Simba Group has said it will continue to promote National President of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr Bitrus Pogu, in this interview with JAMES ABRAHAM, explains consequences of the rising insecurity in the country
Are you comfortable with the security situation in the country?
Nobody in his right mind is comfortable with the security situation in this country, particularly somebody like me who is from Chibok community ,Borno State, North-East where killings, kidnapping for ransom, destruction of people’s homes and their farms have become a daily occurrence.
This thing(insecurity) started in the North-East and it has spread to the whole country and nobody is comfortable. Even people in Abuja where I am at the moment are not sleeping with their two eyes closed because nobody knows what is going to happen in the next minutes since Nasarawa State where Boko Haram insurgents are regrouping as confirmed recently by the state governor is just next door to Abuja.
The Southern Kaduna is also next door to Abuja. Travelling to Kogi State by is not safe.If you travel from Kaduna,the same thing. Everywhere has been infested with insecurity and knowing what is now happening in the South-West, unless the person is not a Nigerian, he cannot be comfortable with the security situation in Nigeria because nowhere is safe for the citizens.
Has government addressed the menace of the herdsmen sufficiently?
The government has always pampered the herdsmen from one attack after the other .Since the present administration came in, it appears the victims of these attacks are the ones the government goes after.
When these things were happening on a regular basis in Plateau State which then came to Benue State and then to Taraba and back to Plateau, Southern Kaduna besides similar happenings in the North East which have become normal issues the people had lived with, the response of the government and the Presidency have always been nothing affirmative with regard to the herdsmen.
For instance, when people were killed in large numbers in Benue State in 2018, we were surprised to hear the President making a statement telling the state governor and the people of Benue to learn to live with their neighbours.
How do you live with your killers?. So, this situation has continued even as the victims are usually arrested and no aggressors are not arrested. So, the whole thing is even skewed against the victims.
People are killed by the herdsmen, they are chased out of their houses, compounds, settlements, farms and forced to stay in IDP camps while the aggressors, the herdsmen move around freely.
You will see some with their cattle and others without them, but with weapons and nobody apprehends them.So,the government is seen by observers as actually creating the existence of the criminality of the herdsmen.
But when crime is committed and is not punished ,it surely continues and that is what is happening in the country because the herdsmen have not been punished nor the culprits arrested.
From the north, they have now gone to the South. So, the attitude of government has to change otherwise, the situation will continue unabated.
All over the country, herdsmen destroyed people’s farm, raped women and kidnapped. If all these are not checked, what are the likely implications?
Certainly, we are moving towards a scenario that played out in the Central African Republic when the indigenous people got fed up and rose up to the situation and dealt a blow to the Fulani.
The CAR experience is similar to the one in Nigeria. In CAR, the Fulani took over all key positions in government, the military and in other places and started doing what is happening now in Nigeria. Indigenous people got fed up, organised themselves and unleashed vengeance on the Fulani.
The story is now history but the Fulani were defeated and kicked out. The CAR is a small place compared with Nigeria in terms of population and the indigenes. If these things get to a level when Nigerians are totally fed up be it Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba and as it happening in Zamfara, Kastina; Middle Belt areas, the South South and the South-West, it will reach a stage where there will be a spontaneous response to the aggression and Fulani domination will be history. I would have loved them to reason and know that this the direction we are heading to.
But unfortunately, they think erroneously that they can achieve whatever they have set for themselves to achieve. It is rather unfortunate but what I can tell them is to listen to wise counsel because I can assure the Fulani and those who are herdsmen and unfortunate ones who are peace loving among them that the killer herdsmen are going to lead them to destruction.
that happens, they will lose everything. I only pray that they will listen to wise counsel and stop the ongoing criminality in the country.
In Ogun State, soldiers supervised herdsmen, from other countries whose animals were destroying people’s farms. And farmers that voiced opposition were beaten. Is this not an indication that the herdsmen have the backing of the Federal Government?
We in the Middle Belt have always cried and said that when they introduced the cattle colony or ruga or whatever the policy is called when Audu Ogbeh was the Minister of Agriculture ,we have always said that these herdsmen moving across our land are foreigners and not Nigerians.
At that time,we kicked against the whole exercise be it colony or ruga because we know our indigenous Fulani and if there has to be such a policy, it has to involve the people. And we made it clear that the best policy is ranching rather than practising some kind of 17th and 18th century mode of rearing cattle which creates conflicts.
But the Federal Government continued to push these policies that are not acceptable; that create conflicts and continue to be a thorn in the flesh of every other Nigerian. We believe that everything is being done to favour the Fulani and we continued telling the government that this thing will not work in the 21st century because the modern way of animal husbandry is ranching.
But the government refused and allowed these people to be roaming everywhere to create problems. Interestingly, the majority of those who roam around don’t even have cows. Those found in the forest, how many of them were found with herds of cattle? They come around and attack people,kill them and disappear into the bush.
Thereafter, the ones who have cattle now surface and occupy the place .So it is a premeditated attack which they carry out. We have said it before that it land grabbing and nothing else. If the government is not giving them backing, they wouldn’t be doing what they are doing successfully without getting apprehended all these while.