Jacob Deshi is of the Ngas ethnic nationality in Plateau State and former Secretary of the Ngas Development Association in Lagos State and Secretary, Middle Belt Traditional Council (MBTC) in Lagos and South West Nigeria. He spoke to EJIKEME OMENAZU on the on-going herdsmen killings in region. Excerpt:
How do you see the recent orgy of killings in Plateau State and other states in the North, especially the Middle Belt?
The killings are barbaric, archaic and uncalled for. It is disheartening that people are being killed like fowls in this present day Nigeria. To me, this is more than herdsmen attack, but genocide against the people of the Middle Belt in general and the concerned states in particular.
How can one describe this situation that someone values cows more that his fellow human beings? One million cows are not worth the life of a human being. For the chairman of the Miyetti Allah to come out in the open to say that 100 cows were killed and that was why they slaughtered over 200 people in Plateau in retaliation, can we say that the security organisations cannot arrest the chairman of Miyetti Allah?
The Federal Government speaks about hate speech. What is more of hate speech that that made by the chairman of Miyetti Allah? We can see clearly that these people have the backing of the Federal Government and all security agencies from the hand writing on the wall.
What do you think the Federal Government should do under this situation?
The Federal Government should know that it is there to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians and therefore, as a matter of urgency, security agencies should put the necessary measures to ensure that Nigerians’ lives are properly protected.
Would you say that the Federal Government has not been doing this?
The Federal Government has been paying lip service to the situation in the Middle Belt. This is not the first time people are being killed in this way. They have killed in Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa, Adamawa, Plateau and other states. So far, no official of government has resigned or sacked for not performing in their respective positions.
With these killings taking place close to an election year, would you say the Middle Belt would shift their support for the All Progressives Congress (APC) given that the zone gave the party full backing in 2015?
The people gave the APC its full support for its victory, which led to its control of the Federal Government. We therefore expect the Federal Government’s full support also, especially in the protection of the lives of our people. By what is happening now, the whole Middle Belt people are now regretting their action. All the states of Middle Belt supported this government, but, the people are being let down. I will not be surprised if the people will have a rethink as we are marching towards a new democratic dispensation.
If they realise that what the government is doing is not in the interest of the people, they should have a rethink, especially if the government is not protecting their lives and properties. No life is worth losing just because of cattle.
What is your advice to the people of Middle Belt?
I am calling on Middle Belt to be more united now than ever before for the progress, unity and development of our region. This is the time for the Middle Belt to come together for the survival and existence to overcome a common enemy.