Renowned Muslim Cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has blamed the worsening insecurity situations in the northern region of the country, particularly those bordering on herdsmen menace to alleged military intervention, which he claimed, informed the resistance been put up by the armed group.
He argued that rather than military intervention being employed by the Federal Government, negotiations and continuous engagement by the governments and relevant stakeholders would douse the tension and ensure the herdsmen, armed groups and other agitators put down their tools and embrace peace.
The cleric added that more would have been achieved through peaceful resolution and other proven crisis management strategy rather than military intervention, which he claimed, only toughened the herders resolve in wreacking havoc across Nigeria.
Through a statement titled ‘Zamfara: The Flaring of Crisis’, and released to journalists on Monday, Gumi noted that aside from alleged military inventions, other factors that turned the region to den of criminality and instability include absence of strict sharia law, lack of education among others.
“From the blues, in 2009 cattle rustling became rampant. Most of the cattle rustled were headed to the south in trailers where they are sold and slaughtered. This massive movement of rustled cattle greatly reduced their population. Most of the rustling first affected the rural herdsmen and it became more elaborate in the north-western region.
“Herdsmen were left with only one of three options. To join the rustlers or pay tribute to rustlers for protection or lose their cattle. In 2014, the military ‘intervention’ in the Birnin-Gwari Forest to fight cattle rustling changed the headsmen into a resistance movement as many innocent Fulani Ruga settlements were murdered, men, women, and children in hundreds.”
“By 2015, banditry has replaced cattle raring that is becoming nearly impossible. Drugs were introduced into the herdsmen that are known to be illiterates or semi-illiterates. The reaction of the town local vigilantes (a natural reaction to any communal aggression in self-defence) pitched the herdsman against the local rural helmets, villages, and adjacent towns to the forests as they are lynched and maimed when whenever they enter markets. Therefore, everybody became an enemy and a target. Fulanis and other tribes, Muslims and non-Muslims were equally kidnapped for a ransom most of which goes to buying weapons,” the statement said.
According to him, profiling of Fulani herdsmen became another motivative factor of more resistance and more kidnappings which has now led to their metamorphosis into the monster the nation is facing today.
“We should also know that because of their educational status and lack of an effective unified leadership they have faced untold hardship in the hands of authorities where they were extorted and stereotyped. It has been imprinted in the psyche of nomadic pastoralists that the authorities and their town dwellers are ‘evil people’ that should be resisted because they have no place to secure justice for their cases no matter how innocent they may be.”
“With their acquisition of weapons, they realized how easy it became to be masters of their abode the forest, where no authority can venture into. This has emboldened them to further attack people for more ransoms to sustain their newfound reality.”
“Now with the prodding of the government to take more military actions of an already ugly situation whereby they were left to amass weapons, a huge military budget that is almost draining the economy to a standstill in the purchase of fighter aircrafts and conducting military operations in the region has become to the authorities in their calculations a necessity.
“Unfortunately, this is no solution or wisdom. When you don’t have the monopoly of the instruments of violence, then dialogue has the monopoly of resolving the conflict. This is what the UN is all about. i.e., Roundtable resolution of conflicts. What we are seeing is more than just criminals and criminality, yes it may have started as such but like any conflict, it is dynamic.
“The danger we face now is ideological demagogues changing the narrative. They are trying hard to infiltrate the herdsmen. And we know their objectives. They want to destroy all modern governments by fighting the military and now in the recent cajoling of local populations, they have tormented before to join them in the struggle.”
“Let us face the reality, these herdsmen are going nowhere, and they are already in battle gear, and we know our Military very well, so before things get messy, we need cold brains to handle this delicate situation. It’s commonsense that if you allow your neighbors to be your enemy you are already conquered. Because they can easily be used against you by other forces as we see now the herdsmen are ultimately used to destabilize the region, pauperize and even depopulate it.”
Continuing, he said, “military actions in the past have worsen the situation stimulating herdsmen resistance. Any more action will push them closer to religious fanaticism. It gives them protection from discrediting them as thieves and also reinforce their mobilization of gullible young unemployed youth as we saw with Boko Haram.”
“I have met many of the bandit leaders to see a way out of this gridlock. I have talked to the political class and security agents. Except for an exception, most state governors want a peaceful resolution of the conflict. The Police and other security outfits have also realized the enormity of the problem. But, unfortunately, the presidency for what appears to be political gullibility and the military for budgetary reasons as they are the most beneficiary of conflicts of this nature doesn’t seem to be on the same page.”
“This conflict can be resolved by active engagement of the government with the agitators. Just as we saw how ENDSAR agitation was swiftly managed after an initial scandalous failed military confrontation, was peacefully resolved by the government, likewise, the herdsmen crisis can be.”
“Just as we had the Niger delta conflict resolved with an amnesty which comes with reconciliation, reparation, and rehabilitation packages, so will the herdsmen crisis be resolved. In fact, there is a need for a Marshal plan to educate the nomadic pastoralist so that no citizen is left behind.”
“These measures I enumerated are cheaper, easier, and lasting than the kinetic approach which is now taking place. No military especially of a poor economy can win guerrilla warfare. The recent victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan is a factual warning for those that contemplate.”