Sometimes, events point overwhelmingly to a particular conclusion but reality may be different. I am old enough to know that, even in their clearest appearances, things are hardly what they seem to be. Aware of this, I do not just jump into the wagon of sentiment and popular opinions. That is why I have refrained from writing about the killings in Nigeria. However, I have decided to speak publicly now because Buhari’s presidency and the killings in Nigeria have been consistent in a way that goes beyond mere coincidences and calls for thought provoking questions that will help Nigerians think more deeply. What I have done here is present facts and ask questions informed by, and springing from, the facts or related to them. My intention is to help Nigerians evaluate the realities more broadmindedly in order to be able to understand them and, using their understanding, make good decisions for the future of Nigeria, especially regarding the 2019 elections.
B. THE FACTS
1. BUHARI IS A FULANI MAN AND A SUNNI MUSLIM: The president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari is a Fulani man. He was born by Fulani parents from Daura in Katsina State, northern Nigeria. He belongs to the sect/group of Islam called Sunni Islam (see FACT #5 below for explanation).
2. BUHARI OWNS COWS: Muhammadu Buhari owns cows that are taken care of by Fulani herdsmen whom he employs and pays. Responding to the killings in southern Kaduna in the year 2016, Othman Ngelzarma, the secretary of Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, states categorically that “the president is a herdsman, a Fulani man. He owns cows.” Listen to his statement on this Youtube video: https://youtu.be/Qrgis4vr-nM?t=123. In northern Nigeria, cattle rearing is a business of the rich. Cow business is very expensive and it is the rich who employ the poor to run their cow businesses for them. Most of the cows you see are owned by many northern Muslim governors, senators, local government chairmen, other politicians and businessmen. Nomadic Fulani herdsmen are employees of the owners of the cows. Buhari is one of the cow owners and employers of the herdsmen.
3. MONEY AND LAND FOR FULANI HERDSMEN: The first national budget during Buhari’s presidency was that of the year 2016. In that budget, Buhari called for the allocation of money specifically to Fulani herdsmen. He also called for the establishment of cattle colonies for Fulanis in every state of the country. That means people’s land would be taken and given to the Fulani herdsmen for their personal business. Vanguard newspaper of January 23, 2018 published this and it is available online here: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/01/cattle-colonies-370000-hectares-nigerias-landll-given-herdsmen-personal-business-cso/. In June 2018, the same Buhari called for the allocation of N170 billion to be used for building cattle ranches all over Nigeria for his fellow Fulani herders. People’s land is to be seized and public funds used for the personal business of Buhari and his killer Fulani tribesmen. You can read this in The Gardian newspaper of June 22, 2018 and on this link: https://guardian.ng/news/benue-groups-kick-over-n170-billion-vote-for-cattle-ranches. Buhari does nothing against the killings but demands for money and land for the killers.
4. THE KILLINGS ARE HAPPENING DURING BUHARI’S PRESIDENCY: There had been killings by Fulanis even before the colonial masters came to the place called Nigeria. Boko Haram was there before Buhari became president. However, the killings termed “herdsmen killings” in Nigerian did not happen in the organized, sophisticated, funded and protected manner as they have been during Buhari’s presidency. Buhari became a president before the killings took the turn they have now. The most recent of these killings, up to the time this article was written (July 10, 2018), was the killing of over 200 people in Plateau State, Nigeria, by the same Fulani herders. Before Buhari became president, the killings were nothing close to what they are now. They were not this successful and did not have the level of impunity they have now. The total number of people “killed by herdsmen” since Buhari became president is larger than the number of all the people killed before his presidency. Even the UK parliament affirmed and discussed this fact. Vanguard newspaper of July 1, 2018, reporting the UK’s concern, states emphatically that the Fulani militia have murdered more people “in 2015, 2016 and 2017 than even Boko Haram.” Read this report here: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/07/nigeria-killings-echo-abroad-herdsmen-boko-haram-threaten-nigerias-future-uk-parliamentarians. That was within the first two years of Buhari’s presidency. If, in 2017, one year ago, the Fulanis had already killed more people than Boko Haram did, just add the number of people killed from 2017 till date to those killed from 2015 to 2017. You know what that means.
5. APPOINTMENT OF NORTHERN MUSLIMS - THE RELIGIO-POLITICAL DIMENSION: The people whom Buhari have appointed to head the most important departments of Nigeria’s life are mostly his fellow Sunni Muslims from northern Nigeria where he comes from. I mention “Sunni Muslims” here because it is not all Muslims who are like Buhari. There are two major sects (groups) of Islam/Muslims - Sunni Islam/Muslims and Shia Islam/Muslims. Sunni Muslims (also called the Sunnis) are the majority of Muslims all over the world. They constitute about 80% of Muslims. They are mostly the ones in northern Nigeria and Buhari’s fellows. Shia Muslims (called the Shiites/Shiyaites) are about 20% of Muslims and are in southern and western Nigeria. While the Sunnis generally (not all of them) believe in killing in the name of Allah and are mostly violent, the Shiites generally do not believe in killing in the name of religion and are, for the most part, peaceful. During religious crises, the Sunnis kill not only Christians but also Shia Muslims because the Sunnis believe that the Shiites are fake Muslims and, therefore, infidels like Christians. Even though there are some Christians and Shiite Muslims among his appointees, Buhari appointed mostly his fellow northern Sunni Muslims into key offices, especially those ones that have to do with security. Therefore, the people who should direct security agencies to protect Nigerians are related more closely to the killers, who are also Sunnis, than to the rest of Nigerians who are being killed.
6. THE KILLERS ARE PAID - THE CASE OF EL-RUFAI AND KADUNA KILLINGS: Whenever the killings happen, the killers are not arrested. The president and his Sunni Muslim fellows who are heading security departments do not make honest efforts to arrest or expose the killers. When, in 2016, they killed over 800 people in the southern part of Kaduna State, the Governor of the state, Nasiru El-Rufai, a Fulani man himself, paid the killers and said he paid them so that they would not come back to kill more people in his state. He said: “there is a new governor who is Fulani like them and has no problem paying compensations…” Take note of his statement: “a new governor who is Fulani like them.” This is a very serious statement. It means the governor knew whom the killers were; he knew that the killers were his fellow tribesmen, fellow Fulanis. Because he was a “Fulani like them,” El-Rufai paid them instead of arresting them. Since El-Rufai claimed that the killers were from other countries, he was supposed to tell the president of Nigeria and the president of Nigeria was supposed to contact those countries to arrest those people. If Nigerians killed citizens of other countries, as El-Rufai claimed, they were supposed to be arrested by the Nigerian government. None of that happened. El-Rufai only went and paid his Fulani brothers who killed his citizens. Buhari, also a Fulani like them, kept quiet too. The speech by El-Rufai accepting that he paid the killers was published by Vanguard newspaper, 3 December, 2016, available online on this link: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/12/weve-paid-fulani-stop-killings-southern-kaduna-el-rufai/.
7. THE RELEASE OF BOKO HARAM DETAINEES: In 2017, Buhari released some Boko Haram members who were in detention, as a trade for the release of some of the Chibok girls kidnapped in 2014. This people were released with a whooping amount of money - 3 million Euros which, in Nigerian currency, equals N1,259,860,319.73 (one billion, two hundred and fifty nine million, eight hundred and sixty thousand, three hundred and nineteen Naira and seventy three kobo). Those were experienced killers set free and given a lot of money. While the intended release of the girls was good news, it was bad news that killers were free and rich in the society. Don’t forget, all these Boko Haram members were Buhari’s fellow Sunni Muslims from the same northern Nigeria as Buhari. Reality suggest beyond doubt that the released Boko Haram members and the money they got are being used for the killings that are going on in Nigeria now. The Punch newspaper, 24 December, 2017 has this report, also available here: http://punchng.com/buhari-paid-boko-haram-e3m-for-release-of-chibok-girls-report.
8. THE VICTIMS OF THE KILLINGS ARE CHRISTIANS- THE RELIGIOUS MOTIVATION: All the communities attacked and all people killed by these Fulani herdsmen are Christians. If at all they have ever killed their fellow Fulani or Sunni Muslim, then, it was by mistake. As I said in (5) above, the killers are Fulani by tribe and Sunni Muslims by religion. There are Sunni Muslim communities that have lands and farms and are not herders, but the Fulani herdsmen do not attack them because they belong to the same Sunni sect of Islam. This shows that the killings are not just because herdsmen want to have freedom to graze their cows. The motivation is both religious and economic but more religious. This is clear from their selective attacks on Christian communities and churches. If it were just a matter of having problems with farmers, why would they attack and kill two priests and over ten worshippers during morning Mass at St. Ignatius Catholic Church, Ukpor-Mbalam village, Benue State, on April 24, 2018?
9. NO SECURITY DEPLOYED TO VICTIM COMMUNITIES: No matter how long it takes the Fulani herdsmen to destroy their target communities, no police or military forces show up until the Fulanis are done with the killings. It took them hours to kill more than 800 people in southern Kaduna in 2016 and about 200 people in June 2018 in Plateau State. In both cases, there were no interventions from the military or police during the killings. However, when IPOB - a group in Igboland - led by Nnamdi Kanu, moved for the secession of Igboland from Nigeria, Buhari, using his government, declared them a terrorist group and sent soldiers and police to eastern Nigeria in 2016. Many Igbo youths were killed by the forces sent by Buihari. If he could send security forces to Igboland, then, it means he can send them to protect communities and arrest the killers. However, Buhari neither deploys security to target communities nor sends anyone to arrest the killers.
C. THE QUESTIONS
1. Since Buhari is a Fulani man and an owner of cattle business, was he not calling for the allocation of Nigeria’s money to his own business when he said money should be given to Fulani herdsmen in the 2016 budget and called for N170 billion for them in June 2018? If he were not a Fulani cow owner and if the herdsmen were not Fulanis like him, would he have made that demand? Why not give the money to the ministry of Agriculture to give to all farmers, instead of picking out only cattle farming? Why not give money to other businesses owned by people who were not related to him by tribe, religion and business? How important were cattle or dairy products to the life of Nigerians that cattle business had to be a part of the national budget? Does the land to be used for cattle colonies not belong to people? Why should other people’s land be taken and used for the personal business of Buhari and his Fulani tribesmen?
2. Since the killings are done by Fulani herdsmen, are the herdsmen who work for Buhari not among the killers? Since the killings are done to benefit cattle business, and Buhari has cattle business, are the killings not beneficial to Buhari’s cattle business? Since Buhari owns cows and protects the murderers, is he not helping the continuity of the killings?
3. If the Boko Haram detainees were not Muslims, would Buhari have released them? Are they not using their killing expertise and the money given to them to train and arm those who are killing people now? Did Buhari not know those people and only used the release of Chibok girls as a cover-up for their release so that he and his cohorts could use them for killing in a way that would be more successful than the method used by Boko Haram? Was the intention the freedom of the girls, or the freedom of experienced killers who could be useful for a successful killing of Christians? Did Buhari and his cohorts not instruct these released Boko Haram to adopt the system of killing that is going on now? Have the killings not become deadlier, more widespread, sophisticated and successful since the release of Book Haram detainees than before then?
4. Did Buhari not know that El-Rufai paid the killers? Did he call El-Rufai to order for doing that? Why did Buhari not take up the case with the killers’ countries and demand their arrest (if it is true that the killers came from other countries)? Is it not because Buhari, El-rufai and the killers are all Fulani sand Sunni Muslims?
5. Why do the country’s security forces refuse or fail to defend Nigerians from the killers or arrest the killers? Is it not because they are related to the killers? Is it not because the killings benefit all of them? The killers and those in charge of security are brothers, courtesy of Buhari. Why has Buhari, who sent the police and military to Igboland, not sent them to protect communities and arrest the herdsmen? If Buhari does not support the killings, why does he not send the same forces against the killer Fulani herdsmen? Buhari had the power to send security to Igboland, but does not have the power to send them to protect those killed by his fellow Fulanis? Is this not a reason why the Fulani cattle breeders believe that their brother, Buhari, will protect them if they go on murderous rampages the way they have been doing?
6. How could the Fulanis have killed more people in the first two years of Buhari’s presidency than Boko Haram did in ten years, if Buhari has noting to do with the killings? How can that be a coincidence? Why are the killers more successful when one of their own is the president than they were previously if the president is not instrumental to their murderous activities?
A coincidence is when different events happen at the same time accidentally. How can the killings in Nigeria be coincidental with Buhari’s being the president when they happen over and over without the possible intervention of security forces, and the response of Buhari is always the same - silence? Can a rational person believe that these killings would still have been happening even if Buhari had not become president?
All the facts and questions presented herein, I believe, are enough to help us establish with clarity that Buhari and the killings in Nigeria cannot be mere coincidences. There is a plan, design and connection somewhere. Even if he is not necessarily aware of every plan to kill before the killings are done, his overarching and primordial approval, incentives and protection to the killers is the springboard to the various killings.
I invite Nigerians to draw insights from this article and vote more circumspectly in 2019 than we did in 2015. Those we elect into offices determine what happens in power in 2015. If anything can be done within the purview of the law to remove Buhari from office, it should be done quickly. That is because, given the number of Nigerians killed thus far, there is grave danger that even more will be killed before his present term of office elapses on May 29, 2019. To vote him into power again in 2019 is to sign for him the death warrant of every Nigerian who is not a Fulani or Sunni Muslim. I call on us to draw lessons from the past and the present and vote more wisely in the future than we did in the past. Whoever does not have a voter’s card should go and get it. People determine government. That is why Joseph de Maistre of Savoy says that “[e]very nation gets the government it deserves.” We deserve a good Nigeria. Let us determine it for ourselves.
God bless Nigeria.