Washington DC, May 13, 2019 (CABNC-TV) – Inasmuch as some individuals and groups are bent on painting Nigeria as a country on the verge of genocide, the facts on ground are to the contrary. Nigeria as a country has had its fair share of internal crisis for decades. These challenges are not unique to the current administration in the country, neither are they unique to Nigeria alone. However, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is doing its best to salvage the situation which was largely a result from the inaction of previous administrations.
President Muhammadu Buhari says most instances of inter-communal and inter-religious strife and violence were and are still being sponsored or incited by ethnic, political or religious leaders. President Buhari stated this during his Nigerian Democracy Day June 12, 2019 held at the country’s federal capital territory Abuja, Nigeria.
The Nigerian Government acknowledges that there have been several unfortunate Boko Haram/ ISWAP attacks on innocent Nigerians around the North Eastern parts of Nigeria since 2008.
While it is important for the experiences of affected person to be discussed widely with a view to finding durable solutions to these problems, it is also very crucial to put the incidents in their proper context. The usual allegations of government complicity, Islamisation campaign or targeted attack of innocent Christians are false and misleading. Opposition parties in Nigeria and their supporters have found it convenient to portray President Buhari as an Islamic fundamentalist, later Boko Haram sympathiser and a hater of Christians. But none of these is true. Rather, the historical antecedents clearly suggest otherwise.
President Buhari’s first stint in office as a military Head of State was his crackdown on the Maitasine sect, which is a precursor of Boko Haram. Also, every time the President contested in an election, he had always chosen a southern Christian as his running mate, consistently maintaining very good and longstanding relations with all of them. During his inauguration as a civilian President, he never left his position in any doubt when he described Boko Haram as “a mindless, godless group who are as far away from Islam as one can think of.” He and other prominent Northern Muslim leaders were victims of Boko Haram attack. The Emir of Kano late Ado Bayero and the current President were attacked by elements of Boko Haram in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Shekau had personally threatened Buhari who he referred to as an Infidel.
The President has since resumption in office, diligently pursued the fight against Boko Haram. Between 2016 and 2017, the Global Terrorism Index indicated that the number of deaths caused by Boko Haram in Nigeria dropped by 80%. Actually, in 2015, over 17 Local Government Areas in North East Nigeria were under Boko Haram occupation and control. Major cities like Abuja, Kaduna and Kano were under the threat of frequent Boko Haram attacks.
LEAH SHARIBU AND THE DAPCHI GIRLS
It is on record that, the Ex. Senate President Bukola Saraki donated 20% of severance pay to Leah SHARIBU’s Family. The unfortunate insurgency of the Boko Haram sect has been with in Nigeria for a while. The abduction of the Dapchi Schoolgirls, which is specifically slated for discussion, also has an unfortunate antecedent. In April 2014, two hundred and seventy-six (276) school girls were similarly abducted from the Chibok Community in Borno State (now popularly referred to as the Chibok Girls). This incident occurred under Ex. President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian.
It was the Buhari led Administration that eventually embarked on concrete negotiations for the release of the Chibok girls, and they turn out to be quite difficult and long drawn out. The girls were actually held by two different faction of Boko Haram. Between 2016 and 2017, one hundred and seven (107) of the girls were eventually recovered by this Administration. Till now, close to 100 of the Chibok girls, mostly Christians like Leah Sharibu, are yet to be found.
However, in the case of the Dapchi girls, which happened in February 2018 under the Buhari administration, one hundred and ten (110) girls were kidnapped from their school dormitory. All but five of them have since been recovered. Most unfortunately, of the five, four girls, all Muslims, are feared dead; killed by their captors. Only Leah Sharibu survived and government has been doing everything possible, trying day by day, to get her returned to her family. There is no relenting on this crucial effort.
There have been clashes between farmers and herders, especially in the North Central Region, which have similarly affected innocent Nigerians. The farmers-herders clashes have a very long history in Nigeria. They are disputes precipitated simply by scarcity of resources, especially pasture. The escalation we are now seeing began around 2000, due to climate change and increasing desertification. Between 1999 and 2015, and before the advent of the Buhari Administration, no less than 13 of such major clashes occurred. Unfortunately, they were left unresolved, despite the displacement of tens of thousands from their homes. Indeed, before 2015, the clashes had claimed the lives of thousands in Benue, Plateau, Taraba and Adamawa States.
The predominantly Muslim Fulani herders generally move around the North during the rainy season, but as the dry season sets in, they begin to migrate southwards in search of suitable grazing areas for their cattle. Quite inevitably, this brings them into conflicts with the predominantly sedentary farmers of the middle belt and southern parts of Nigeria, many of whom are Christians. It is important to emphasise that not all herdsmen in Nigeria are Muslims, and not all farmers are Christians. It is also noteworthy that similar trends are obvious in other African States like Mozambique, Tanzania, Ghana, Mali and Kenya.
Similarly, serious clashes have occurred between Fulanis and Hausas in Zamfara and other northern States, despite the fact that the opposing groups are predominantly Muslim. In all these cases, Government interference has been even handed and there can be no suggestion of government agencies siding with one side or the other.
In an effort to conclusively resolve these conflicts, under the aegis of the National Economic Council, all State Governors participated in meetings to brainstorm and find viable solutions to the grazing problem. This led to the development of a Livestock Transformation Plan under which ranches are to be developed across the country so that adequate provisions can be made for cattle breeding and taking adequate care of the herder families, including the provision of health and education facilities, of which they are often deprived. Provisions have also been made for the rehabilitation and protection of affected farmers, including housing reconstruction and relief materials for impacted communities. Special security forces have also been deployed to the most affected areas. All these measures explain the rapid de-escalation of these conflicts in the last few months.
It is also important to recall the underlying tensions between the two major religions which, under various regimes, whether Muslim and Christian, often led to violent clashes. Under various administrations including President Obasanjo’s tenure, (1999 to 2007), no less than 7 of such clashes occurred, including the ones in Kwara, Adamawa, Kaduna, Plateau and Borno States. General T.Y. Danjuma (Rtd), a Christian like Obasanjo was the defence Minister. The same trend continued up to date.
Since President Buhari took office in 2015, these and other incidents are often interpreted as a crusade against Christians, which is patently false. Again, it is important to recall that Sharia gained grounds in Nigeria for the first time under a Christian, President Olusegun Obasanjo. Nothing of the sort has happened under President Buhari. In fact, most of the clashes to which opponents point as evidence of Buhari’s Islamisation Agenda are quite indiscriminate in outlook.
It can be seen from the foregoing that sectional conflicts occur in Nigeria, as in other nations with diverse ethnic groups and religions. To resolve these conflicts, they must be well appreciated and properly interpreted in their true context. Unfortunately, the Nigerian situation has been much confused by opposition parties and others who seek to portray President Muhammadu Buhari as anti-Christian. And, the Prof. Yemi Osinbajo Vice President of Nigeria happens to be a Christian and a distinguished Pastor of Redeemed Christian Church in Nigeria.
To be Continued….
By: Paul Omorogbe,
CABNC & Writer for the Diaspora Today Magazine
Edited by: AbdulRasheed A. Abubakar, (Publisher of Diaspora Today Magazine)
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