A founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the current Tor Sankera 1, Chief Abu King Shuluwa, has written President Muhammadu Buhari for asking Benue people to accommodate killer herdsmen.
Shuluwa, who is speaking for the first time since the attacks began in Benue State, noted that Buhari’s home state, Kastina had enough land that could accommodate his kinsmen.
Buhari had during a meeting with Benue elders begged them to accommodate their brothers – herdsmen.
According to Buhari, “Your Excellency, the governor, and all the leaders here, I am appealing to you to try to restrain your people. I assure you that the Police, the Department of State Service and other security agencies had been directed to ensure that all those behind the mayhem get punished.
“I ask you in the name of God to accommodate your country men. You can also be assured that I am just as worried, and concerned with the situation.’’
Reacting, however, Shuluwa said Benue does not have enough land to accommodate herdsmen.
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His letter reads.
His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari,
President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and
Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria,
Presidential Villa-Aso Rock,
Abuja – Nigeria.
I take this opportunity to wish you a positively eventful 2018 and a less stressful year for all Nigerians, Your Excellency.
Reference is here made to the meeting between Mr. President and the delegation of Benue Leaders on the 14th January, 2018 which was not only timely but vital, as it afforded both sides the opportunity to discuss the wicked, inhuman, barbaric and senseless killings by the terrorists who have been parading themselves as Fulani Herdsmen.
It can be viewed as successful because, it gave the Benue Leaders delegation the opportunity to voice out their minds face to face with the President. Led by Governor Ortom, the leaders confidently and consciously expressed their staunch and strident opposition to the proposed establishment of “Cattle Colonies”, a project whose meaning is yet to be understood and known by many Nigerians. Being an agricultural state that produces food for the nation, the Governor strongly warned that the ceding of any piece of land for the doubtful project will make the state lose its identity as a Food Basket of the Nation, because the land available is not even enough for the farmers.
All those who spoke at the meeting advanced so many reasons why the policy has no basis and the President should have a rethink on the proposal which will cause more harm than good to the nation. Governor Ortom also drew the attention of the President to the recent threats by Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association Leadership to the effect that, Benue should expect more bloodshed because of its opposition to open-grazing by Fulani herdsmen.
In what appeared dramatic, confusing, humourless and very disheartening, the President who said, he is waiting for the reports from the Inspector-General of Police and the Minister of Interior ended up telling the delegation (instead of empathizing or promising to go after the culprits) to go and be more “Accommodating to their compatriots or fellow countrymen”.
This was not only shocking but, was seen as unreasonable and insensitive, considering the genocide the Fulani herdsmen are perpetrating on Nigerians generally and Benue State in particular.
The President instead of assuaging the grieving Benue delegation, deemed it more appropriate to carelessly disregard their pain with such an utterance not minding the negative effects. Sadly as if his remark was not insensitive enough, he did not even comment on the reported recent threats by the Miyetti Allah leadership and their sponsors.
Furthermore, the President’s remarks sounded as if it were an indirect criticism to the anti-open grazing law passed by the Benue State Legislature. In all, the President’s subtle remark sounded like a classic case of blaming the victim while advocating for and exonerating the offender. This kind of stand by a “Father/Leader” makes it very difficult for same to fairly adjudicate or deal decisively between feuding children.
It is obvious that, the President is being misled by some of his Security Aides on the Benue situation. This much is not surprising based on the fact that, many of them are more interested in their selfish desires. Otherwise, how can the Chief of Army Staff; National Security Adviser, Minister of Defense, Chief of Air Staff, Director-General State Security Services; Inspector-General of Police; Director-General National Intelligence Agency; Minister of Interior and Commandant General of Civil Defense, all be unable to see what other Nigerians are seeing? Curiously, it does appear as if they are more sympathetic to the Fulani herdsmen cause to the detriment of the bigger Nigerian population. The import of this piece is to call the President’s attention to note the following political developments in the State and change his misconception about our Tiv hospitality. Indeed to note that Tiv hospitality does not mean atheism, weakness or ignorance.
His Excellency, is here reminded of the Tiv hospitality as follows. In the First Republic, Alhaji Ibrahim Imam won election in the then Benue Province to represent Jembgbagh Constituency in the Northern House of Assembly. Imam a Kanuri man from Borno Province was the first Secretary of Northern Peoples’ Congress who later disagreed with the Sardauna, Sir Ahmadu Bello and left the party for Borno Youth Movement. In what was perceived as an attempt to disrespect the Northern Feudal Lords, Alhaji Imam was witch-haunted by the powers that be, who saw him as a deviant.
To his credit, Chief J.S. Tarka took Ibrahim Imam and brought him to Benue Province and gave him an adopted Tiv name of “Iwarwar Gatie”.
He was overwhelmingly voted for by the Tiv people (in their hospitality, understanding and spirit of justice and fair play) into the Northern House of Assembly under the platform of UMBC. The Party had already nominated Mr. Mbaaka Indyorhwer (a Tiv indigene) who was to return to the house for a second term but, was peacefully replaced by Alhaji Imam on the orders of J.S. Tarka who was desirous of humanizing the displaced Borno politician.
In the general election, Imam defeated a Tiv man, Mr. Chia Surma who contested under the NCNC, as the Jemgbagh people overwhelmingly voted for the former against their kit and kin. (Iwarwar is particular specie of grass that germinates everywhere and the name implied that apart from Borno, Iwarwar can still germinate in Gatie, a settlement in Jemgbagh land where Imam became indigenous).
During the Second Republic, Governor Aper Aku influenced the choice of Alhaji Danladi Umaru as the Chairman of NPN in Katsina-Ala Local Government Area of Benue State. In the same vein, Alhaji Usman Abdallah was elected under NPN to represent Nyamatsor Constituency of then Gboko Local Government in the Benue State House of Assembly.
He was voted for against a Tiv man. In the Abacha ill-fated transition, Hon. Titus Madugu who was elected Chairman of Makurdi Local Government on nonparty basis handed over to Alhaji Abu Kanti Maikyekye when he (Madugu) resigned to seek reelection. The position could easily have been given to another Tiv son, but it was given to Abu Kanti. How else can a people be more Accommodating? The hospitality, understanding, love for justice and fair play of the Tiv people must not be misconstrued for weakness, ignorance and naivety.
The Hausa/Fulani people have greatly benefited from the popularly acclaimed Tiv hospitality. In addition to the positions enumerated above, they have gotten and still have several other juicy positions in the State Civil Service. It is doubtful if such gestures have been replicated in Katsina State, the President’s home state or any part of the far Northern States of the Federation, inspite of the hardworking, loyal, committed and detribalized nature of the Tiv people.
I have chosen to bring this to your attention Mr. President because, “in an unjust society silence is a crime”. If our refusal to accept “Cattle Colonies”, “GRA” or whatever it is called has earned us the status of being an “Unaccommodating People” by the President, then it means you are indirectly telling the world that you value cows more than human beings, as Hon. Aishatu Duku of the House of Representatives (NASS) clearly stated on the floor of the house on worldwide TV.
Your Excellency, you have always been considered by Nigerians as an honest, prudent, just and a disciplined leader. It is based on these that you were overwhelmingly so voted.
However, Your Excellency, your utterance, silence, actions and inactions seem to corroborate a special preconceived mindset, understanding, default reflex and impulse that is characteristic of an ethnic defender/champion rather than a Statesman/Chief Security Officer of a nation made up of many nationalities.
Even as you Yourself stated that, you take your time to think over issues in order to get a clear conscience before acting, I urge you to consider that taking actions over issues when the victims become corpses does not help the “Living”. There’s too much grieving (tears) in Benue State under your watch Sir. People can only positively contribute to your good ideas/policies for a better Nigeria when they are alive and healthy.
Mr. President please, look outside your enamored inner circle to get the real truth of the security situation (around the country and Benue State in particular) and other equally challenging issues and act before the situations degenerate further.
I urge you to be more proactive on these crises which seem to pose a great threat to our corporate existence as a nation.