Writing about the widening spectre of terrorism in Northern Nigeria and much of Nigeria reminded me of a beautiful television programme with a catchy title that says: The Rich Also Cry.
The situation of insecurity in Nigeria is a home grown existential threat that hangs like a sword of Damocles on everyone’s neck whether rich or poor. After all, even the Central bank of Nigeria’s governor has had to cry when his beloved wife was also kidnapped. She got released pretty quickly. Unlike the 39 Students of the Federal School of Forestry in Kaduna kidnapped few days back but who had spent about a week with their captors and government makes no move to rescue them. Leah Sharibu the 14-year-old girl was abandoned with Islamic terrorists by President Muhammadu Buhari who had negotiated for the release of about 250 other female students of the same school as Leah Sharibu who were kidnapped from Yobe State. Leah Sharibu has now spent 3 years in captivity. The truth is that on insecurity the rich also cry in Nigeria.
As I searched for information on the rested television programme, I encountered a historian that accurately states that “most people have probably forgotten THE RICH ALSO CRY(Los Ricos Lloran Tambien), the first global telenovela and the VERY first Mexican soap to hit our screens, back in the 90s. It’s a Telenovela that will forever remain in our memories, mostly because of the Principal characters; Marianna played by Veronica Castro (who happens to be a year older than my Mum… it’s true, the telenovela was produced in 1979),Luis Alberto played by the handsome and very macho Rogelio Guerra(right), Augusto Bendico(who sadly died at the ripe old age of 83 on January 19, 1992) played the family kindly but no- nonsense Don Alberto who took the orphaned Marianna in and treated her like the daughter he and his wife never had, including encouraging her to be a positve influence on his wayward son ,Luis Alberto but at the same time protecting her from being taken advavantage of.”
The historian says also that: “There’s also Elena, Alberto’s wife (first played by Alicia Rodriguez then later by Marilu Elizaga). And last but not least, the woman THE RICH ALSO CRY fans hated so much and was a constant thorn in Marianna and Luis Alberto’s flesh, Elena’s niece, Esther played by Rocio Banquells whose diabolical action caused most of the action in the telenovela but reports indicated that most people cried when she asked for forgiveness on her deathbed.”
Seeing that the rich also cry when we talk about the widespread violence against citizens in Nigeria by mostly armed Fulani herdsmen and other variety of non state actors should compel a return to mentioning the fact that the framers of the extant constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 knew the pivotal place of National Security which informed the dedication of that thematic concept as the primary duty of government as enshrined in section 14 (2) (b) that clearly and unambiguously provides that: “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”
Unfortunately, there have been a lot of incidents and horrendous security breaches that constituted grave threats to the security of the citizens and the Nation State that have become way too common to the extent that millions of Nigerians since the past five years of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari have started to ask question to ascertain if there is a choreographed and clearly orchestrated plots by certain forces to derail the sovereignty, territorial integrity and National Security of Nigeria.
This critical interrogatory became obvious when President Muhammadu Buhari could not be coherent on the exact source or sources of the large caches of sophisticated weapons that have saturated North of Nigeria and are in the active possession of mostly the Fulani herdsmen most of whom have veered off into criminality as armed bandits, kidnappers and terrorists.
Also, the government at the centre has been busy offering excuses on why armed Fulani herdsmen and other militia are allowed to operate freely. Right now, even the kidnappers, bandits and terrorists have found in a Kadina based Islamic cleric Ahmad Gumi a spokesman who vehemently defend these terrorists just as the President Muhammadu Buhari does nothing about this clear violation of the anti terrorism Act. Who will call the President to order?
The President currently has someone he branded his National Security Adviser a retired Major General Babagana Monguno who has been in that position for over five years yet the state of insecurity has gone from bad to worse and under the watch of the central government, not even executive governors are free from these ochestrated terrorism.
The NSA appears grossly incompetent and lacks what it takes to offer quality security advice that can change the current negative indices of national security. He has even defended Sheikh GUMI for speaking for armed bandits, kidnappers and terrorists because in his warped imagination, anybody can talk to anybody.
The key officials of the Federal government go fiddling around whilst the attackers become bolder, deadlier and audacious.
By far, the most audacious violent attack targeting the citizens of Nigeria remains the very recent assassination attempt by armed Fulani herdsmen on the life of the governor of Benue State-Mr. Samuel Ortom.
Uniquely, the Benue State Governor has since he came on board over five years ago, has had to speak out and adopted law based panacea to confront the challenge of insecurity Constituted by armed Fulani herdsmen who had virtually turned Benue State into a killing field.
During his first term in office as governor, Samuel Ortom participated in a mass burial which saw over 100 civilians killed by armed Fulani herdsmen in the different communities of the mostly Tiv speaking and Idoma/Egede nationalities of Benue State.
The Benue State governor who actually rode on the back of the same political party with President Muhammadu Buhari to win the office of governor under the All Progressives Congress (APC), had actually walked away from that political family and enlisted into the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with which he won office for the final four year period.
The reason for which the Benue State governor divorced from his original political family of APC was precisely because of the obvious failures and lapses on the part of the Federal government to protect the National Security interests of Nigeria especially from violent, terror attacks by mostly the well armed Fulani herdsmen who are of same ethnicity and religion with the President and virtually seventy five percent of the heads of the National Internal Security Networks or infrastructures are headed by Fulani or Hausa Northern Moslems handpicked by President Muhammadu Buhari who has become the most nepotistic President ever in the entire World.
The North central State of Benue alongside the Christian Southern Kaduna State have become obviously the choice killing fields of armed Fulani herdsmen who had succeeded in over running hundreds of native communities and displacing the aboriginals who are now camping as internally displaced persons in different parts of Nigeria even as the invaders have allegedly occupied these conquered towns.
The Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, SOKAPU, recently cried out against the continuous attacks on its people by suspected Fulani militias, resulting in the loss of several lives.
The forum in a statement issued by its spokesman, Luka Binniyat, said that Adara natives of Kallah ward, Kajuru LGA of Kaduna State, Thursday, 29th October, 2020, witnessed another tragedy where Mr Kaduna Garba, 32, father of two children, who left the IDPs camp in Kallah town with his kinsman, Francis Bala, 38, and heading for their native Magunguna village to see the situation of things, among 18 other Adara communities were ambushed.
The statement further explained that the two men were ambushed and attacked just before getting to the village by armed Fulani with daggers and machetes, saying that Kaduna Garba was instantly killed while Francis Bala escaped with fatal injuries.
In the same vein, the statement said Irmiya Bitrus, 20, from Kwakwa village, in Atyap Chiefdom, Zangon Kataf local government area was also attacked by suspected Fulani militias who inflicted grievous injuries on him, saying that he is at a private hospital in Zoknwa receiving treatment.
It added that his friend, Dachomo Alamba, 20, with whom they were attacked on the outskirt of Kwakwa village around 7:30pm on Monday, 26th October, 2020 by same armed Fulani men, died of his wounds on the spot after the assailants fled.
The statement noted that armed Fulani men attacked two Gbagyi men riding on a bike on the Buruku-Damba-Kasaya road in Kunai ward, Chikun local government area where Mr. Ezra Nayaro, 45 and father of 7 children was gunned dead while the other passenger escaped into the bush.
The statement expressed its concern on how some Southern communities are now fully occupied by armed Fulani militia some for over a year, stating that the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai is still in denial that such reprehensible truth doesn’t exist.
SOKAPU said that there are proofs that the villages below are now captured and occupied by armed Fulani militia.
In Kachia local government area, the statement gave the names of the communities as Chikwale, Idum, Muruchi, Kwasau Legede, Kafeyawa, Amale, Chikwale, Unguwan Pa, Gidan Sambo, Gidan Para, Unguwan Muruchi, Unguwan Dutse, Baware kasa, Gidan Duna, Sabon Gida Duna, Opase, Gidan Sunday, Gidan Yarima, Gidan Auta, Bakin Garma, Gidan Ladan, Maigari, Gidan Wakili, Pago, Oshowodo, Gidan Peter, Ungwan pah, Koron Kurmin iya, Ungwan Gwari KurminIya and Rishi.
In Kajuru local government area, the statement gave the names of communities captured by suspected Fulanis as Kihoro-Libere, Bakin Kogi, Umiko,Magunguna, Idazo, Ungwan , Galadima, Ungwan Guza, Etiss, Ungwan Ma’aji, Ungwan Dantata, Ungwan Araha 1 & 2, Ungwan Goshi, Ungwan Shaban, Ungwan Jibo, Ungwan Maijama’a, Ungwan Sako, Ungwan Maidoki, Ungwan Masaba, Ungwan Makware, Edanu, Ungwan Mudi, Ungwan Rana, Ifele and Ungwan Gora.
In Chikun local government area, the villages affected are Kunai Ward, Kudo (Dau), Sunusi Dnakwala, Galu, Aguyita, Galuko, Galiwyi, Atopi, Onkoru, Anguwan, Badole, Manini, Hayin Damisa, Anguwan Nyako, Badimi, Gnashi, Sarari , Giji, Dnapagbe, Badimi, Shelbula, Rafin yashi, Sabongida, Rafinyashi, Anguwan, Amos Manini, Hayin Dakachi Manini, Madalla, Abon and Kawuya.
Others are Rumanan Gbagyi, Rumanan Hausa, Malamo, Labi, Hayin Kozo, Muya, Shuwaka, Polwaya, Kaguru, Kasko, Nasarawa Kaguru e Dabbara Kaguru.
The statement explained that as at 30th October, 2020, at least 100 communities scattered in four local government areas of Southern Kaduna have been displaced and taken over by armed Fulani militia unchallenged by the state even after repeated publication of what the statement described as “the impunity” to the government.
It said that there are at least 50,000 IDPs living in several camps in Southern Kaduna and with relations, saying that their villages are either too unsafe to return or have been taken over by Fulani militia.
The Sourhern Kaduna union called on the International Community, human rights organizations, men and women of honor and conscience to help mount pressure on Kaduna State and the federal governments to restore these people back to their homes. The Kaduna State governor Nassir Elryfai also showed no regards to the diversity of the citizens of that multi religious State by appointing a Moslem depury governor. The Speaker of Kaduna house of Assembly is a Moslem just as the chief judge is also a Moslem. So the Governor has failed to stop the incessant killings of Sourhern Kaduna Christians. The Kaduna State governor is Fulani Moslem same as all the armed Fulani herdsmen, bandits and terrorists terrorizing Southern Kaduna Christians.
Also, recently, the Benue State governor had confrontations with the Fulani born governor of Bauchi State Bala Mohammed over a statement made by Bala Muhammed justifying the illegal possession of AK- 47 guns by armed Fulani herdsmen.
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom on had accused his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed, of being a terrorist based on his utterances supporting herdsmen from carrying AK-47 to defend themselves.
Governor Ortom who made this accusation while addressing journalists in Makurdi, Benue State capital said Governor Mohammed must be a terrorist for supporting illegal arms wielding by foreign herdsmen.
“I wouldn’t want to be joining issues with my brother, friend, and colleague Bauchi Governor. But since he has continued to vilify, intimidate and blackmail me. It is said that silence is consent. I am compelled to respond to him.
“I am beginning to think that my brother, the governor of Bauchi State is part of the terrorist Fulani organisation that is terrorising this country.
“Why do I say this? This is the same governor who took the oath of office to protect the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This constitution does not leave room for allowing foreign herdsmen to come in without valid papers.
“This is a man who says that a Fulani man is a global man and can come in from anywhere and enter Nigeria. It is quite disappointing to hear a governor who took the oath of office …maybe he should go back and check the oath of office he took to check maybe the constitution gives room for foreign terrorist Fulani herdsmen to come into Nigeria,” Ortom said.
He also reacted to Governor Mohammed’s statement which says herders can carry AK-47 to defend themselves noting that “his recent outburst that Fulani herdsmen are justified for carrying AK-47 to protect themselves. I don’t know where the constitution of this country allows that.”
The Benue Governor therefore called on Governor Mohammed to render an unreserved apology and learn from the provisions of the constitution that, land both territorial, forest, and aquatic, are vested on the governor of a state who holds them in trust, instead of indulging in inciting Fulani herdsmen against innocent Nigerians.
For over a Months, the Benue and Bauchi GOVERNORS exchanged hot disagreements but the Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike who is a lawyer married to a high Court’s Judge said he had reconciled the warring governors of Bauchi and Benue.
But even with this cosmetic reconciliation, the Fulani interest groups such as the MIYETTI ALLAH OFFICIALS continued to attack the Benue State governor and threatening his life. Weeks after, they made good these threats to kill the Benue State governor but missed him by whiskers. Samuel Ortom told us that he ran over a thousand kilometres to escape the rain of bullets shot at his convoys by the armed terrorists of the Fulani specie.
However, the bad State of security has snowballed into a bigger conflagration to such an extent that governor Ortom of Benue State almost got killed barely weeks after he had very public spat with the Bauchi State Governor and has been consistently blacklisted to be harmed by the Miyetti Allah cattle owners club which enjoys protection and patronage from the central government. The head of this MIYETTI ALLAH enjoys 24/7 police protection by the alleged operatives of the Department of States Services, an agency headed by another Fulani. And so the man at the MIYETTI ALLAH talks with so much gusto and arrogance as if he is even more powerful than the President Muhammadu Buhari.
True to the numerous threats, the Benue governor came face to face with the killer squad of the armed herdsmen when he was travelling from his home town near Gboko to his state capital of Makurdi.
This incident as I said followed a systematic trajectory of public threats made to him by Miyetti Allah who said he is an enemy of the Fulani ethnicity for using the instrument of the law to ban open grazing of cattle in Benue State.
Soon after, a bunch of persons made sensational claim in the media as the group behind the attacks. This Fulani group is not amorphous. The people behind the dangerous group appear on the media space often so they are not anonymous but they are above the law as far as the current administration is concerned. The administration has not hidden her disposition to advance the parochial and pedestrian interests of the Fulani ETHNIC group.
But of course these persons who are leaders of Miyetti Allah cow dealers are treated as sacred cows by the Federal Government. They are above the law and so can not be arrested or prosecuted.
This sacrilege of the constitution is indeed the lowest point Nigeria has reached.
Just before this high profile security breach by the armed Fulani herdsmen on the life of the governor of Benue State, Nigerians from all walks of life had loudly called on the relevant security heads in Nigeria to expose the sponsors of the violence by the herdsmen and to uncover the sources of the weapons they wield openly and have branched off into kidnapping banditry and terrorism. Many schools have been invaded. They invaded the Kaduna international airport. They invaded the Jos airport. They boldly appear on the media with their spokesman the Kaduna based Moslem Cleric Sheikh GUMI but he is above the law under President Muhammadu Buhari.
A group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has told Directorate of State Services (DSS) that the agency was not statutorily established to act as “national alarmist or town criers” but for ensuring the security of the nation.
HURIWA wondered why prominent northerners, including Katsina and Zamfara states governors and Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Dr. Ahmed Gumi, have had an open interface with armed northern bandits but DSS is yet to arrest suppliers of those sophisticated weapons being displayed openly during such publicised parleys.
In a statement, HURIWA said: “We suspect that there are vested interests supplying these weapons of mass destruction to armed Fulani herders also known as armed Northern bandits who have taken control of most forests across the country. There may be a game plan to put pressure on the Federal Government to set up an amnesty office for the soon to be declared repentant bandits to take the shape of the Niger Delta Amnesty office to create jobs for the boys now well-armed.
“We wonder why DSS has yet to catch up with sponsors of these bandits but are often inundating the public space with irritating alarms as if it has become the ‘village town criers’. Is this why Nigerian public spend billions of public cash to maintain that once professionally excellent security institution? Please the DSS should be operated in line with the law setting it up so all the suppliers of weapons to armed non-state actors, especially the armed Fulani herders attacking communities in the country through the forests are arrested, prosecuted and sanctioned to save Nigeria from the imminent war of ethnicities”.
The human rights advocacy group recalled that Gumi, on Tuesday, visited some bandits in the forests of Shinkafi and Gummi local government areas of Zamfara State, even as the cleric was reported to have gone to another forest at Makkai, where he and his entourage met with more than 600 bandits with automatic rifles. Their top commander, one Kachalla Turji, welcomed the Sheikh.
Despite these strident calls, the Federal government is hell bent on undermining and sabotaging national security. This is because the whole architectures of Internal Security in Nigeria under the Fulani born President Muhammadu Buhari are headed by Fulani and /or Hausa moslem Northerners. The offices of Director General of Department of State services (DSS); Comptrollers of customs, Immigration, Civil Defence and office of the Inspector General of Police and the military Generals controlling Army Navy and National Intelligent Agency are all Northern Moslems.
Could nepotism be responsible for the willful incapacitation of the entire internal security machinery of Nigeria to the naked extent that the governor of Benue State was almost killed?
Mind you, Benue is the state of Tivs who are the largest minority ethnic Nationality in Nigeria. Benue is also a state of Idomas and Egedes who are mostly security operatives.
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, the minority leader of the Senate has just written a book titled “made in Aba” and in it, he alluded to the fundamentals of the spectacular security breaches and blamed incompetence of the National leaders as the origin of the security fiasco sort of.
Here are what exactly he wrote on page 147 of this classic: “David Owen, in his book: Bush, Blair and the Intoxication of Power, encapsulates this phenomenon as the Hubris Syndrome. According to him, the ill-equipped leader brings to being, a situation where he finds that there is no real challenge to his capacity to deliver on the expectations of the office he has assumed. He degenerates into a temporary personality disorder, as exposure to thrills of power progresses. The syndrome manifests in impetuosity, a refusal to listen to or take advice.”
“The person, as a consequence, exhibits a form of impulsivity, recklessness and frequent inattention to detail. Shoddy and haphazard execution becomes visible in projects undertaken under such a person’s watch. The anyhowness prevalent in governance in Nigeria at the moment, is attributable to years and years of condoning such inept attitude to Governance”
From a Harvard Business Review titled: “On making Smart decisions,” the writers gave us a deeper reason why the quality of governance can deteriorate when there is a lack of the competence and political will to make smart decisions.
They wrote that DECISION MAKING LIES AT THE heart of our personal and professional lives. Every day we make decisions. Some are small, domestic, and innocuous. Others are more important, affecting people’s lives, livelihoods, and well-being. Inevitably, we make mistakes along the way. The daunting reality is that enormously important decision made by intelligent, responsible people with the best information and intentions are sometimes hopelessly flawed.”
“Consider Jürgen Schrempp, CEO of Daimler-Benz. He led the merger of Chrysler and Daimler against internal opposition. Nine years later, Daimler was forced to virtually give Chrysler away in a private equity deal. Steve Russell, chief executive of Boots, the UK drugstore chain, launched a health care strategy designed to differentiate the stores from competitors and grow through new health care services such as dentistry. It turned out, though, that Boots managers did not have the skills needed to succeed in health care services, and many of these markets offered little profit potential.”
Continuing, the Havard Business Review affirmed that: “The strategy contributed to Russell’s early departure from the top Job. Brigadier General Matthew Broderick, chief of the Homeland Security Operations Center, who was responsible for alerting President Bush and other senior government officials if Hurricane Katrina breached the levees in New Orleans, went home on Monday, August 29, 2005, after reporting that they seemed to be holding, despite multiple reports of breaches.”
“All these executives were highly qualified for their jobs, and yet they made decisions that soon seemed clearly wrong. Why? And more important, how can we avoid making similar mistakes.”
In analyzing how it is that good leaders made bad judgments, Harvard Business review said: “We found they were affected in all cases by three factors that either distorted their emotional tags or encouraged them to see a false pattern. We call these factors “red flag conditions.”
Here is where i think President Muhammadu Buhari gets it wrong with the security strategy since coming to office nearly six years now. The Harvard business review wrote as follows: “The first and most familiar red flag condition, the presence of inappropriate self-interest, typically biases the emotional importance, we place on information, which in turn makes us readier to perceive the patterns we want to see. Research has shown that even well-intentioned professionals, such as doctors and auditors, are unable to prevent self-interest from biasing their judgments of which medicine to prescribe or opinion to give during an audit”.
President Muhammadu Buhari is also guilty here. The researchers said: “The second, somewhat less familiar condition is the presence of distorting attachments. We can become attached to people, places, and things, and these bonds can affect the judgments we form about both the situation we face and the appropriate actions to take. The reluctance executives often feel to sell a unit they’ve worked in nicely captures the power of inappropriate attachments.”
The final red flag condition says Harvard business review is the presence of misleading memories.
“These are memories that seem relevant and comparable to the current situation but lead our thinking down the wrong path. They can cause us to overlook or undervalue some important differentiating factors, as Matthew Broderick did when he gave too little thought to the implications of a hurricane hitting a city below sea level. The chance of being misled by memories is intensified by any emotional tags we have attached to the past experience. If our decisions in the previous similar experience worked well, we’ll be all the more likely to overlook key differences. (HBR’S 10 Must Reads On Making Smart Decisions By Daniel Kahneman, Dan Lovallo, And Olivier Sibony).
Ironically, President Muhammadu Buhari has no political will to end the security fiasco happening right under his watch and carried out by persons who share same ethnic and religious beliefs and affinities and who are carrying on with these violence only because the relevant security Architectures that ought to stop them are also headed by their kinsman due to nepotism. But now that the rich have started crying over the collapsing national security, may be, just may be, both the rich and the poor, the oppressed and their now ‘disadvantaged oppressors ‘ such as the Governor of Benue State, may mobilise to check the dangerous trends or simply do nothing and watch the house collapse right on top of their empty big heads. The choice is for us all to make.
*EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and was a federal commissioner at the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria.