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How to stop herdsmen killings

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President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent statement urging Nigerians to be patient while his security chiefs are racking their brains to tackle the ongoing killings across the country puts the administration at a tight corner. The implication is that government has no strategy yet to deal with a deadly pogrom targeting innocent hapless folks across the country.

The president ought not to have made such statement as that would embolden the killers. How could you tell your enemy who is out to eliminate you that you are still racking brain to know how to tackle him? The statement is self defeatist and totally uncalled for.

Worldwide, security issues including military strategic operations are done in a subtle manner without divulging to the enemy. Does one need to be a soldier to know that once you divulge your plans or strategy to the enemy, they device a means to thwart it?

My fear is let the killers not capitalise on the president’s statement to wreck more havoc on porous villagers since the security team are still racking their brains.

Hundreds of citizens have been ruthlessly massacred in Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and Adamawa states, among others. Thousands have been displaced. They live in squalor in decrepit refugee camps. Billions of naira worth of properties, farmlands and other economic assets have been destroyed.

The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, who issued the statement, quoted the president as saying this while condemning the latest massacre of people including the district head, in and around Gandi village in Rabah Local Government Area of Sokoto State by bandits.

According to Shehu, the president assured all Nigerians that “their security is receiving the greatest attention from this administration and there is no compromise in this commitment.

“I appeal for your patience while my security teams crack their brains to put an end to this horrendous violence,” Shehu quoted Buhari as saying. These remarks are anything but encouraging.

Is the president not aware that while he is appealing to Nigerians, people are being killed? While security is receiving attention, lives are being lost or rendered hopeless. Majority of the victims are the poorest of the poor. The victims are subsistence farmers who live by etching their living from the land. These are the people that are being exterminated and their lands taken over by the marauders.

How could the security team be racking their brains to deal with a problem that has been there since 2015?

Little wonder then that the bloodthirsty marauders continue to wreak havoc unchallenged. Little wonder that villagers are being massacred while arrests are hardly made. Little wonder there seems to be no end to the killings. The killings will stop only when the security team comes up with strategies to deal with the problem. What a nasty situation?

While the security team racks their brains, here are three strategies that could stop the killings:

First is President Buhari’s will and determination. The herdsmen killings is an internal problem that could be handled within Nigeria’s borders if and only if President Buhari makes up his mind and decides to put a stop to it. This will require strong will power and determination on the part of the president.

As the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, President Buhari is in total control of the entire armed forces – army, police, navy and air force. He has the power to issue orders that must be carried out. He has the power to order the closure of any border entry route if the killers are entering from neighouring countries as being alleged.

President Buhari is in a position to order the immediate stop of the killings in Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa and any other state and it must be carried out. Many think that the president has not stamped his feet on the ground to issue such order.

Reports that the president recently ordered the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, to relocate to Benue State and he disobeyed and nothing happened showed that the order was not strong enough. Otherwise, how could a service chief blatantly disobey his commander-in-chief without sanction?

Without belabouring this point, the truth is that if President Buhari wants the herdsmen killings to stop today, it will. Over and above every other thing, Buhari is best positioned to deal with this problem as president and commander-in-chief with the ultimate power. Besides, being from the Fulani extraction, he can speak to the herdsmen in the language they will understand and they will heed.

Second is to create state and local authority police force. Luckily, a bill to this effect is currently receiving attention at the Senate. The earlier there is state police, the better is the security situation. It is tantamount to self deceit for the IGP in Abuja to think that he could conveniently police the entire nooks and crannies of the country. It is impossible.

Just as the remote rural villages don’t have basic social amenities, they also have no security. The people are exposed which is why the killing gangs target such unprotected communities. If there is state/local government police, such interior locations will be policed and protected. The federal police are presently over-worked and at the same time not enough to provide security everywhere. State police will relieve and strengthen the federal police to do better in their assigned duties. Federal police will be needed only where there is need.

Finally, hand security of the states to the governors. Let the governors be in-charge and take the blame if something goes wrong. It is laughable that the governors are tagged as the chief security officers of the states without having control over any security apparatchik. How can that be?

Is it surprising that the entire country is porous while every security failure is blamed on the president? This should not be the case. The governor of a state should take blame for security failure in his state.

A lot has been said about Nigeria’s past when there was county police/native authority police. Inferences have also been drawn from countries like the United States of America where there are different layers of police, even at campus level.

It is unthinkable that Nigeria is plagued by acute insecurity challenges and yet the leadership is toying with the issue of policing framework to deal with the problem.

Once the security of a state is transferred to the governors, there is will be competition. Each governor would strive to secure his state. Herdsmen attacks in Benue or Plateau or elsewhere should be tackled by the governors instead of blaming the president.


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