The elephant in the room is growing bigger and becoming too conspicuous to ignore. Fulani herdsmen are transitioning from generic attacks on farmers to focalized attacks on Christian priests and worship centers. We are witnessing the incipient signs of a stealthy jihad.
Barely one month after the herdsmen shot dead two catholic priests and seventeen parishioners during a morning mass in Mbalon and followed up with the slaughter of seven persons in a church in Mbamondo Ukemberagya, Benue state, the barbarians attacked an all-boys catholic seminary in Jalingo, Taraba state, shot a priest in leg, assaulted two others and destroyed many cars.
These targeted incidents indicate that the Fulani herdsmen have zeroed in on the Christian faith. Their shock-horror violence against innocents has entered the self-revelatory phase. The mass murders are clarifying their mission. They are making clear that their so-called land grab agenda is a smokescreen: what they really want is to expand their caliphate.
In a recent condolence visit to Benue, Vice President Yemi Osibanjo told the beleaguered survivors that the wave of killings was not part of any planned agenda. But “persecutions have always been with Christians and it is the duty of Christians to stop it.” This naïve reading of the situation is far removed from reality. The killings are too systematic and self-perpetuating not to be well designed and resourced.
And it is sad that all the consolation Pastor Osibanjo could offer was to blame the victims for their ‘’persecution’’. It is not the responsibility of Christians to stop the Islamist colonialists. It is the responsibility of the Nigerian government to guarantee the security of lives and property of the people –and more to the point, it is the neglect of that obligation and the catatonic complicity of the Buhari/Osibanjo regime that have gifted the herdsmen impetus for impunity.
When the herdsmen started their campaign of ethnic cleansing in earnest, President Buhari temporized and temporized as if it was too early to acknowledge. When the brutes raised the theatricality of their savagery and made it impossible for him to continue to pretend that the killings did not matter, he opted to preserve his blind spot and romanticize the hate crime being perpetrated by his very kinsmen.
Instead of recognizing that the killings bear all the hallmarks of terrorism, Buhari institutionalized the false orthodoxy that the horrifying blood porn is ‘’farmers/herders clash.’’ In order to release himself from the duty of tackling it head on as commander in chief, he strove to mainstream the deceptive single story that the killers and the victims share equality of guilt and accountability for the death spiral.
Now that the herdsmen have started to effectively dramatize their intention to alter the faith map of the Middle Belt, the Buhari administration would be hard pressed to account for the selective killing of Christians. The herdsmen have robbed him of his refuge in the sanitized theory that the ‘’farmers/herders clash’’ is an unavoidable humanitarian consequence of the drying of the Lake Chad. They are refuting his delusionary apology that their battle was dictated by pasture, nomadism and climate change. They are affirming their bona fides as nihilists. They are declaring that that their operation is about the conversion of the infidels by aversion therapy, conversion by recurring massacre.
The herdsmen slaughter priests and worshippers who are performing their devotion in sacred spaces for a reason. The murderers want to prove that they will kill everywhere and everytime. Whether you are making ridges in the farm at noon or saying a prayer in a chapel at dawn, there are no sanctuaries. You are a fair game. You are an endangered species.
The killings by the herdsmen will persist as long as Buhari is president. To be precise, the carnage will continue to escalate every day he spends in office. He will not desist from rationalizing and covering their atrocities. The man is deficient in humanity and character. He would rather make excuses for the herdsmen’s criminality than take a hard line against them. He cannot stop not sparing them because he identifies and empathizes with them.
Buhari is more at peace serving as the number one apologist of Myetti Allah than living up to his oath as president and commander in chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He defends their divine right to kill without equivocation or shame. Every time he is cornered, he locates the cause of the crisis outside the evil quotient of the herdsmen and his own unwillingness to confront them.
Buhari has dared to claim that the late Muammar Ghadaffi was the instigator of the killings. Ghadaffi allowed himself to be overthrown by western forces. It was his overthrow and eventual execution that created the conditions which forced vagabond mercenaries to pour across Nigerian borders and establish the start-ups of brutality.
That theory is a lie. Nigeria does not share a contiguous boundary with Libya. Other countries that do are not experiencing the reign of terror of the herdsmen. But Buhari insists the killers are alien soldiers of fortune from the Maghreb.
In almost the same breath, Buhari says the illiteracy of the Fulani herdsmen is the cause of the problem. He said if he had not had the opportunity of going to school, he would have been ‘’involved in this fight.’’ In other words, illiteracy is driving Fulani herdsmen to cultivate genocide as a fetish. Their own agency is not a factor.
While you are trying to process this award of criminal carte blanche to illiterate herdsmen, Buhari turns around and says the herdsmen are actually innocent. They don’t kill. They are never armed. They are peaceable nomads. They move about with no more than a smooth wooden stick. All the herdsmen you see roaming about with AK47 are apparitions. In other words, the industrial scale killings in Benue are curious occasions of mass suicide.
Buhari has also insinuated that the killings were politically motivated. They are sponsored by politicians affected by his ‘’war on corruption.’’ The killings are “corruption fighting back.’’
When taken to task about the Buhari’s administration’s apparent acquiescence, the catch-all refrain of his aides is that mischief makers are ‘’politicizing’’ the killings. They bruit this fuzzy mantra to guilt citizens into disowning their sense of outrage. They propagate it to deter responsible men and women from challenging the normalization of the murder of human beings by an ethnic militia operating with a state license.
President Buhari is the paragon of non-leadership. But even if he was a passably mediocre leader, whatever slim record of achievement he can boast of is totally obliterated by his incapacity to stop the pogrom program of the Fulani herdsmen. There is nothing that can compensate for a leader’s explicit collusion with a holocaust syndicate actively depopulating his nation.
The Christian community in Nigeria feels under siege. There is a growing impression among the Christian faithful that the Buhari administration is in collusion with the herdsmen. While the church has managed to endure the relentless attack so far, there is no telling when the increasing groundswell of grief and the natural instinct for self-preservation will compel them to turn their ploughshares into swords and fight back with interest.
Nigeria is on the brink of war. Maybe a decent to anarchy is the ultimate deliverable we will get from President Muhammadu Buhari.
Emmanuel Uchenna Ugwu
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