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Buhari, on the right, is also Fulani and a cattle rearer

Nigeria: Herding for disaster

Every once in a while, a combination of events is served up to demonstrate how dysfunctional the Nigerian state is.

On Tuesday 23 February dozens of gunmen, suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, invaded several towns in Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State and reportedly massacred up to 300 people.

The federal government carried on like nothing happened as President Muhammadu Buhari continued on his Middle East junket, taking in Saudi Arabia before arriving in Doha over the weekend.

It was only after Ayo Fayose, the controversial governor of Ekiti State had condemned Buhari’s silence that we saw any reaction from the feds. The statement from the governor read: “If in the last one week, over 300 Nigerians were allegedly killed, several villages razed, with farmlands destroyed by Fulani herdsmen and President Buhari is comfortable junketing from one country to the other, something is definitely wrong somewhere.

“This is because in saner climes, no country will have over 300 of its citizens reportedly killed with thousands others displaced and the leader of such country will not rush home from wherever he is to take charge of the situation by himself.”

Fayose added: “If 16 years ago, President Buhari could be so concerned about the killing of Fulani herdsmen in Oyo State such that he, as a private citizen led Arewa [Northern] leaders to Ibadan to show their anger, why is the President silent now that Fulani Herdsmen are the ones allegedly killing people, raping women and destroying farmlands in Benue State in particular and other States in the country?

“Is the President unmindful of the possibility of Nigerians seeing his silence as conspiracy?

“Most importantly, what has Boko Haram caused Nigeria that the Fulani herdsmen are not also causing now?” readers should not be surprised about Buhari’s silence on the menace of Fulani herdsmen to farming communities across Nigeria.

Buhari, Fulani herdsmen and dereliction of duty

Our lives are more important than yours

It appears that a combination of the scale of the recent atrocity and Fayose’s intervention has forced the president to issue a statement, when his standard operating procedure was to ignore the issue.

While commenting on the issue beats the ostrich approach, it is an absolute disgrace that such mass murder was not enough for the president to cancel his trip. The leaders of the countries he was visiting would have done the same. Buhari is blissfully unaware that his failure to treat the deaths of his fellow citizens seriously makes it very likely that leaders he has to deal with wouldn’t take him seriously either.

The president’s statement indicated he had ordered an investigation into the killings: “We will conduct an investigation to know exactly what happened; the only way to bring an end to the violence once and for all is to look beyond one incident and ascertain exactly what factors are behind the conflicts.”

This statement demonstrates another example of Nigeria’s dysfunction. Is it not reasonable to expect that the killing of over 300 people should be investigated by law enforcement as a matter of course? So this massacre wouldn’t have been investigated if the president hadn’t intervened? How much faith should anyone have in such investigations when other massacres such as the killing of Shia Muslims by the army in Zaria seem to have been kicked into the long grass?

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