Over 73 people massacred and emotionally buried en mass amidst tears and public outcry for justice, then military moved in to stem the killing spree. In spite of that, over 5000 more farmers are been sacked from their farmland and homes while killer herdsmen are seen forcefully occupying the land which the Benue farmers are dispossessed as we write, a very symptom of a nation on the edge of precipice.
In a sermon predicated on the fast deteriorating security situation in the country, Bishop David Oyedepo, the President of the Living Faith Church Worldwide, recently warned politicians against sacrificing Nigeria’s destiny for their ambitions. Titled, “A Nation in a State of Slumber,” the cleric said that Nigeria was now a nation at war with herself given that there are neither ethnic crises nor natural disasters yet mass burials have become so common place.
“The soul of Nigeria is near to the point of death,” he said before adding that “Citizens of this nation are fast becoming endangered species.”
Oyedepo is not alone in raising fears about the spectre of violence that seems to be engulfing the nation. Mr. Ibrahim Coomassie, Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum expressed similar sentiments when he said that unless the problems of bad governance, corruption and youth unemployment were addressed, the future of the country was in jeopardy.
Coomasie, a former Inspector General of Police, who spoke at a conference in Kaduna with the theme, “The North and the Challenge of Leadership”, argued that “political office holders pay scant attention to the needs of their populace,” while corrupt practices have become endemic. “Nepotism has become common place in most appointments. Unless we approach these problems with the seriousness they deserve, we may be heading towards anarchy and eventual disintegration,” Coomassie warned.
Many Nigerians are perhaps right to be worried about the state of the nation. Everywhere, there is tension, fuelled, among other things, by reckless and prolonged killings being perpetrated by sundry criminal elements who act as though above the law. From Adamawa to Kaduna to Taraba to Zamfara and Enugu, these killings crop up time and again, with the authorities seemingly helpless.
Nowhere are these worries more apparent and consequential than in Benue State, where many communities have become graveyards and farm lands are laid waste.
Only recently, some 73 community of innocent farmers with their wives and children were buried in an emotional ceremony in Makurdi, the state capital, all victims of heartless serial killers.
However, the madness is not restricted to Benue State as thousands of innocent lives had been lost to the irrational violence between farmers and the herdsmen across many states in the Middle Belt in recent years.
Some months ago, some communities on the Mambilla Plateau in Taraba State erupted in an unprecedented orgy of violence that claimed the lives of many inhabitants in the long-running conflicts between herdsmen and farmers. But more confounding is that the authorities have deliberately allowed the impunity to thrive, resulting in a country lurching from one crisis to another.
With the Boko Haram devastation still on in the North-East, wanton kidnappings in Yobe, armed robbery and free-wheeling criminalities in several parts of the country, it is safe to say that Nigeria has fallen so badly short in peace and security.
Indeed, what has become very clear is that the Nigerian state is losing the dominance of the machinery of violence to non-state actors. To add to the mounting concerns, the prevailing economic downturn has undermined the capacity of both the state and individuals so much so that basic necessities of life, including food, medicare and shelter added to non-payment of workers’ salaries have gone far beyond the reach of the majority of Nigerians.
In plain words, the state is increasingly failing to provide for the people.
With the growing fractiousness and polarisation in the land as a result of the violence, there is an urgent need for the federal government to apply the wedge and pull the nation back from the precipice.
Aside instituting the appropriate social policies that would engender a regime of justice and fairness–a major requirement for peace and security–it is also important to de-escalate the growing tension in the current theatres of violence.
Until that is done, the body count will keep mounting to our collective shame as a nation.