- Pastor accuses govt of complicity
Chinelo Obogo, Lagos; John Adams, Minna.
The Senior Pastor of Latter Rain Assembly, Tunde Bakare, yesterday took the Federal Government to the cleaners over the recent killings of Benue State citizens by Fulani herdsmen.
He accused government of being complicit by refusing to vigorously execute policies aimed at preventing the killings even with sufficient warnings.
This is coming at a time former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, demanded a stop to killings across the country.
In his blistering State of the Nation address titled, “It is Time to Renegotiate Our Union,” aired on live television, the cleric, who was running mate to Buhari in the 2011 presidential election, said nothing indicted the Federal Government greater than its failure in one key performance area that ought to be its strength, which is security.
He said the recent killings in Benue, Adamawa and Taraba states by Fulani herdsmen were indications that not only “has the government failed to stop the killings across the country, it has done so against the backdrop of conspiratorial silence, choosing rather to label such attacks an issue of communal misunderstanding.”
“The recent killings in Benue State are akin to the last straw that is set to break the camel’s back. Not only has the government failed to stop these killings across the country, it has done so against the backdrop of conspiratorial silence, choosing rather to label such attacks ‘an issue of communal misunderstanding’. Worse still, some of these killings have reportedly been carried out in collusion with the military.
“Recently, the Secretary to the Adamawa State Government, Umar Bindir, justified the bearing of arms by the herdsmen but failed to tell where the herdsmen get their guns from and with which government agency these guns are registered.
“Who authorised them to bear arms? Who gave them immunity against Section 3 of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act 1990, which prescribes punishment for illegal possession of arms? Who monitors the use of these guns?
“Why have the relevant government agencies failed to act? In particular, why has the name Department of State Services (DSS) become synonymous with the phrase ‘Deliberate Sinful Silence’ (DSS)? Or is it now the ‘Department of Sinful Silence’?
“The Federal Government has become complicit for the following reasons: By not advancing and vigorously executing policies aimed at pre-empting or preventing these killings even with sufficient warnings.
“Despite the antecedents of the marauders, including the recent Adamawa incidents, Mr. President, in his New Year address to the nation, did not consider the menace or the pain of victims of previous attacks worth a mention in his address.
“The stones are crying out from Benue State and every part of the country where herdsmen have slaughtered the innocent in unspeakably barbaric attacks while the government failed to act until there were yet more bodies in morgues.
“By failing to give victims a path to reconciliation and the hope of a united Nigeria. It has been reported, for instance, that as a result of the failure of government to act, there have been reprisal attacks on herdsmen, resulting in a vicious cycle of death and destruction,” Bakare said.
He also gave his verdict on the anti-corruption war: “The ineffectiveness of the anti-corruption war is seen in the loss of crucial corruption cases.
“For instance, in April 2017, the Federal Government lost four high profile corruption cases in 96 hours. These losses are in addition to bizarre developments such as the failure of government to confirm a substantive chairman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).”
Bakare equally hit the President for rejecting the calls for restructuring, which he said was the only solution for the nation’s discontent.
He said “by rejecting the call to restructure our nation in order to bring lasting solutions to these and other signs of sectional discontent, in his address, Mr. President further alienated his government from the voice of reason in relation to the call to restructure Nigeria.
“I totally agree with Mr. President that we need process reforms; otherwise, we would not be appointing dead men to head parastatals, but can process reforms replace foundational structural reforms? Never.
“Let no one confuse the genuine call to restructure the nation with the gimmicks of political opportunists who ride on the restructuring wave for their perceived advantage. Many of them talked the talk but neither walked the talk in the past nor will do so in the future.
“I say to those who have the power to take the decisions and actions necessary to end these atrocities, especially by restructuring the nation, but have failed to do so for political gains, that they are attempting to establish a city by iniquity and there are dire consequences.
“It is time for a democratic revolution. The season for complaints and complacency is over. We must seize this opportune moment to translate our collective national disappointment into a uniquely Nigerian rebirth. To avoid engagement with the powers that have hijacked our collective patrimony is to surrender our national destiny without a fight.
“Our fight to reclaim and renew Nigeria begins now. Registering and obtaining a valid voter’s card must now be a national priority.
“If the 2015 elections were critical to our national survival, the 2019 polls are pivotal to our country’s future development. If power truly belongs to the people, it is time for the silent majority to instigate real and genuine change.
“What is required to kick-start this process is the creation of a Presidential Commission for National Reconciliation, Reintegration and Restructuring. This commission is to be headed by a biblical Joseph-type national figure appointed to provide visionary leadership for the process with the support of six zonal commissioners.
“To facilitate the process, the National Assembly will provide the requisite constitutional amendments within the ten years in addition to serving as a monitoring and evaluation clearing house.
“By the 10th year at the latest, the systems, values and structural underlay of the geo-economic transformation will be codified in a new constitutional arrangement. The new constitution will be adopted by the Nigerian people through a referendum.
“The current edifice of state has become a deathtrap. All around are cracks on the wall that originate from the structural foundations. Those cracks are dripping with blood and the stones in the wall are crying out.
“The stones are crying out in every state in the federation where workers’ salaries are unpaid and poverty prevails because States are nothing but institutional and constitutional vegetables on life support from Abuja.
“In his New Year address, President Buhari said: ‘We Nigerians can be very impatient and want to improve our conditions faster than may be possible considering our resources and capabilities…’
‘’This is a call to return to the foundations of our geopolitical structure. It is a call to renegotiate our union. I stand on the God-inspired pathway to the New Nigeria, which I call the Pragmatic Steps to Restructuring Nigeria (PSRN).
Bakare, who was reported to have said that God told him to run for election, said he did not specifically say God told him to contest in the 2019 elections.
He said: “I did say that, while waiting on God, the Spirit of God said to me: Politics is not over for you. There is still one thing left for you to do: Run for President…I will work it out Myself and make it happen in due course.
“The declaration was not a presidential campaign announcement; it was an invitation to prayers sent out to fellow labourers initiated in our corporate destiny as nation builders.
“Nowhere in that declaration did I mention running for election. ”
Meanwhile, General Babangida has warned that it is time to stop the bloodletting going on across the country, saying that too many innocent souls have been wasted through too many avoidable crises in recent times:
“We have witnessed so much bloodshed through communal clashes and conflicts that need urgent actions to stop them now.”
Babangida who stated this in Minna in a statement he personally signed to mark the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration, pointed out that “we should cooperate and support our security with relevant information and intelligence to help in tackling the problems.”
He said: “We should eschew hate speeches, discrimination and other vices that trigger senseless violence and bloodshed.”
He called on governments at all levels, religious leaders, traditional rulers, social activists and the media to serve as national vanguards in resolving some of the recent disturbing incidents affecting national security.
The former military president also urged political office holders and politicians from all political parties to be conscious of their campaign slogans and messages by ensuring that they were geared towards peaceful participation and constructive engagements of the electorates.
“For the members of the armed forces and security agencies, I urge them to remain apolitical, neutral and focus on the ethics of discipline which is the hallmark of their profession”
He therefore expressed his condolence to the families of members of the Armed Forces who lost their lives in their effort to keep Nigeria secured in various military operations.
Massacre: PDP berates Buhari for not visiting Benue
From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to visit Benue State to condole with the victims of recent killings in the state.
A statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola, said the inability of President Buhari to visit the state to commiserate with those who lost their loved ones in the killings was pregnant with meaning.
Ologbondiyan said: “It is very sad to note that in its insensitivity, the Federal Government did not consider it important to send a delegation to the burial of those massacred in Benue and till date, there has been no presidential visit of any sort to commiserate with the people of Benue and other states where Nigerians are being slaughtered by bandits under the APC regime.
“The PDP is worried that while innocent Nigerians were still being slaughtered and families crying out for help, the President was busy receiving APC governors on orchestrated self-serving visit to Aso Rock to endorse his personal ambition for a second tenure; a time when a soothing word and practical action from his Presidency would have helped ease the pains and reassure the people.”
It added that it is painful that Federal Government failed to provide adequate security for flashpoints across the country.
According to the PDP, the disposition of the government was believed to embolden “the marauders to continue their killing spree, divide and further plunge the nation into turmoil like the attacks in Kaduna, Taraba, Adamawa and other states.
Said Ologbondiyan: “It is imperative for Nigerians to note that no government, in the history of our nation, had formulated a divisive body language like this APC-controlled Federal Government and the citizens are painfully bearing the brunt.
“We, therefore, urge the Presidency to be more responsive to issues that concern the unity of our dear nation and the security of our people.”
Insurgency spreading under guise of herdsmen attacks –Bishop Oyedepo
By Adetutu Folasade-Koyi
Presiding Bishop of Living Faith World Outreach, David Oyedepo, has warned that inability to address herdsmen attacks could be another form of insurgency spreading across the country.
Bishop Oyedepo specifically pleaded with the Federal Government Fulani herdsmen’s killing spree and prevent the country’s disintegration, with a warning that Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gunpowder.
The cleric gave the warning in a message titled “A wake up call to a nation in a state of slumber,” yesterday.
“I have this wake-up call for a nation in a state of slumber.
“Insurgency is spreading across the country under the guise of Fulani herdsmen. Danger is looming.
‘For example, how many of these killers have been brought to book since their campaign of carnage, death and destruction began, one may ask? A nationwide crisis is in the offing that may be worse than anyone around knows. Tell me the morality behind some strangers who are doing their business as cattle rearers over-running your farm with your labour and graze their cattle on your crop and when you challenge them, they kill you. Where are the leaders of thoughts in Nigeria? Where is the government and that continues unabated?
“We are sitting on a keg of gunpowder. There is volatile reaction coming and God revealed this to me, as far back as 1992, clearly written in my diary.
“The destiny of our nation has never been under the threat of survival as it is today. People may soon be forced to take the law into their hands. The security apparatus of the country has obviously failed to defend the property and lives of these poor farmers.
“While we are claiming to be curtailing Boko Haram, we are, on the other hand, aiding and abetting herdsmen and their murderous acts. Nigeria is a nation at war with ourselves. No external aggression from aggressors, no ethnic crisis, no natural disaster, yet we are doing mass burial. What a nation in a state of slumber.
“Let me ask these pertinent questions that borders on the conscience of a nation and its leaders.
“Is cattle business government business? Should farmers be killed for Fulani herdsmen to live? Should all the farmers leave their farms today for fear of Fulani herdsmen? As the last time I knew, Nigeria still produced less than 20 percent of what it consumes and ask me what is the contribution of herdsmen to the GDP of this country? What is come to this country?
“There is more to this low response of government to addressing this issue which is definitely a time bomb Does Nigerian land belong to Fulani herdsmen? There has never been this kind of assault on the intelligence of the people like we are having now.
“Should you allocate my father’s land to Fulani herdsmen? No. Are they now the customary land owners of every state, town, cities, villages and hamlets in Nigeria? There is danger in the offing; every community may soon set up their own security system to defend themselves against the insurgency of the Fulani herdsmen. Can the citizens still trust the security agencies of this nation to protect them? You will be vulnerable for life. When citizens cannot trust the security of a state, anarchy is in view. Insurrection may also be on the way. These largely unchecked activities of the Fulani herdsmen may eventually choke the soul of Nigeria to death, God forbid.
“Is Nigeria project still working? Without justice there cannot be peace. You don’t step on my toes and say let’s have peace. We can’t have peace but exchange of blows.
“Today, human lives are now being slain for cattles without any drastic interventions from relevant security agents. Should men and women continue to lay their lives down for cattle? There is no nation on the earth where the defence of cattle is more than the defence of human lives.
“How are these killers making away with their murderous acts? They must have the backings of some powers that be. Any right-thinking Nigerian will speculate same. Is Boko haram not spreading strategically across the nation? How many cows will a Fulani man sell to buy a AK47? which now cost about N3m a piece. A cow, the fattest is N180,000-N200,000. To buy five riffles, equals N15 million.
At the weekend, Kamo Emir, Muhammadu Sanusi II said in an interview with a national newspaper that he appealed to the governor of Taraba State, Darius Ishaku, to delay enactment of its anti-grazing law.
“You don’t hire security guard in a room and parlour. Some fellows supply these guns and you cannot tell how much stockpiles of arms they have.
“Nigeria is becoming an endangered nation where any group of persons may attempt to overrun the nation. Caution, Caution, Caution Caution to everyone responsible for the affairs of this nation.
“God has sent me to warn this nation, a flood of evil is at the door.”
“I can confirm that I personally spoke to Governor Darius Ishaku, before his public hearings on his law and begged him to slow down until he has worked out proper implementation but, he refused.”