President Buhari, during the retreat for ministers and top government officials this week, revealed that back in April 2018, the United States President accused his government of killing Christians. He admitted that it was a difficult spot, but continued,
“I believe I was about the only African amongst the least developed countries that the President of the United States invited; and when I was in his office, he looked me in the face and said, “Why are you killing Christians?”
“The problem between cattle-rearers and stagnant farmers, is older than me, not to talk of him (Trump), because I think I’m a couple of years older than him. And there was climate change and population growth.
“I tried to explain to him that it has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing…”
“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any route to your water point, and they will follow it—it doesn’t matter whose farm it is.
Is Violence The Answer?
Through the years, socio and geo-political tensions have tortured Nigeria’s government. From a civil war in the 90’s, decades of corrupt military dictatorship, religious strife, and political uprisings, to a corrupt political and ruling class: there has always been an underlying distrust between the major inter-ethnic groups in Nigeria.
Recently, these tensions have taken a new dimension—bloody clashes between Fulani herdsmen and nomadic farmers. The so-called Fulani Herdsman have had cause to terrorize farming communities, resolving to forces like maiming and killing, to get what they came for.
In this case—water and grazing land for their cattle. Because of severe changes in climate, scarce water, and reduction in grazing fields, cattle herders have veered further south. For the past six months, these clashes have been widespread and violent, taking place in Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, and more recently, Ekiti State.
As Newsweek reports, crop farmers produce at least 80 percent of Nigeria’s food. Apart from that, farmers also constitute the bedrock of Nigeria’s informal economy. The farming sector also stands as the country’s highest employer of labour. You would agree with me that we are placing this country’s lifeblood into the hands of dangerous men, who have no care for human life.
What, Then, Is The Government Doing?
In truth, the bases for President Trump’s accusations are well-founded and not any effort to create misinformation. We all know that the Northern Fulani are Muslim, while the Southern farming community is predominantly Christian.
Tensions of this kind often fuel suspicion of the ulterior motive to transform Nigeria into a Muslim state. In effect, this has a security dimension that is exploited as we speak. There is already a perception that because the president is Muslim and Fulani, he has granted the herdsmen immunity. Why wouldn’t Trump ask such a bold question?
The government has met various calls-to-action from citizens with tepidity, a lack of resolve, and at best—condolence messages on Twitter. We expect that the government formulate a combination of policy options rooted in innovation, as well as political sustainability. If taken with levity, this could very well create a crises rival to Boko-Haram insurgency—if that has not already happened.
Do pray for the peace of this nation, for it is ours. We must do what we can to ensure its survival and necessary harmony.