The Muhammadu Buhari administration, it is widely believed, has been slow to respond to the threat to national security posed by criminal elements among herders; a multifaceted solution to the deadly clashes is now urgent.
When in April 2018, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari announced that he would run for a second term in the 2019 presidential election, there was mixed reactions to his intention, with his poor record in office and his cuddling of Fulani herdsmen- in spite of the criminality of quite a number of them – weighing heavily against his reelection. This declaration to contest again came despite mixed reviews about his first term, and his record in office gives his critics plenty of metaphorical sticks with which to beat him.
It should be noted that at the onset of the Buhari administration in 2015, significant achievements were recorded in the fight against national security threat of Boko Haram insurgency. At least it made significant inroads in the attempt at decimating the insurgency in the North East, and degrading the militancy in the Niger Delta.
The government was truly on the verge of achieving reasonable level of normalcy on the security scene in the country before the eruption of incessant attacks by supposedly Fulani herdsmen in parts of the country.
This newspaper is of the view that attacks by herdsmen, without doubt, have become the most potent threat to national security in the last couple of years.
Without mincing word, what makes the attacks by criminal elements among herders very disturbing are the frequency, the level of destruction and sheer brutality and the widely belief that the attacks thrive because the government of the day molly-coddle the attackers on the alleged ground of ethnic solidarity.
These attacks which bear the imprints of impunity are often characterized by high casualty rate and massive displacement of communities. It can be said with an element of certainty that never has the country experienced this level of destruction and social dislocation as the one visited on many communities across the country.
What however is so disturbing with the development is how the attacks in almost all cases took place under the eyes of security agencies. This newspaper holds strongly to the belief that the attacks by herdsmen are without doubt comparable in every scale employed to the insurgency in the North East.
This is the reason why fears are being expressed and tempers and tensions rising across the country that the nation may be treading on a very dangerous ground. As at date, criminal elements among herders often referred to as bandits have intensified their criminal attacks of incessantly attacking, killing, raping and kidnapping people for ransom.
There have been wanton killings by herdsmen in the Middle Belt, Southwest and Southeast.
These acts of criminality which skirts the fringes have resulted in massive displacement of people and loss of lives. The attacks are unprecedented when assessed on the basis of the frequency, the casualty and sheer brutality. The fallout naturally is huge humanitarian crisis in almost all the states affected.
More disturbing, it has given rise to ethnic nationalism and “to your tents oh Israel mentality” as seen in various ultimatums issued to the Fulani herdsmen in the Southwest, Southeast and the militant execution of the eviction order given by one Chief Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho to herders to leave Ibarapa land and by extension Yoruba land.
This newspaper is of the belief that decisive action must be taken to ensure the wanton killings, kidnappings and destruction of farmlands by the armed herdsmen are contained as the threat is capable of snowballing into a serious threat that could set the country ablaze.
This is occasioned by the fact that, the threats have gone beyond the borders of the Northern states. It should be pointed out that, the dangers the activities of the armed herdsmen has serious implications to the corporate existence of the nation. The country at the moment is facing myriads of challenges that have huge implications to its corporate existence.
These challenges include, calls for re-structuring the country and separatist threats to pull out of the union. Not the least unhelpful are also, the threats constituted by the insurgents in the North East despite the huge successes made in tackling the menace. Other security challenges of concern include, the economic down turn and harsh conditions of living, as well as, the lack of employment.
In short, this is the worst time for the government to be confronted with other issues like the activities of the herdsmen. No country would overlook such acts of lawlessness by supposedly herdsmen or treat it with kid gloves considering the fragile nature of the country at the moment.
As severally canvassed at different editorials by this newspaper, the government and specifically, the national security apparatus should do everything possible to neutralize the threat of armed Fulani herdsmen. The responses and utterances of some Northern Elders such as those credited to Bashir Tofa, are not helpful.
We should as one people jettison ethnic chauvinism. What should also be of concern at the moment is seeking for solutions instead of whipping up of inciting sentiments and misguided accusations.
A careful assessment of threats to national security reveal the activities of the armed herdsmen more than any other security challenge in the country at the moment constitutes, the most dangerous.
In the last one year, the activities of the armed herdsmen have resulted in unimaginable destruction and displacement of many communities and loss of thousands of lives. The development as pointed out earlier has added to the humanitarian challenges in the country.
Equally very disturbing is, the fact that, the activities of the herdsmen have without doubt aggravated the feeling of mutual suspicion between host communities and herdsmen.
The herdsmen who before now peacefully coexisted with communities all over the country are now perceived to be enemies.
Communities in the South and elsewhere never had serious disagreements with Fulani herdsmen in the past. It was a common practice to invite them to stay on the farms in communities after the harvest for purpose of enriching the farmlands.
All these seem to have been lost due to the ongoing attacks. Also, seen in the context of peaceful coexistence the attacks by herdsmen are setting the stage for dangerous polarization of the country along ethno ethnic and religious divides.
Compounding the rather fragile situation is the utterances of some individuals, who have declared herdsmen persona-non-grata in their states. Equally very dangerous is how some unscrupulous persons have continued to fuel very disruptive sentiments for cheap political goals.
The call by some politicians for their people to be armed and the mobilization of ethnic militia is to say the least very unfortunate. Granted, that the security establishment have failed in some cases but regardless, the calling for self defence is unjustified and smacks of subversive intent.
Such things only happen in failed states. This newspaper is of the view that calls for self-help in any given situation is very dangerous simply because this encourages the emergence of extremist groups that will be used as vanguards against the state.
The other consequence of the attacks by herdsmen is the threats of arms proliferation. The situation has one more brought to the fore the dangers inherent in the proliferation of dangerous weapons in the country.
The emergence of armed militia in whatever form or guise will have unprecedented destabilizing effects on national security. This is why the call for self defence must be treated with all seriousness. The activities of criminal herders have caused loss of lives, properties and created the sense of fear and insecurity among the Nigerian populace.
It should be noted that insecurity exerts a heavy toll on national economies. It is inevitable that the economic impact of the activities of herdsmen would be more felt in unsophisticated mono-cultural low-income economies like ours; that is the more reason the Buhari administration should jettison emotional attachments and ethnic solidarity and do the needful.
Therefore, the continued rise in the attack by Fulani herdsmen in the country, if not quickly checked, may result in greater investor apathy for the country and resulting in low inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and would make institutional investors look for other stable economies to invest their money.
On the state of the country, when people feel insecure, their appetite to invest, to buy or rent from the product of investment reduces; and that is why all over the world, any country that radiates an environment of insecurity naturally repels investment initiatives from both the international community and its own local investors.
Hence, the activities of herdsmen is a threat to the economic, political and social security of a nation and a major factor associated with underdevelopment; because it discourages both local and foreign investments, reduces the quality of life, destroys human and social capital, damages relationship between citizens and the states, thus undermining democracy, rule of law and the ability of the country to develop.
The Fulani like every other Nigerians have the right to reside anywhere and move freely in any part of the country, but not at the expense of others. Also this must be done under the ambience of the law and peaceful coexistence.

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