In recent times, so many Nigerians have taken to Facebook, posting, commenting, and debating what they call the influx of Fulani herdsmen into southeastern states, using their cattle to graze farmlands and in the process killing farmers and villagers who protest the destruction of their farmlands and crops by these herdsmen. With AK-47. It used to be poisonous bows and arrows when we were kids. Now they are getting sophisticated.
The pictures of these killings are as gory as they are grotesque. The narration of the carnage and the pictures of helpless villagers fleeing their village as these herdsmen sack their villages are soul touching. And understandably, the outrage and the anger directed at the federal government of Nigeria over its inability to protect vulnerable Nigerians from fellow countrymen who are carrying out evil deeds against them are justified. Who in his right mind would stand by and watch their farmlands, which they spent energy, time, and most especially money to cultivate being destroyed by nomadic cattlemen. And just do nothing? And what sane neighbor or relative will sit idly and watch errant cattlemen overrun their kin who has the right to at the least protest the invasion of their farmland. As they they hacked to death?
In my analysis of these occurrences, I initially differed from most compatriots on who to place the blame on for the insecurity of lives and properties in the southeastern states where these Fulani herdsmen are perpetuating evil. To me, the governors and the local government chairmen or mayors of the affected states and local governments are the chief security officers of their various states and localities. It is their responsibility therefore, not only to rule their own people, but to also provide them with security. So if there is a breakdown of security or lawlessness, the mayors and the governors should be held responsible for such. They are the ones that has failed their people, and not President Buhari. But then I met Honorable Kwande Suleiman, an honorable member of the Federal House of Representatives in Nigeria and he reminded me that the federal system of government as practiced in Nigeria is completely different from what is obtained here in the United States. And that is what has incapacitated the governors from carrying out both their moral and constitutional duties of securing the lives and properties of their people from the invading Fulanis.
For example, here in the United States, every locality, every city, and every state have their own law enforcement units. Independent of federal government control. You have the county sheriffs, you have the city police departments, and you have the state troopers. They are all under local and state control and they serve their various communities within the state. But in Nigeria, the police are federalized. Only the president has control over them. In this instance, President Buhari. And a state governor, who is supposed to be the chief security officer of his own state does not have control over the commissioner of police that works within his state. The governor cannot give orders to the police commissioners. Furthermore, here in the United States, we have what we call the national guard, which is the reserve component of the U.S. military but which is under dual control of the states and the federal government. In emergency situations, the governor(s) of the affected state(s) of the union reserves the authority to call out the national guard to safeguard lives and properties and maintain order. In Nigeria, even though we have at least a military barracks in almost every state of the federation, the state governors do not have power over the garrison commanders and does not give them orders. So for a governor whose tools to secure lives and properties within his state are the police which he does not have power over, and or the military which he cannot give orders to do, how then can he protect his own?
But is that truly the case?
I lived in Nigeria for 25 years. I lived through several election cycles and I participated actively in most of them. And I saw firsthand how governors, local government chairmen, and even individuals of influence, USED, not only the regular police and their paramilitary unit (popularly called mobile police), but also the military, to rig elections, to harass their political opponents, and many a times to indiscriminately kill youths who did not support their political aspirations. So if state governors and local government chairmen in southeastern states can call out these law enforcement agents to do their bidding, to help them secure political power, whether they bribed their commanders or however they pulled it off, now that they have the power, nothing stops them from calling out these law enforcement agents again, this time to protect the governed. Or is the security of lives and properties of the governed not worth it?
Continue reading “THE FULANI HERDSMEN AND SECURITY DILEMMA IN NIGERIA”