Nasir el-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State, was on Al Jazeera’s The Stream to talk about the crisis in southern Kaduna between Fulani herdsmen and locals that has reportedly resulted in over 800 deaths.
When asked how the issue could be resolved, el-Rufai first said it was a problem he “inherited”, and the only way to end it is to prosecute those killing people and “come after” those making “hate speeches”, spreading “fake pictures” of the conflict and “ethnocising” the crisis.
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Despite el-Rufai’s bluster and threatening language towards one of the other panellists – Ndi Kato, a human rights activist from southern Kaduna, it was clear that the governor had no plans for dealing with the root cause of the problem. One viewer tweeted that ranching cattle was the obvious solution because migrating the animals does not make economic or safety sense.
But rather than address this fact, el-Rufai and the third panellist, Mohammed Bello Tukur, representing the pressure group for cattle rearers, kept banging on about grazing routes and reserves that were established as far back as the 1960s. Kato replied, quite rightly, that if something was agreed in the 1960s and it was risking lives today, it had run its course.
Human lives didn’t seem to matter to either Tukur or el-Rufai. The former, in response to the suggestion about ranching, claimed that it came with difficulties, suggesting that the viewer who suggested it didn’t have a clue and should try housing two cows. This prompted this rhetorical question from Kato: “how easy is it for us to die?”
El-Rufai claimed it was his duty as governor to ensure the security and lives of everyone. He has clearly failed in this fundamental task. He didn’t quite come to terms with the reality of his failure when he claimed that the current crisis was the “least destructive” in history and that “at least 800” were killed in 2011. His official death toll claims 204 people have been killed in the current troubles. However, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) claims 808 people died. Some southern Kaduna groups suggest that the death toll is in the thousands.
While many people from southern Kaduna do not hesitate to describe the situation as “genocide” and, in the words of Kato, the herdsmen “are out to wipe out people”, el-Rufai rejected the genocide label claiming that “both sides are killing one another”. He also blamed “rhetoric” from politicians for aggravating what he saw as a “tit for tat” situation.
Kato, the southern Kaduna activist, ended by claiming there was no “fairness” from the governor and he did not have the trust of the people of southern Kaduna. El-Rufai, who is Fulani, demonstrated in this programme, why Kato’s assessment of him was accurate.