Rather than the greetings of happy New Year, the people of Tomatar, Umenge, and Akor villages in Guma, Ayilamo, Turan Ngambe-Tiev in Logo local government area of Benue were greeted with cries of agony, pain and loss.
From Numan to Barkin-Ladi and Riyom, from southern Kaduna to Awe and Doma in Nasarawa and then to Agatu, Logo and Guma in Benue, all the way through to Odukpani and then to Arochukwu, this group of malicious and murderous herdsmen have been acting out a genocide with complete contempt for human lives.
So much loss! Children have become orphans, women have become widows, mothers and fathers have become childless.
We have watched as the journey from the sanctuary of our homes to our place of productivity, be it farms or shops, have become treacherous routes and our places of safety have become our graves.
The lethal act of these herdsmen goes as far back as 2012 in Yogbo, Guma local government area, where no fewer than 30 women and children were killed. We also saw the 2016 killing of almost 2000 people in Aguta.
The herdsmen related death toll in Benue has grown to almost 3000 and no group has been brought to justice.
During the campaign, yourself and your running mate at the time visited Benue, and even identified with its people by dressing up in their local attire as you all fought for votes. But, the fact that the president or vice president did not deem it fit to attend the mass burial of 73 of its citizens, or even send a representative remains a mystery to me. That the people you swore to serve and protect are now placed second to the commerce of cattle rearing. Now a 4 hour drive from the capital has suddenly become a 3 week journey.
We have watched in complete stupor as the team of doctors and specialists, including the Hon. Minister of Health who was appointed to administer the health of over 180 million Nigerians, the Chief Medical Director of National Hospital, Abuja, and his team, among other experts, dropped all to attend to the ‘sacred cow’ who was in a coma after a motor bike accident. The same government, however, was too busy to send a delegation to mourn with the wailing wailers when they buried their loved ones. Or in the least, send medical help to the injured and dying in Benue.
Genocide is playing before our very eyes. These people are creeping into our communities and taking over, they are settling in communities that once belonged to the people of Benue. Cows are now roaming freely in places where children used to play.
Hatred, rage, anger, bitterness, vengefulness and other dangerous emotions are been sown and carelessly thrown around. They are fanned by malicious elements in the society and the government has failed to pay attention. This government has allowed all this negative feelings take root in an already agitated populace. A wise man said, “you sow the wind, you reap a whirlwind.”
The last line in the second stanza of the National Anthem could not express my opinion better; it speaks of “One Nation, bound in FREEDOM, PEACE AND UNITY”.
We can only be considered as one nation if we are bound by the tents of freedom, when everyone from all parts of the nation know they are free, then we will have peace and that peace will guaranty unity.
The interesting thing about unity is that, unity is one of those things that can never be forced. Like the young man who tells his father, “I may be sitting physically, but I am standing in my mind.” You cannot enforce unity. The people must choose unity.
How can you expect unity in a nation where agitators are arrested and harassed but the perceived injustice that caused the agitation is not addressed?
How can you expect unity in a nation where internationally recognized terrorists and murderers are protected by the government that was voted in by the victims?
How can you, Mr. President, expect unity in a country where murderers roam free and the victims who raise lamentations about their victimization are harassed by those sworn to protect them?
Mr. President, this is unacceptable. You are the president today because the North, South, East and West chose you. At your inauguration, you said, “I BELONG TO NOBODY.” We believed you. Your actions however, do not align with those declarations. Starting with your lopsided appointments to the military actions of your generals in the South-East and other parts of the country.
As the nation stands at the precipice of great division, suspicion, fear and accusations and counter-accusations, you are the umpire of this technical march. Your action or inaction will set you apart as the president who brought unity and kept us together proving your accusers wrong or forever shove you down in history as the Nigerian president that caused the greatest division in our country.
Whatever your decision Sir, history will remember!
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