I write this piece with tears in my eyes and with a heavy heart. I have been sleepless over the heartless killings, wickedness and inhumanity that have been expressed by persons assumed to be human beings, but are not.
I am not fasting, but have lost appetite in the last few weeks because of the volume of human blood that has been shed in Mangu, Bokkos and other places. For how long shall this continue ? We cannot continue to witness what seems an endless situation without taking a drastic step to curtail it. We have assessed the involvement of the military in security operations across the country and in truth, its time the government review it if actually the purpose was to achieve the goal of peace and stability or if the operations are mere military exercise of keeping fit to their personal organisational goals. This is not a blanket position against the military because there are very gallant and patriotic ones who are very concerned and determined to do the right thing to help the communities. This is also not to say that they have not achieved anything, or that all of the soldiers who are on these special duties are bad. The truth is that the people of most of these affected communities, especially those on the Plateau, have lost confidence in the military because of their conducts. Very strong accusing fingers have been pointed in the direction of the soldiers over acts of compromise and deliberate taking of sides in the crisis. This is not the first time such accusations have come up and yet previous governments have not been sensitive to it. At a point in time it was public belief that most of the killings were done by the soldiers who serve as mercenaries to whoever can pay for their services. Identification cards of some of the soldiers were often found at the scenes of killings or attacks and nothing more of evidences than these. At a point no one within the communities would run to a military check point for safety because it always ended in a sad story. Whenever the people see a military vehicle coming they prefer to ran away because they don’t see them as neutral in the crisis. What compounded the integrity problem for the military is the superiority mentality they have over other security agencies they are supposed to work together. This work is more of an intelligence gathering and action in which case the police,the DSS and Civil defence are more equiped and positioned to provide than a military assignment. The military see themselves as superior to all other security agencies they are deployed to assist. They donot allow the police and other security agencies trained in intelligence gathering to lead them and therefore would always apply their regimented conduct in the process of analysing the crisis and this makes it easy for any element who decides to compromise to adopt to do so. Within the police and the DSS there are adequate checks and balances because the two agencies have a relationship with the civil authorities and civilian communities through some judicial agencies and non governmental organisations for proper peer review. The behaviour of the military has made synergy difficult and aided anti agency rivalry among the security agencies. Because the military has overstayed its welcome, its only proper that they be withdrawn for adequate attention and empowerment to be given to the police ,DSS and NSCDC to operate freely.
Why would the military be allowed to stay this long on a duty they are less trained to handle when the police can be given adequate enablement and reinforcement to do? Why should we continue to celebrate them across the nation for just occupying the space and not delivering on the secondary mandate they were deployed to do? It’s better they go back to the barracks so we can see clearly the gaps and fill them for more lasting solutions to our internal conflicts than to keep postponing the evil day. For how long shall we keep relying on additional help from the military when we can empower the police to do better? When are we going to give full attention to the police and other agencies to do their work without looking for help from somewhere?
It’s ridiculous that in Mangu, the military are said to be fighting the police over the leadership of the management of the conflict. Its curious that with hundreds of the military deployed in just but one local government area, the situation has not abated.
Once there is loss of confidence in any engagement, the only reasonable thing to do is to disengage the union.A lot has gone down the drain and more damages will continue to be witnessed if they are not returned to the barracks.The military has achieved alot in some areas especially where the situation is more of terrorism and banditry,but less success has been recorded where its about religious, ethnic and land grabbing. The case on the Plateau is more of land grabbing and dispossessing to possess.The issue on the Plateau is more of ceaseless attempt to take over the land of natives by unknown or known gunmen who have never been apprehended and yet staying on the land of those killed and displaced. Such situations needs a different and radical approach because the old approaches are not working. The governments of YarAdua and Jonathan did not achieve much because of the complexities and faulty narratives which continue to derail and delay any meaningful analysis of the crisis. Under Obasanjo it was erroneously perceived as more of a political crisis among the Plateau political actors which was expected to abate with time. Under the last administration of Buhari,the symptoms became full blown of attempts at taking over the land of the natives by unknown faces but no attention was given by both the federal and state governments, giving room for a reckless escalation that has reached the present level. Both the Buhari and the Lalong administrations kept playing dirty politics with the situation even when it was obvious the intentions of those causing the havoc. They made it look like it was purely a farmer/ herder clashes. It was a deliberately deceptive narrative not to take the desired action and for political correctness on the part of the then state government. Its on record that no herder nor farmer have ever been assembled at a round table for any deliberation to justify that. The more people were killed,the more the soldiers were deployed to the state with more of the state resources being expended.
The heavy presence of the military in Plateau with long years of operations without the expected outcome is a big shame. This has only militarised every area of the lives of the people,hardened the people on both sides and created alot of imbalance. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu should look deeper and take the decisive step to withdraw the military from the state without delay. It cannot be imagined that with such long years of operating in a place yet the situation kept escalating and the only solution is to bring in more and more soldiers to the land thereby militarising and consolidating the militarization process without relief. I think the military needs to tell the nation what they truly understand about the crisis in Plateau. Just few days ago, the chief of defence information was publicly repeating the false narrative that the issues are about farmers/ herders clash even where everyone knows its not. Their withdrawal is long overdue. The military has overstayed its welcome in Plateau.The people have lost confidence in most of them and the earlier they are withdrawn, the better for the communities. There are quite a number of instances of allegations of compromise within the communities. A situation where a military man or woman is deployed in a place and stayed for years ,getting more relaxed and even becoming too conversant, not wanting to leave is a cause for concern. This in itself, is a big problem in the process of change.
The military whose initial concept was to assist the regular police and other security agencies in curtailing uprisings has ended up taking over what they least understood of the entire conflict. The superiority complex would not allow them submit to the police whose constitutional training and obligation is widely known in such matters. If the military is to assist the police, then it behoves that they respect the process and work together in good synergy to achieve intended results.
The proper narrative of the Plateau crisis has been well captured, explained and enumerated by Governor Caleb Mutfwang in the numerous media interviews he has granted the press since he assumed office. He has made it clear that its not about farmers/ herders clash but about forceful grabbing of ancestral lands by unknown forces. This narrative has not been faulted by anyone and its believe that the President and the Presidency will seek to know more about this and act accordingly. As a leader sensitive to issues ,we believe President Tinubu will key into the narrative(s) unique to every Nigerian community affected by different crisis to find lasting solutions to the problems.