Secretary-General of the Arewa Consultative Forum, the umbrella body of the North, Mr Anthony Sani, tells GODWIN ISENYO that those who claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari is tacitly supporting killer herdsmen should have their heads examined
Is President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, right to have said Miyetti Allah is another group like Afenifere and Ohanaeze Ndigbo?
I never read Mallam Garba Shehu’s comments which put Miyetti Allah on an even keel with the Afenefere and Ohanaeze to enable me to make an informed comment on the issue. But I guess he said that because Miyetti Allah is more or less an ethnic organisation reminiscent of Afenifere and Ohanaeze which are ethnic platforms per excellence. Mallam Garba Shehu may not be totally wrong in his comparison.
Is Miyetti Allah comparable to the ACF?
ACF and Miyetti Allah are not comparable in the sense that while ACF is an umbrella platform that accommodates all Northerners, irrespective of ethnicity and religion, Miyetti Allah is an ethnic organisation. ACF is not an ethnic organisation but a pressure group that also performs the roles of advocacy on issues that most Northerners share.
Will the talks the government is having with Miyetti Allah curb the spate insecurity in the country?
If the Miyetti Allah commands the confidence and loyalty of the majority of herdsmen across the nation, then the discussions can be beneficial to Nigeria. But if Miyetti Allah does not command the respect of most herdsmen, then the discussions will not be beneficial to Nigeria.
As for me, I do not want the herdsmen and farmers saga be given ethnic or religious coloration; lest such provides criminals the platforms to shield themselves and perpetrate crime, knowing full well it is difficult to prosecute people because ethnicity and religious issues are very sensitive.
I prefer the nation sees violent herdsmen and violent farmers who kill innocent people as criminals that they are. Such criminals must be treated as such by the authorities no matter who they are. Criminals, whether herdsmen or farmers or whoever, should be treated as criminals.
Both Afenifere and Ohanaeze said herdsmen have been declared as the fourth deadliest terrorist organisation in the world by the Global Terrorism Index. Is it right to tag these people a terrorist group?
If armed robbers, kidnappers and bandits, who terrorise innocent people could be regarded as terrorists, herdsmen who terrorise people are also terrorists and there is no difference.
Is it right to say Buhari is giving herdsmen tactical support against other people?
Anybody who posits that President Muhammadu Buhari gives herdsmen tacit support must have his head examined for insanity. Why would a President, who campaigned against insecurity across the land, turn around and encourage insecurity? To what end for God’s sake? I hope those who make such mindless allegations against Mr President are aware of the fact that the President has himself said the level of insecurity across the nation makes him the saddest leader in the world. Also, note the fact that Buhari’s district head in Daura has been kidnapped and is yet to be rescued.
I think the insecurity across the land is troubling the President a great deal, and he is doing his best to overcome the challenges. All Nigerians should come together and join hands to fight the criminals terrorising the people and make the country peaceful for development. We must unite against insecurity because fighting insecurity is a collective responsibility and should not be left for governments alone. Everybody must be involved in this.
Should amnesty be given to herdsmen who turn away from crime?
In all conflicts in the world, the victorious sides necessarily give amnesty to those who surrender. This is because it makes no sense not to give amnesty to those who surrender. After all, I do not think the aim of any war is to kill all the people from the other side.
In the same way, any side which participates in the conflicts by herdsmen and farmers and who decides to surrender by doing penance is entitled to amnesty and reintegration into society for normal life.
How do you want the insecurity in the country to be tackled?
The insecurity in the country suggests the country is at war with itself. As a result, there is the need to identify the underlying causes, especially if we consider that the insecurity differ from zone to zone. For examples, the challenges of kidnappings are not the same with those of banditry in the North-West which are different from conflicts by herdsmen and farmers and ethno-religious conflicts in the North-Central and southern Kaduna. If the underlying causes are identified, they will inform different strategies and approaches that are peculiar to different situations. This is because applying the same strategy for all the security challenges can be likened to a situation where one believes because he has the hammer, then, all challenges must be nails. I believe to overcome the insecurity in the country would require lot of resources which are currently scarce.
Source: The Punch