A message to Benue and all Nigerians
“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing” -Edmund Burke
On Thursday, 11th of January, 2018, the people of Benue buried over 70 persons slaughtered by terrorists called “FULANI HERDSMEN”! This is not the first mass killings of people of Benue and other parts of Nigeria. Between 2010 and 2018, our people have faced this sustained aggression. Over 1000 people have been slaughtered without the Nigerian state taking definite steps to end the spate of killings.
Year in year out, we are attacked, people are killed, followed by condemnations and appeals to those who are supposed to protect us. Nothing is done. Then we relax until the next round of killings. Now that the most recent victims have been buried, sustained discussions must be accompanied by definite actions.
We as a people must do more than issuing statements, posting on the internet, public demonstrations and writing letters to the President and Heads of Security agencies. Necessary as these actions are, they have not yielded the desired result.
First, we must correctly identify the enemy, that is the evil confronting us. They are not simply FULANI HERDSMEN. The attacks are coming from an ORGANIZATION whose members are known and veiled; Nigerians and Non-Nigerians. Its powerful and wealthy members recruit, finance, and arm its poorest but vicious fighters to attack and kill our people.
We believe their agenda is to destroy our economy and promote their own economic interest; dominate us politically; destroy our personality, including how we think, what we believe in, how we relate to one another and to our Creator. Their aim is TOTAL DOMINATION.
The HISTORY of this is important. Between 1800 and 2018 we have been under attack by this organized evil. Only our unity, courage and determined RESISTANCE have preserved us.
Today, we are supposedly in a modern state governed by laws of which the CONSTITUTION is the ground norm. That Constitution gives power to designated authorities to protect us as citizens and punish those that violate its provisions.We are not protected. Rather it is the violators that are openly shielded and encouraged to undermine the Nigerian Constitution.
Attacking and killing citizens of Nigeria en mass by an armed organization is attacking the Nigerian State. When those we put in authority shield and protect this armed and murderous organization, they become accomplices not just in crime but in undermining Nigeria. The Unity of Nigeria is today being threatened not only by organized terror but also by those in authority who have the capacity to act but are deliberately doing nothing. Could it be that Power is in the hands of Organized Terror?
WHAT IS TO BE DONE
We the helpless people of Benue have cried out, and will continue to cry out to the President and others in constituted authority to live up to their responsibility of defending us as Nigerian citizens against external and internal aggression. They lose legitimacy when they fail to carry out this fundamental duty. No right thinking person of Benue origin has any confidence that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari will protect us.
As a democracy we as a people must come together and consider the best ways of self-preservation. Once we organize, unite and develop concrete steps to take and survive we must reach out to others who are under similar threats.
Other Nigerians must remember Martin Niemöller, a prominent Protestant Pastor during Nazi Germany, who said:
“They first came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.” Let us present our case to the International Community.
Finally, as we approach another general election, let us not blindly hand over our collective power for a pot of porridge to those who will not defend and protect us. We must not be complicit in our destruction.
Dr. Iyorchia Ayu is a former Senate President, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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