It has been three years now since the Southern Kaduna killings and sacking of villages and communities started. More differently however, the situation has never been so poorly managed as the case today. From 2016 to date, the Southern parts of Kaduna State have witnessed the most uncommon carnival of carnage, one that has resulted in laying waste villages and making the entire landscape a theatre of blood.
The new era of terror has been one that has seen the people becoming more circumspect of the government and security organs, their role and responsibility more than ever before. More interestingly, the brotherliness of Nigerians and resolve to remain as one had been remarkable in the gathered sympathy of well meaning Nigerians to the plight of the Sothern Kaduna people. The assurance that comes from such show of love and concern has never gone unnoticed, and has indeed endeared so many to the hearts of citizens from Southern Kaduna.
The carnage bedeviling Southern Kaduna may not be different from what is currently going on in Adamawa and Niger, and has been suffered by communities in Nassarawa, Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Enugu, Katsina etc. To drawdown a conclusion from the general overview of what this heightened state of insecurity portends, is to use the words of the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III that, “they are…terrorists and should be treated as such by the Nigerian security agencies.” He confirmed these arms-wielding herdsmen trying to overrun communities in Nigeria as foreign elements who have come to breach our security. Could this be the only mission of this tactical military brigade who have left only tears and blood wherever they set foot? Can the knowledge of the terrain as shown by this bloodthirsty militia be dismissed with the wave of a hand?
It is quite obvious that all who take for granted the potency of the new bred herdsmen in bringing havoc and disaster on their communities, only do so to their own peril and are only living in a sense of false security. Communities in Jema’a, Kaura, Kauru, and Chikun in Southern Kaduna had looked on with disbelief before now that such could ever happen to them even after the Ninte village was sacked.
People who were quick to give blame to the villagers were soon to discover that there was no reason whatsoever to justify what went down there as they suffered a similar fate. While other nationalities in Nigeria are aghast as to how the Southern Kaduna people are folding their arms rather than facing the threat head on, the understanding that the people here are committed to nation building, rule of law and holders of authorities to high esteem seem to be unnoticed. The cry by the people to authorities from the onset had fallen on deaf ears.
The deployment of security to high ways that cuts across the affected areas instead the theatre of violence was decried by communities as the attackers had taken over their villages, laid waste their farm produce both at home and at their farms was not news that the government was willing to neither hear nor act upon. Even when troops were deployed, they were only availed to protect an Emirate, Hausa-Fulani settlements from any form of reprisal while attacks on indigenous communities went unabated even during curfew hours.
But for the failing of the government to nip the situation at the bud, the killing of students and citizens around a more populated area like Gidan Waya (leading to the closure of the College of Education there), after Godo-godo would never have taken place. Prior to that time efforts to call the government to arrest the situation was not met with listening ears. The Kaduna State Government (the Executive) resolutely rhetoric only talking about the figures they were expending, the efforts they were putting in place that they believe was just enough to bring the matter to rest was not open to any other view.
The legislative arm (State House of Assembly) of government in the state was nearly indifferent to the matter and has remained so. Leaders from the Southern Kaduna extraction in the government in tune with the political standpoint resorted to shifting blame on the victims just to guarantee their fair share of crumbs from their master’s table. The new narrative that the matter is entirely political is true.
The handling of the issue by government authorities has given flesh to this notion. The condemnation of self defence by the State Governor amidst threats, even while Kaduna metropolis is being policed by arms-wielding “Civilian JTF”; making public the implementation in parts of theGen. Agwai’s led committee report to the favour of Fulani terrorist; allowing farmers’ means of livelihood to be laid waste as security operatives await ‘orders’; the non involvement of government in providing succor to the displaced, gives credence to the political undertone to the Southern Kaduna scenario.
The killings are targeted mainly on indigenous communities, with government and authorities looking the other way in a fashion that the Presidency adduces to as the practice of true federalism. The Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai has seen himself first as a Fulani man and has no other viewpoint to the situation besides this. The constant visits of a helicopter suspected to drop unknown items in choice locations before attacks takes place have never been a matter of concern to the authorities.
To look past this to the solutions for lasting security measures in Southern Kaduna some notable intentions and suggestions have been disclosed by notable individuals. The intention of the Federal Government to establish two battalions in Southern Kaduna is not the best measure to bring about the needed security in the area.
There are currently three installations in Southern Kaduna all in Kachia namely Acada, Naval School of Armament and the School of Artillery. Despite the presence of these military installations, which were formally Barracks, military deployment across the areas under crises has been from 3 Division of the Nigerian Army in time past.
In terms of location and accessing areas in Southern Kaduna, improving the capacity of these establishments is all that is needed to strengthen the military under the 1 Division and give more boosts to its capacity to deal with peculiar challenges in time to come. The notion that any new establishment will be made available is suspect being that the Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. T.Y. Buratai had disclosed that the Army will be establishing cattle ranches nationwide. The threat to take forcefully communal land for the purpose to establish cattle grazing reserves/ranches and its resistance by the Southern Kaduna people may have given more steam to the attacks witnessed by the people today. Rather than this benevolence from the Federal Government, one will expect that the government invests more resources to boosting the existing military establishments, more Police Formations and Command across the Southern Kaduna areas.
If anything new, the absence of any specialist health facility in the entire Kaduna South Senatorial zone has been quite obvious in the management of health challenges that has accompanied the unrest. There is no Federal Medical centre in Southern Kaduna. The notion that dialogue is the only solution to the conflict as posited by Nuhu Ribadu is not true. You cannot dialogue with foreign terrorists. To give what exactly in return? Unless, the terrorists are locally aided, sponsored and these sponsors are willing to sit with the people on the table to dialogue.
From my understanding of the carnage so far, there is no measure that can ensure the security of the Southern Kaduna and other ethnic minorities in Northern Nigeria other than ensuring that this foreign herdsmen cum terrorist do not enjoy access into our country through grazing routes as this practice can no longer be sustained.
The Miyyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria in Kaduna State were true to the fact that the settled and semi settled herdsmen in Nigeria and the Southern Kaduna communities can resolve their differences (if any) amicably and with the assurances they have of the Southern Kaduna people being peace loving, forgiving people the matter is not out of hand.
However, there exists within this grazing routes, foreign armed herdsmen which some of the Fulani people amidst us have confessed of their fears on their presence and if these are the people who the government of the State have considered above the laws of our land carrying out these attacks, there is a need to abolish the use of Nigeria’s grazing routes by herdsmen across the African continent. Until this is done peace may remain elusive. Here is a matter of justice for all. In the short term collectively we have an obligation to ensure that we utilize our resources in such a way that our wealth is collectively shared but even so by our kit and kin, fellow citizens and not in this form of generosity that have made us prey to foreign threats that our governments cannot help to bring to book but only strive to appease.
The National Assembly’s (the Senate) promise to institute a committee to look into the carnival of terror that have been witnessed in Southern Kaduna cannot leave out this matter in their effort to deal with this issue of National Security. Justice comes before peace. It is never the other way round.
Also worthy of note, is the perspective that the statement which has come to haunt the Executive Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai in 2012 where he tweeted thus: “We will write this for all to read. Anyone, soldier or not that kills the Fulani takes a loan repayable one day no matter how long it takes.”
The aforementioned clearly makes case for the National Orientation Agency to update the mindset of the Fulani that there is a judiciary, an arbiter of law and justice and no one else. This should in the long term be assiduously pursued like the Nomadic Education program to familiarize the Fulani people with modern day practices to conflict resolution as against picking up arms which seems more promoted by people who ought to know better.
The world is watching. God bless Southern Kaduna, Kaduna State and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Jagaba writes from Kaduna