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Idiotic comparisons

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Samuel Ortom

Some months ago the Governor of Plateau State, Mr. Simon Lalong had blamed the Governor of Benue State, Mr. Samuel Ortom for the massive killings of Benue people by Fulani herdsmen.

Lalong thought that the incident occurred because of the anti-grazing bill passed by the Benue State House of Assembly and assented to by the governor.

Now, Plateau State which has no anti-grazing law is having a bitter taste of the murderous fury of the Fulani herdsmen.

About 136 people, according to the Police, were killed a week or so ago in three local governments: Barkin Ladi, Riyom and Jos South.

I am not someone who would say to Mr. Lalong, serves you right, since he did apologise to Mr. Ortom for that heartless remark that tended to portray him as an uncaring neighbour and a busy body.

Besides, the pogrom that has just taken place in Plateau is mind-numbing and any human being ought to identify with it with a deep sense of horror and revulsion.

But the Plateau incident is just one in the series of well-coordinated attacks that have happened in the beleaguered states of Benue, Zamfara, Taraba, Nasarawa, Kogi etc.

A few weeks ago, Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State and Chairman of the Governors’ Forum said sensationally that he had resigned his responsibility as the Chief Security Officer of the State.

The reason he offered was that he had no control over the security machinery in the State. He gave his own diary of disaster, the death toll recorded repeatedly in the state due to killings perpetrated by hoodlums.

He said: “In spite of being Governor and Chief Security Officer of the State, I cannot direct security officers on what to do or sanction them when they err.

As CSO nomenclature is just a name.” He regretted that it “was disheartening that killings in the State had continued in spite of the President’s order to security agencies to end the incessant blood-letting across the country.”

Mr. Yari’s jeremiad is just one of the head-scratching and hand-wringing lamentations that we hear every day from those who ought to keep our country and its citizens safe.

They all seem helpless, the President and the governors, and we the citizens feel even more helpless as the situation looks hopeless.

Mr. Yari cannot resign as the Chief Security Officer of his State because it comes with the territory, the territory being the governorship position. If he wants to resign as Chief Security Officer of the State he should resign as the governor.

But I am certain that he needed that melodramatic speech to drive home the incongruity in being the Chief Security Officer without any authority over the security men.

He is in other words questioning the usefulness of the federalisation of the security forces, the lack of state police which his party has recommended but which President Muhammadu Buhari has pooh-poohed.

He is also questioning without saying so, the importance of the Governors’ Forum which he leads and the APC to which he belongs.

The APC has approved the idea of establishing State Police; the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo approved it too, and even the Governors’ Forum said it was an idea worth implementing.

One man, the President, is opposed to it. His excuse: the states cannot fund it. I believe in spite of their current difficulties the states can fund their police force.

Afterall they are funding the federal police in their states now.

They can fund it because security is, or ought to be, item number one on any state’s priority list.

If funding is the issue I am ready to submit a paper to the Federal Government or the Governors’ Forum on how to fund State Police.

State Police will not solve all our security problems but it will substantially check the current recklessness and impunity and audacity and barbarity that have kept us moaning every day.

While the moaning goes on some people are busy making fools of themselves by making reckless statements on the Plateau killings.

There is no show of sobriety, self-restraint or introspection. The PDP says the killings in Plateau arose because 5000 policemen were assigned to the Eagles Square for the APC Convention.

How asinine! When 5000 policemen were not deployed to Eagles Square were there no killings in Benue, Zamfara, Taraba, Kogi and Nasarawa?

The APC says the killings in Plateau were sponsored by politicians. Really? Can we have their names so that we can push for them to be arrested?

The only politicians who cannot be arrested are the President, Vice President, Governors and Deputy Governors because of their immunity.

Any of the others can be handcuffed and taken into prison if they chose to bring so much tear-shedding to the country.

If the politicians are in the opposition they would have been arrested by now, true or false? So if no politician is arrested it means the sponsors of the murderers belong to the APC, true or false? Let he who accuses provide the evidence.

I have no idea why the PDP asked its offices to fly their party flags at half-mast for seven days. Were the people murdered at an PDP rally or has the party ascertained that all the 200 people killed were registered members of the PDP?

If the two questions cannot be answered in the affirmative then I smell mischief in the manner of its mourning.

If the PDP is sincere I expect it to send a delegation on a condolence visit, donate some money to the bereaved and give us their own blueprint on how these incessant killings can be curbed.

In the UK, the opposition is called Her Majesty’s opposition which means that it is an important and approved platform for making alternative contributions to governance.

The opposition also has its shadow Cabinet Ministers who watch the performance of the incumbents and make informed inputs from time to time.

If the opposition in Nigeria wants to be taken seriously by serious-minded people it must refrain from juvenile criticisms of the government on serious matters.

Rather, we expect it to demonstrate with facts, figures and clinical analysis that it has superior thinking on how to solve the current problems.

I was surprised that the President’s spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, bothered to recite cases of killings during the period the PDP was in power.

Some politicians have even told us that the killings in some states were more than the killings in other states, or that more Fulanis have been killed than Tivs or Idomas or vice versa.

These idiotic comparisons show the high level of degeneracy in our morality and humanity.

Those who dish out these figures or who make these inane statements have lost it, lost the tender touch, the milk of human kindness, the good neighbourliness philosophy, the brother’s keeper vision.

These are the zombies of our polity, people who do not bother about lives, human lives.

To them these lives lost are just statistics. They read about the killings. They sigh and then they move into the next caucus meeting to discuss 2019.

These fellows are less than human. They are the zombies of our polity and politics.

Don’t count the numbers of the dead. Numbers don’t count. Lives do.

One life, even one life, matters or ought to matter to people who care for human life. Abroad activists fight against cruelty to animals.

Here many people do not care about cruelty or death to humans. We are simply drained of the spirit of humane-ness.

Obviously the security forces are overwhelmed by the sheer number of battle fronts that they have had to contend with and the sophisticated weapons wielded by the enemies in front of them.

The upsurge in criminal activities now is unprecedented. Professor Wole Soyinka has asked the Federal Government to ask for help since it is obvious that it cannot do it alone.

There is no shame in looking for help from friendly countries such as the UK, United States, Germany or even the United Nations.

Perhaps the most important hurdle in the management of the current security crisis is the fact that the Federal Government is impervious, in fact hostile, to new ideas, even ideas from its own party. Its position on State Police is inexplicable.

Secondly, the Federal Government adopts a dictatorial, take it or leave it approach to problem solving instead of consulting widely and seeking consent or collaboration.

It has touted the idea of cattle colonies or and ranches without getting the buy-in of state governments who control the land in all the States. The Federal Government only owns the land in Abuja.

The fact that the State Governments always react sharply, quickly and negatively to these proposals is clear evidence that they, federal and state governments, are not singing from the same hymn book.

Thirdly, the President and Commander in Chief who is the Chief Security Officer of the country gives directives and they are not obeyed.

The culprits are not reassigned or removed for incompetence or disobedience of lawful orders.

They just keep holding meetings upon meetings and we see no visible results and no improvement in the security situation.

As people get killed we hear routinised condolence messages from the government and the promise to get the killers.

But the killers remain at large, unarrested, unprosecuted and ungaoled. We appear to be simply running around in circles while the killers have a field day unhindered and our country remains unhinged.

I urge the Federal Government to tap into various ideas proffered by various people instead of stiffening its position on matters on which it can benefit from a fresh infusion of new ideas.


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