The West African country with a population of about 196 million people, so far has been a shadow of itself. Nigeria, this Giant of Africa has many ‘giants’ to deal with in its abode. The Boko Haram insurgency, banditry and herdsmen killings have been old menaces that have eaten deep into the country. How can the ‘Giant of Africa’ handle the ‘Giants of the Giant of Africa’?
First, these issues have been in the country so, it should never be the question of ‘who is the president?’ Of course, the leader has a say and can do something to avert the issue, unfortunately, it has been a decay that needs serious pruning. The alarming murderous activities of these giants have called for an attention and all hands need to be on deck.
The name ‘Boko Haram’ is an Arabic-Hausa term meaning ‘Western Education is forbidden’, It is an Islamic sect that was founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002 as a group of people against western education. Yusuf was killed in 2009 by the Nigerian security forces while trying to escape custody after a battle with the police. The death of Yusuf was expected to stifle the activities of the Islamic sect but he had instilled the group with extremist ideologies which led to the incessant killings increasing after his death. The group reformed under a new leader and engaged in several fatal activities like suicide bombings in churches, schools, police stations and any public place that people gather in, to ‘display their talents’.
Secondly, the Fulani Herdsmen (you could remove ‘Fulani’ if you choose to) became another thorn in the flesh when the country is still reeling with Boko Haram. The herdsmen, nomadic cattle grazers, though not yet profiled as a terror group by Nigeria, but has been named as one in the world, is comparable to Boko Haram, ISIS, the Taliban and al-Shabaab.
The herdsmen are made up of the Fulani or Fula ethnic group, a tribe of over 20 million people, 70% of whom are nomadic grazers who are native to, at least, seven West African countries. Their grazing activities are believed to cause problems between them and farmers around Nigeria which has so far killed thousands and displaced many, with mainly the farmers as victims. A visit to Benue, the hardest hit state in the country serves a ready instance on how devastating it is.
According to Wikipedia, a bandit is one who is proscribed or outlawed, a lawless desperate marauder, a brigand. Though banditry has been in existence and it is as old as man, since the early 1980, incidents like armed robbery, raids on villages, attacks on merchants on major highways and in rural areas have been on the increase and it has become another headache in recent times to Nigeria.
Millions of Nigerians have been killed, injured and emotionally distabilised as a result of their activities, parents lose their children, children become orphans, families are separated and the smiles of vulnerable citizens are wiped out. What can one say about the Buni Yadi Massacre? The kidnaps of the Chibok and Dapchi Girls? The bombing activities in strategic areas in the country…? Victims are camped in various internal displaced (ID) camps but the warmth of ‘home’ cannot be got in such camps. Hopes of many children are shattered because of the crises, as they battle with fears and uncertainties.
In a video I saw, a young beautiful girl still wishes to return to school but her aunt wouldn’t have her return because of the fear of being victimised. The girl has already lost her parents and brothers, she is left to uphold the name of the family, so, with security not fully restored, who would blame her aunt for refusing her to return to school? Apart from the physical damages the menaces might have caused the victims, some will be emotionally distabilised and may need psychological help on how to recuperate from the crisis, mentally and emotionally.
What is the government genuinely doing to cut out the activities of these terror groups? The current administration has announced countless victories yet, the sect keep making grand entries with corpses after each entry. The Nigerian government is yet to draft out an effective strategy for dismantling the group (or, maybe they do not want to show it); the challenges facing Nigeria are getting serious and the solutions are scarce. An Islamic sect that started locally has grown wings into a group larger and more dangerous that the government finds it hard to handle. The Fulani Herdsmen killings is becoming unbearable and the government is yet to find a long lasting solution to the menace.
The Nigerian government feels incapacitated to call the herdsmen to order but they can ask the governors in the country to eradicate the anti-grazing laws in each state in order for a so-called peace to reign when the ‘war’ is perpetrated by the visiting herders. Is there any form of law in this country again? Why is it difficult for the authorities to address the activities of the herdsmen? Cattle rearers should go about with sticks, but in Nigeria they have upgraded to the use of guns, who are those arming them? If the government does not handle the Fulani issues, they might end up being the country’s worst nightmare.
Bandits in Zamfara have ‘issued out death certificates’ to many residents this year. This is to show how several terror groups keep coming up, ravaging the country. A government has to care for the social, economic, security and political factors in the country. How serious are they in combat with these groups?
Criminal and deadly groups do not just surface: they take time to hatch; we can now see their manifestations, making a mess of the nation’s security. They engage Boko Haram, Fulani Herdsmen will strike; while they try to get themselves, bandits unleash another blow some other where: confusion. These menaces are not taking turns but are happening simultaneously in this year.
Where is the five-, ten-year plan of the government to forestall these problems? Do they want to simply send soldiers and policemen to ‘curb’ restiveness and wait for another to happen somewhere else as they always do? Who will make use of the sling to make the giants fall like the biblical David? Who can be the Nigerian David?