COLUMN/OPINION

President Buhari, Herders-Farmers Clash And The Fallacy Of Nepotism

At the popular Eagle Square on the 29 May, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari made a remarkable statement that have continued to serve as the compass for his government. He said, “I belong to everybody and I belong to no one.”The policy direction of his government has been anchored on the belief that irrespective of ethnic affiliation, religion and region, all Nigerians deserves to be treated equally. This attribute about Buhari is what is well known, even during his first stint as the military head of state. He had no preference. It is therefore, surprising that the same Buhari who known for his principled stand, suddenly become an ethnic jingoist. Or he has become insensitive to the extent of encouraging herdsmen to cause mayhem for a government that he will take credit, if everything is going well. This story is better told to the Marines because it is inconceivable for any sane mind to buy into this gullible trajectory.  Though, naturally, sticks and stones are only thrown at fruit bearing tree. But on the accusation that President Muhammadu Buhari is not neutral in his handling of the farmer-herders clash, is grossly unjust to say the least. In the last two weeks, Sunday Igboho has constituted himself into a pseudo government in some South West states, especially Oyo and Ogun, killing and maiming. If President Buhari is nepotic as anti Nigerian elements will want us to believe, he would have ordered for the immediate arrest of Sunday Igboho, because the mayhem Igboho has caused is against the Fulanis, his people. Only Wednesday this week, President Buhari ordered arrest and prosecution of all illegal arms bearers in the country irrespective of their ethnic affiliation. That is loud and clear enough for those who want to give Buhari a name, in order to hang him to understand. 

Instead of blaming President Buhari, why don’t we beam our searchlight on the source of the problem, I think that will give us the leverage to join hands and find solution at once. It is important to reiterate what experts in cross boarder security have been saying, including President Muhammadu Buhari himself, who have identified the collapse of the Col Muammar Gadaffi’s regime in Libya for the influx of arms into Nigeria. 

Where there is arms in the hands of undesirable non-state actors, the consequences is what Nigeria is suffering today. This is not problem of ethnic bigotry or other mundane consideration. Ordinarily, President has demonstrated his zero tolerance for criminal elements and would not harbour or favour anyone found wanting by security agencies. This is demonstrated in this latest order to the security agencies. 

If the president has stated in categorical term that anyone seen carrying a gun unlawfully should be arrested and tried regardless of where he comes from, should that not be enough to define the person of President Buhari as it has to do with ethnic affinity? 

To be able to solve problems, especially as it has to do with herders-farmers clash, we must understand it in context. Apart from the untold pressure brought on Nigeria by influx of arms from renegades in Libya, the Lake Chad, which for long have been a source of pasture for herdsmen has receded drastically, causing mass movement of herders from extreme north towards the north central and the south. While the herders are struggling to get feed their cattle, the farmers are fighting to preserve the land for their farming occupation. The situation is neither here nor there! The best thing for us to do is to find common ground. That is what the Buhari Government is doing. 

Efforts are ongoing by the Presidency towards bringing an end to the herdsmen’s crisis. Among them is the old cattle routes we know have been taken over by civilization.  Ranching is the modern means of rearing cattle. 

Another alternative was the RUGA settlement, but people came out to say that there is no land for it. Now, some are saying that cattle rearing is a private business so the government must not be involved in it.

With all these options on the table, President Buhari is not letting down his guards in an effort to bring a conclusive end to the crisis. It will however be a great disservice to President Buhari and Nigeria for a setting segment of our society to continue to dangle ethnicity card, despite Buhari’s unwavered commitment towards solving the problem. 

Come to think of it, how can President Buhari be probating and reprobating at the same time? I stand to be corrected that there has never been any administration so serious or invested in agriculture like the Buhari led government. Will the same man turnaround to sabotage his food sufficiency campaign? Knowing that farmers and herders clash is capable of undermining food security. 

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