Recent killings by herdsmen in Benue could have been avoided if the presidency was up to its job.
You could have touched the déjà vu engulfing the square with a felt pen. As speaker after speaker mounted the rostrum, the cries rang and echoed. For the umpteenth time, Benue was being draped in sackcloth and ashes.
And yet all of this could have been avoided.
At least Benue Governor Samuel Ortom said as much. He had forewarned the President Buhari led federal government that the blood thirsty herdsmen, kicking against his anti-open grazing legislation, were going to fight back.
And they did.
On January 1, 2018, killer herdsmen invaded communities around Benue and slit the throats of dozens.
Ortom said; "Let me be frank. The federal government has not done enough. When this incidence started with the threat from the president and secretary of Miyetti Allah, Kauta Hore, who addressed a press conference and issued threats that they will do everything possible to frustrate the Benue State Government from implementing the anti-open grazing law, we quickly drew the attention of the Inspector General of Police, the Director General of the Department of State Services, DSS, and even the office of the National Security Adviser.
"The leadership of Miyetti Allah called the law names; that it was draconian and had no place in the 21st century. We saw that as a threat to our existence and in June 2016, we reported to the then acting president (Prof. Yemi Osinbajo) and to our surprise, these people were not apprehended.
“We specifically demanded that the two officers of the Miyetti Allah, the secretary and the president, be arrested, but unfortunately, they were not arrested. I do not know why the Federal Government has abandoned us. If they had acted that time, we would not have gotten to where we are today”.
Days after the mass murders, Buhari invited Ortom over and made a show of deploying troops to Benue. But it was too little, too late. The stable door was being bolted long after the horse had fled.
“We have all failed the victims. We have all failed to provide protection to women and children and the elderly victims of this attack”, said Martins Ejidike, a Human Rights Advisor of the UN, as tears drenched the IBB Square in Makurdi.
Let it be known that Buhari and the rest of his presidency failed the people of Benue and other victims of herdsmen attacks across Nigeria, when they were most needed.
Because we didn't have to bury 73 members of our families this week. We really didn't need to. Where action was needed, customary inertia from the authorities seized the day.