The backlash of criticisms of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration over the Southern Kaduna killings really pained the heart on account of its sentimentality. Commentaries by some Nigerians accused him of silence, conspiracy, inaction, shielding of murderous Fulani jihadists, failure to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators. The abrasive cacophonies were indiscernibly loud.
Nigerians are so immersed in the character of unjustly vilifying their leaders. For instance, a respected Nigerian columnist at-large wrote a piece last Sunday expressing a wide range of his disappointments with the Buhari Presidency. He regretted being one of his ardent supporters for the Presidency in 2015 and writing about the “fall” of Buhari and his APC government, he insisted Buhari’s presence in Aso Villa has not proved to be the “missing link” and “an opportunity” in governance as he initially believed.
In attempts to justify his criticisms of the APC–led government of Buhari, the columnist wrote;
“Buhari says he is fighting corruption, but corruption is thriving in every measurement that matters. Buhari has done nothing of note to make anyone wake up in the morning afraid, or respectful, of Buhari. Sixteen years of the Peoples Democratic Party that Buhari lampooned daily, and yet you can count on the fingers of one hand of its members who are in trouble. There is a ton of stolen funds all over the place begging to be creatively cornered and plunged into the national cause, but Buhari’s government would rather beg for foreign loans.”
The author of the piece is a veteran journalist and author of repute. He is by every stretch of imagination an intelligent Nigerian. But in the quoted words, it’s hard to believe this writer’s insinuation that President Buhari should have mutated into the judges in courts presiding over corruption cases to seize the looted funds.
He expects Buhari to coercively hound every suspected looter into jail and compel him to cough out what he has stolen? And if it happens; they will brand him a “civilian dictator.” The columnist has nicely turned his back on the legal processes and procedures involved in retrieving looted money and blinded himself from the actions and inactions of the Bar and the Bench in stifling the anti-corruption campaigns or corruption trials. But he feels elated and more convenient to blame Buhari for not doing enough. It has not struck him as anything useful to know that Buhari has not exuded any sign of shielding or supporting looters of Nigeria, as previous Presidents would do.
This is the unfortunate mentality of Nigerians. If someone as enlightened and exposed as the columnist could gladly share such unfounded sentiments, it explains in chilly details the predicament of Nigeria. Some Nigerians are propelled by this proclivity to believe President Buhari should double or even triple as the Senate President, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), the DG, DSS or the Inspector General of Police (IGP) at the same time.
These are offices with separate lawful powers, which do not necessarily require the additional presidential orders to perform or act on any matter. They might argue that those who man the offices are his appointees, which is true anyway. But if they exude signs of weaknesses, why do these commentators prefer to shield them from exposure? Is it possible for President Buhari to be the sweeper of every compound in Nigeria or the third eye in every office?
Now, several voices of condemnations were raised against President Buhari over the Southern Kaduna killings as earlier mentioned. The President was unduly castigated for authorizing his Fulani kinsmen to murder Christians. But at last, security agents who worked tirelessly have brought the matter under control. The Police have arrested and paraded 17 suspects in connection with the massacre in the Southern Kaduna communities as fruits of this security intervention.
The Nigerian Army have also been drafted to tame the tide of violence and killings with the establishment of a military base in Kanfachan, Jema’a local government area of Kaduna state. While launching the military barracks, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai said the idea is to stimulate quicker response to threatening insecurity issues in the area. The Army Chief submitted that a military barracks in the area would consolidate the peace process.
But some Nigerians, the columnists, the analysts and the opposition are unwilling to applaud the efforts of government in securing the lives of communities in the area endangered by the bloody swords of marauding suspected Fulani herdsmen. These cynics have not seen the neutrality of the Buhari government in the abhorrent misfortunes that visited the people.
The few prompted to comment on the new efforts of securing the place, anchor their comments from the angle of negativism. They claim the Police feigned the arrest of suspects, without any evidential proof. The same way some people feel President Buhari should magically head every office in Nigeria, the critics want to assume the toga and duties of Police or composite security agents to affect the arrest of the suspects before it becomes a believable tale.
It is quite funny. When an action is not initiated expeditiously as they expect, it is a problem and when an action is taken, it is another problem of its own, as they only sight loopholes. And soon they will shout hoarse about how President Buhari is not speedily prosecuting the suspects, as if the President of Nigeria also doubles as the presiding judge over the cases.
Despite the distraction to themselves, good spirited Nigerians are not blinded by sentiments and have continued to eulogise the President’s quick intervention and neutrality in the handling of the Southern Kaduna killings.
For instance, the Northern Christian Youth Assembly expressed fond pleasantness over the formation of a military unit in Kanfachan.
Its coordinator, Mr. Peter Bawa, said, “We see the building of a military formation in the area as a way of shortening troops deployment time and ensuring that troublemakers within that vicinity are given a hot chase and no longer have anywhere to torment the peace of the people.”
“The prompt implementation of the barracks project is a demonstration of the administration’s sincere commitment to ensuring the safety of lives and property of all citizens irrespective of political or religious leanings,” he added.
And in his usual proactive style of attending to security issues on the orders of the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Buhari, the COAS instantly commenced action as hauling of equipment and facilities began, after Gen. Buratai performed the foundation laying ceremony, flanked by Kaduna state Governor, Mallam Nasir el Rufai.
The story would not go full circle, unless the armchair critics of Buhari again write that the President has deployed soldiers to “kill” his Fulani kinsmen. Is it plausible to say a leader who sends his tribal warlords to terminate lives would in another direction send security to arrest and prosecute them as insinuated in the Kaduna incident?
However, the success or failure of the peace initiative in Southern Kaduna is in the hands of indigenes of the afflicted communities based on their willingness to assist security agents protect them. They must be ready and always be prepared to volunteer to gather and share information with the Nigerian Army on likely sources or causes of breach of security for soldiers to act proactively to avert ugly incidents.
Quite, importantly, Nigerians must also begin to help themselves by imbibing the spirit of tolerance and good neighbourliness. It is not every quarrel that should end in fracas and bloodletting. Disagreements can be settled without spilling blood or torching communities. This barbaric tendency is pulling back individuals, communities and the nation.
It is easier to blame the President and test-run all manner of claims or theories on him, but those who bear the brunt of the upheavals deeply are the direct victims. It should therefore be their sacred responsibility to scout and harvest ways of living together peacefully to make life more meaningful. Nigeria is being unnecessarily militarized because the flames of communal conflagrations usually overwhelm regular and civil security agencies. It is not a good testimony of any set of civilized people who lay claim to a rewarding life.
Fomson is the National Co-ordinator, Northern Inter-Faith and Religious Organization for Peace.