Monday, 22 January 2018

Herdsmen killings: I suspect prejudice against Fulani ethnic groups by some political persons - Comrade Odeyemi

Comrade Oladimeji Odeyemi is the Convener of the Coalition of Civil Society Groups Against Terrorism in Nigeria (COCSAT). 

He is also a member of Global Agenda Against Terrorism and a columnist with African Journal on Terrorism, published in the United States. He speaks on the episodes of killings by herdsmen, Victor Ogunyinka brings excerpts:
What can you say about the security issues in Nigeria at the moment?
Well, President Muhammadu Buhari is a leader who has attested in words and deeds that the security of lives and properties of Nigerians anywhere they reside in the country is paramount and non-negotiable.
I seriously sympathise with the good people of Benue State on the unfortunate incidences, my heart also goes out to the families and associates of the victims.
Don’t you think, this administration has relapsed, in its effort considering the renewed cases of attacks, particularly those involving suspected Fulani Herdsmen, which record shows, have been on an increase, over the past few months?
You see, there is a misconception and an apparent misleading of realities as regards the Fulani pastoralist and the criminal murderous gang perpetuating this heinous crimes. I am begging to suspect a prejudice against the Fulani ethnic groups by some political persons.
You see, I am a Yoruba man, and I’ll not subscribe to a criminalisation of my ethnic nationality by anyone. While I’m not holding brief, for one or two criminal elements that might be Fulani or any other ethnic nationality, most of the political commentators on this issues, should not easily forget the frequent orgies of killings of Fulani pastoralist and cattle rustling in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina and Birni Gwari.
How best, do you think the incessant issue of farmers/herdsmen clashes and attacks allegedly being carried by suspected Fulani herdsmen can be addressed?
First, we call for an end to all forms of political gimmicks in handling the insecurities currently raving these states. The federal government and the various states must also look at the immediate possibility of assisting these thousands of pastoralists with grazing reserves and ranches that can enhance crisis-free grazing culture, in the country. This must be seen as an issue of urgent national importance.
Recently, the Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai, announced the release of some detained Boko Haram militants, claiming that these released individuals are fit to be reintegrated back into the society, having successfully undergone a process of de-radicalization, don’t you consider, as another threat to the war on the Boko Haram insurgency?
This is not an alien practice, and all over the world, the real approach towards defeating terrorism has always been the ability to win the psychological aspect of the war rather than the combats. I am of the opinion, that the Nigerian Army leadership, under General Tukur Buratai deserves commendations, for not limiting its approach towards winning the war against insurgency, to military warfare alone, but that it has also embarked on a mass de-radicalisation exercise, for suspects and arrested Boko Haram fighters.
With this achieved, it is not out of place, to reintroduce such persons, back into the society. Like I have often said, we will require more than our military warfare as a nation, to defeat terrorism. We shall require a lot of effort, in winning the psychological aspect of the war, which actually serves as the strength and engine room, of the insurgency.
With the renewed threat of attacks by the Boko Haram insurgents, what do you think the government needs to do to curtail this and maintain the victory so far achieved?
I beg to differ a little from your assumption that there are renewed attacks by the Boko Haram elements. What we are witnessing, as it can be observed globally that incidences of insurgency are cased of isolated attacks, which is a major sign of the last hours desperations of a defeated group, such as Boko Haram.
My opinion is that it requires our collective effort as Nigerians to join hands with the various security agencies in order to expose and route out the remnants of Boko Haram and their collaborators, from our various communities, particularly in the North East.
How in your opinion, can the populace, collaborate with the Nigerian Army and other security agencies, to minimise the activities of Boko Haram and other separatist organisations currently operating in the country?
Trust is the key issues here. Nigerians must trust the army, and other security agencies with useful and sensitive information that can assist in their operations.
We must also shun all forms of negative news that can be of distraction to the Nigerian Army and its leadership. Most importantly, we must always appreciate and salute the gallantry of our men that have abandoned the comfort of their homes in order for us as Nigerians to have a peaceful and united society.
Also, the media should see themselves as equal partners in nation building rather than dwelling on issues that can distract the focus of our security agencies.
A lot is being achieved and I can attest to this from the point of our last visit to Maiduguri; it is our hope that the federal government will further empower the military to ensure that this victory is not only sustained, but that we can also return our country completely to what it was before the insurgency era.
Now that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released its timetable towards the 2019 General election, what is your advice to Nigerian?

Nigerians must cease the opportunity that the 2019 elections offer to look at where we are coming from and the progress we have been able to make as a nation in the last three years, especially in the war against corruption and insurgency. We must all work towards consolidating on our democracy, through a free and fair process and keep supporting President Buhari, to take Nigeria, to a greater height.

(Nigerian Tribune)

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