The killings must stop

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How Nigerian army, police watch as killings worsen in Benue, others
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How Nigerian army, police watch as killings worsen in Benue, others
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President Muhammadu Buhari was recently received in audience at the White House by American President Donald Trump. During the visit, the President had a golden opportunity to market Nigeria and the full potentials of this great nation.

Whether or not this was successfully achieved is a matter for posterity.

The highlights of the visit included discussion or agreements on agriculture, security, and corruption.

One of the most resounding messages which Trump gave his august visitor was: the killings in Nigeria must end.

No matter what Nigerians think about Donald Trump and his anti-immigrant posture, the ‘end the killings’ theme increased hope that Buhari would take steps to halt the killings of genocidal proportions currently tormenting the country.

The statistics of killings are frightening. Amnesty International (AI) reports that in January 2018 alone, 168 deaths were recorded in Adamawa, Benue, Taraba, Ondo and Kaduna states. AI also reports that in 2017, 549 deaths were recorded in clashes between herdsmen and farmers in 14 states of the federation.

These figures may be conservative. Indeed some other agencies contend that between January and April 2018, the herdsmen have brutally terminated about 901 lives.

Benue state has been at the ugly end of these brutal attacks in spite of the presence of federal troops. About three weeks ago in Benue State, two Catholic priests and 17 worshippers were slaughtered by the same group of scoundrels.

The killings sadly and dangerously provoked a sectarian reaction. The truth is no ethnic group or religious groups have been spared in the killing spree currently ravaging the country. Both Christians and Muslims have been killed.

What unites all as Nigerians is their common humanity. But the approach of the Presidency has complicated matters. And the questions must be asked: Mr. President, what really is going on? Security chiefs, what are you doing?

Insecurity is a reproach to a nation. The primary responsibility of any government is the protection of life and property. This government has woefully failed to do this.

The Boko Haram and herdsmen issues have become a national albatross. It has become scandalous in the face of pronouncements by the government that Boko Haram has been ‘technically defeated.’ Boko Haram has not been defeated.

The herdsmen are still savagely killing people. Kidnappers and ritualists are active across the country.

To compound matters, the government appears paralysed and inept, almost passive on taking any vigorous action to stem the herdsmen rampage.

The National Assembly accused the President of a constitutional breach when he approved the purchase of jet planes from the U.S. without due process. It would seem that he was in a hurry to please Donald Trump.

Sadly, when he had the opportunity to wring a deal from America, he did no such thing. Rather what was witnessed was Trump trying to coerce Nigeria into dangerously opening her markets to American agricultural goods.

All had expected Buhari to make Trump commit to helping to end the insurgency that has virtually consumed the North East Nigeria. But there is no evidence that this happened.

The responsibility to end the killings is with the President. The Presidency should not be seen to be more interested in just securing a second term in office.

In fact, a government that genuinely wants to remain in office ought to have taken definite and strong steps to assert itself.

The fear and worry is that how do Nigerians entrust the future of their country to a leadership that has failed to act decisively in security matters? What hope is there that a second coming would not lead to deadly lethargy?

Nigerians hold the President to his promise to the international community that he would work to end the killings. Mere soothing words are not enough.

A line of action that would give hope to the suffering people of this country must be followed through.

As for the statement credited to the President that herdsmen do not carry AK47 guns, we are at pains to understand our elected leader.

Who are the men who carry the guns and kill citizens at will? A few weeks ago, while in the United Kingdom, the President claimed that the killers were men trained by the late Muammar Ghaddafi, former leader of Libya who died nearly five years ago.

At another time, the Presidency blamed politicians for sponsoring the killings. Is the Presidency confused? Confusion is a sign of weakness. It is particularly dangerous at a time when the nation is technically at war.

Finally, the security chiefs in the country must develop a strategy to bring the killings to an end. They should give sound advice to the Commander-in-Chief on how to effectively end the insurgency in the North East and the menace of herdsmen across the country.

The President should be seen to be actively in charge. At the moment, he appears too distant from every day realities.

That is why perhaps, his misstatements can be said to be the result of insufficient connection with the harsh realities of life in Nigeria. Mr. President must end the killings now!

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