By Lateef Lawal
The 19 northern states governors may have known that Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gun powder that may explode an time soon if nothing urgent is done to resolve the crisis between the farmers and herdsmen in the south west which had resulted in the destruction of the famous shasha market in the ancient town of Ibadan, Capital of Oyo state.
Although the Nigerian Governors Forum, GF, under the leadership of Kayode Fayemi, the governor of Ekiti state, has promised to rebuild the market which was burnt down in the wake of the crisis, but that may not help to calm the tension in the state which had spilled over to Ogun and Osun states, as the people insists that the Fulani herdsmen must leave their states.
Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, governor of Kebbi state, who had led the northern governors delegation to Oyo state had made the promise of the NGF, of going to support in rebuilding the market known to the people on Tuesday, February 15, 2021, during a peace mission to the state.
Sunday Egboho, the 49 year-old, was said to have raised the people’s consciousness about the threats posed by the herdsmen living in the south west states forest and destroying the peoples farmlands and therefore, the need to flush them out . But the leadership of Miyetti Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, who could not take the harassment of the herdsmen any longer had called on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare Egboho a terrorist and threat to society. But that was how far they could go.
The Northern Governors, who are not ready to watch the country disintegrate , may have taken a bold initiative de to send as an emissary to the Oyo state, Abdullahi Gnaduje of Kano state, Abubaka Atiku Bagudu, Kebbi, Bello Matawalle, Zamfara and Abubakar Sani of Niger, home state of former military President Ibrahim Babangida, a retired army General whose state is under the severe threat of Bandits, to Oyo state to dialogue with Seyi Makinde, the Oyo state governor on how to resolve the crisis before it gets out of hand.
The four northern states governors who were at Ibadan, on Tuesday, had taken opportunity of the visit to assess the destruction at the Shasha arket, the scene of the clash between the Yoruba and Hausa Communities. They were said to have been accompanied by armed security Operatives to the Shasha market. The worry of many was that those who carried out the counter attack against the Yorubas at the market may not be real herdsmen but BokoHaram members masquerading as herdsmen who had been deployed to different parts of the country by their Commanders with one objective : to distabilise Nigeria.
This may have informed why security experts would want the northern states governors who are onvinced that there is trouble in the south west based on what they have seen on ground at Shasha, Ibadan, to look beyond the herdsmen. the governors may have had a closed door meeting with Haruna Maiyasin, the Serriki, of Shasha and the Baale of Shasha on the need to call their people to order but that is not enough. The number of Okada riders from the north that had entered Shasha Community since after the clash between the Farmers and herdsmen speaks volume, an indication that herdsmen are still poised for exchange of bullet with the Yoruba farmers. This is where the seriki and the Baale of Shasha have a big task at hand to cue into the governors advice ‘’to stop the hostilities and forge a more formidable bond for peaceful coexistence’’. The northern governors had were said to have held talks with Mainde , the Oyo state governor after a tour of the troubled spot .
Worried by the high level of insecurity in the country, Babagana Munguno , a retired army Major General and the National security Adviser, NSA, at the instance of the Katsina state born Nigerian President had initiated plans to lead a delegation of Heads of the various security agencies to the six geo-political zones in the country to hold town hall meetings with the state governors , traditional rullers, religious leaders and the lawmakers, Non- Governmental Organisations ,Youth and Women Organisations. The meetings are expected to provide direct assessment of the security situation in their various regions in order to generate feedback and recommendations on how to deal with the problem that had defiled all known efforts to solve it.
The NSA and the Service Chiefs, were said to have the first meeting in Kaduna , with the seven north west states governors of Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Kano, Katsina , Kano and Kuduna, in Kaduna. The governors may have identified open grazing as the root cause of the prevailing tension between farmers and herdsmen in different parts of the country. The northern governors may have hit the nail on the head.
Recall that last Monday, the NSA,and the Heads of the other security agencies had sought for more time to develop ranches in their various states. The governors believe that the ranches are only panacea to solve the incessant farmers and herdsmen clash in the country. The NSA, and the security Chiefs were said to have proposed another meeting with the north west governors to draw up a road map to better security in the region.
The Katsina state born Nigerian President may have known that that the open grazing is the major problem between the Farmers and herdsmen that he had mooted the idea of the Rugan programme , which had been on the drawing board of the then Civilian Administration in the ‘60s but could not be implemented because of the strong Opposition to it.
The Nigerian President may have suspended it due to the public outcry against as a plot to Islamise the country.Dave Omahi, the Eboyi state governor, had said that the Federal ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources Programme, was not consistent with the National Executive Council, NEC, and the government approved National Livestock Transformation Plan, NLTP, resulting from the crisis and also development of ranches in any willing state of the Federation.
Ruga was said to have been conceived by the Buhari Administration to enable willing states to contribute large areas of land to the government for Construction of animal husbandry.
Notwithstanding the tension in the country, the Nigerian President who appear unshaken had said that ‘’the stability of the stability of the country is paramount to him’’, stressing that he will continue’’ to work towards it’’. He spoke his mind when some Elders from Yobe state paid him a Courtesy call on Tuesday . Buhari who could not hide his feelings had said that the upheavals in some parts of the country were caused by some few people with resources and influences to serve their pecuniary interest.
He may have assured Nigerians that there was no cause for alarm as the people’’ will be identified and dealt with in due course’’. This is a clear message to the likes of Egboho, in Oyo state, watch it, as security Operatives may be closing in on him. But the worry of many is that if the Muhammed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police , should arrest him, there might be total breakdown of Law and order in the south west and as the people as their own Liberator as the Political leaders and traditional rulers have failed them. This is where the security Operatives may have to thread with caution and follow the approach that had been initiated by the NSA, and the service Chiefs to calm the tension in the country by meeting with the people to get their opinion on how to douse the tension and ensure that people of all ethnic groups live in peace in their respective states.
While Munguno, the NSA and the service Chiefs are out to draw a roadmap to ensure adequate security of lives and property in the seven north west states, Bandits , appear to have intensified their operation in north Central state of Niger, in the recent time. This is evident with the recent kidnap of students and teachers of Government Science Colleg,e in Rafi local government Area of Niger state for alleged ransom.
The NSA, who was said to have recently led the service Chiefs to hold a meeting with the north west governors on the security situation in the country, and Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector of Police , whose tenure was extended by three months to terminate in May, 2021, by the Nigerian president were said to have gone to Minna to reassure Abubakar Sani Bello, the state governor, , who was said to have wept, and the people of the state that efforts are being made to rescue the abducted students and teachers of the Government Science College, Kagara.
The Nigerian President was said to have also dispatched to Minna, the Niger state ,Capital, a delegation of the security Chiefs to Coordinate the rescue operations and to meet with state government officials, Community Leaders as well as parents and staff of the College. The Bandits, turned kidnappers , who were said to have attacked the school on Wednesday, February 17, 2021, according to an eyewitness account wore military uniforms and were shooting sporadically into the air to draw out the students and Teachers.
Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President and Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party who is no longer finding it funny about the payment of ransom to these Criminals has raised his voice, urging ’’the government to stop rewarding Criminality’’. He noted that ‘’doing so will result in more crimes being perpetrated in the society’’. Comparing the security situation in the country now to when he he was in government, he ‘’lamented that it has deteriorated bbadly, describing ‘’the menace as alarming’’.
The former PDP ,Presidential Candidate, however, advised the government’’ to enforce the Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria against abductions and kidnappings, by apprehending the Criminals , prosecuting them, and making an example of those convicted, to serve as a deterrent to others’’.