Nigerians cannot be shocked by negative events around them, we said so, often, and those close to us wondered at that time what kind of people we were but after a careful study I know that behavior could be explained. We had social problems and issues but most times except for the civil war period, the incidents were not as gruesome as recent ones appear to be. Before it was about stealing, a bit of armed robbery, waylaying and the likes, then occasionally people moved into the streets to protest bad public policies. But we have since graduated to a more dangerous level, at the stage we are now the human life has no value; even animals seem to have far more high value placed on their lives than those of the human beings.
Level of bestiality is unfathomable. I have find it very difficult to have my meals since I saw the pictures of what happened in Benue State and some parts of Southern Kaduna; the manner of fellow human beings brutally dismembered, the body of fellow beings, pregnant women ripped open, some of them had their necks slit in the manner we butcher goats and cows. Innocent children were not spared either; in some of the instances children under two years had their eyeballs plucked. Why should such a conflict happen at all? This is what nobody has been able to tell. Why men would be so callous in a 21st century Nigeria is an issue that should engage our attention.
But that is not the only issue, we must be worried why in our kind of country and with the level of available human resources we still have the kind of dastardly incidents that plague us almost on a daily basis. If we put wealth and geniality of the average Nigerian together we ought to have a country free of bestial conflicts, but this has not been possible because bloody conflicts have since independence been a tool in the hands of our political leadership class. Our leaders use crisis to gain undue advantages, they burn markets to achieve relocation, they instigate inter-communal conflicts to achieve objectives and if the truth be told the north has profited from this strategy so much. Most violent actions that have threatened the stability of this country have always come from the northern axis and most of it have no justification, except that the few that manipulate power in the region tend to want to have their way “the crude way.” In 1966 for instance, in their revenge coup instead of limiting their actions to the barracks, they extended it to include innocent civilians who never knew of the existence of any disagreement amongst the military personnel; the civil war was executed with such cruelty that more than 40 years after we are still talking about a massacre. I can go on and on, on this including the repulsive Akaluka drama in which the man’s head was chopped off, held up on a stick and taken round Kano streets as evidence of conquest.
In the last two years, we have seen worst forms of cruelty and dehumanization in Southern Kaduna, Benue and Taraba States. Before then it was Borno and Enugu states. As you read this, nobody has adequately explained why this is so and what can be done to stop it. What we see is that every day there are attacks, people are killed, properties are destroyed and all we do is to stand by and rationalize, no effort to stop it. In some cases government officials have told us some of the causes could be traceable to reprisals and the question then became when did such attacks take place and why were the security agencies and the government unable to effect arrest of the perpetuators and ensure prosecution? How come groups will gather, arm themselves and move long distances to commit heinous crimes and escape undetected? We have been told foreigners are behind this evil, fine. How come we give foreigners such latitude to operate in our country, cause harm and massive destruction and still go free?
I see expansionism and dominion in all of these developments. Most of the altercations have happened in Christian dominated areas and if you know history and how Islam spread or conquered new territories, you won’t have problem seeing what I see; it will be clearer when we know that to the average core northerner the Middle Belt indigenes have no status of their own. In recent times the region has been having a face of its own and that obviously does not tally with the political calculations of those who control northern politics. There is an obvious attempt to whip them into line. I have in my mind tried to distance the Buhari administration from this agenda that is as old as this country but the much I try, the more evidences keep popping up to suggest a linkage. The Benue incident of last two weeks did not happen without information, yet it came through. The vandals spent long hours, caused so much damage and were able to escape without any arrest; the Inspector General of Police said what happened was a communal clash when it wasn’t. In Benue he said he was misquoted.
As soon as the attack occurred we heard of abducted Chibok girls being found in the same Sambisa forest that has been under intense bombardment in the last two years. That is curious but more perplexing is the fact that the Benue tragedy was yet to be fully put under control when the federal government came out with the “Grazing Colonies” solution for all states. I am laughing! The colony would be 5,000 hectares of land to be acquired and paid for by the federal government.
Suddenly, the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe, has remembered that our country has not done enough for the Fulani herdsmen. Add such unpatriotic posturing to the domination of the security headship positions by northerners/Muslims under the Buhari Administration no one needs a spiritualist to know we are five steps away from replicating what happened in Sudan, Rwanda, and Central African Republic.s
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Author: Uche Atuma