Simon Udie, a renowned Security Consultant, sees herdsmen’s killing of farmers as a grand design to stop food production in some parts of the country. He spoke with our man, CELESTINE AMOKE. (Herdsmen Attacks Farmers)
As a security expert, could you please take an overview of the current situation in the country?
Yes, we will only try to look at the current situation but I tell you, it is not impressive. It is not impressive because the will power of those vested with the security to carry out their duties is no longer there.
It seems to be tilted to only one direction because of the bias in dealing with the security situation. Take for instance, the issue of the herdsmen killings, what were the statements of the Inspector General of Police? The Inspector General of Police was rather blaming the state government instead of even sympathizing with them.
You are not talking about death of innocent people; you are talking about criminals who died in line of their criminal stuff. He went there, did a some kind of abracadabra, no extra support or mobilisation of security to the area until pressure started mounting before he could send policemen there. Even with the dispatching of policemen, you ask yourself, is there any part of Nigeria where you do not have a police division? There is a police division in every part of Nigeria. A division is made up of policemen that are capable of defending a jurisdiction. But, you have a situation where policemen cannot protect the people. You then ask, where lies the security of the people?
Does it surprise you that the same Presidency that directed ‘Operation Crocodile Dance’ to maintain peace in some states seemed to have looked the other way when armed herdsmen were killing innocent citizens in Benue?
Let us look at it this way. Can the President be a judge in his own case? The President is a confirmed patron of that society they call Miyetti Allah, a body that is known to own cattle, an association of cattle owners.
You are talking here about herdsmen attacking innocent people and you expect the president in his right mind would kick against his own people?
But he is the President of Nigeria, not president of Miyetti Allah.
It is unfortunate that he is a judge in his own case. The body language shows that he has more sympathy for cattle rearers than innocent citizens being slaughtered. We have a president who would rather go and commission a house for the disabled next door to a state where 73 of its citizens were buried the previous day; the citizens he swore to protect. He could not go there, rather he would go to commission a school for the disabled next door. What type of president is he, a fair person, somebody without bias?
Now the cattle colonies; what is the implication is this?
The British came and colonised us. And I think a section of Nigeria wants to colonise the rest of the country under the guise of cattle colonies.
We saw what cattle colony or cattle market turned Zongo Kataf to. That is obviously, what they want to replicate in the 36 states of the federation.
I tell you, a colony will come with a mosque; all of them will relocate to the place, people of one religion, one tribe, and occupy the place. In no time, they will be given recognition as settlers in that place and in no time, an emir is pronounced, a first class emir, and the next thing is to give them a local government.
There would be Fulani local government in Abia State, in Rivers State, in Cross Rivers, in Akwa Ibom State, in Bayelsa State, in Benin, Edo State, Lagos and all that. Can you have an Igbo Christian Local Government in Zamfara State? It is not possible; in Sokoto State or Kano, it is not possible.
So, it is a hidden agenda?
He is obviously acting a script that has long been written, even before he himself was born and he is only following it up. That is why the Service Chiefs cannot carry out certain operations, because who will give you the order to go and shoot at cows, shoot at herdsmen? When how many cows died in Nasarawa, it was cries all over the place that cows died, louder than even the 73 people that died in Benue State.
Where does that put our security? It puts us in a situation where even the policemen authorised to take care of internal security do not have the will power. And, in not giving them the will power, there is the tendency that the police would also be deprived of arms and ammunition.
The Force Headquarters complained that only 20 percent of the policemen were actually carrying out their duties. The implication is that the rest are in obscurity duty escorting politicians, escorting their wives and girlfriends here and there.
What option do state governments have under the prevailing security situation?
Now there are cries that state police should be approved. How many states have the resources to sponsor state police, other than states like Lagos, may be Rivers State. How many states in the federation can fund state police when you talk about real nitty-gritty of policing? Are we talking about states that are owing their civil servants 11 months, 12 months or 15 months’ salaries? Are those the type that would be able to run the state police? It is going to be difficult. Even if the National Assembly should pass it today into law for the states to go ahead and organise their own police, I can assure you that in the next four years you will not see its perfection in most of the states.
Why is the Federal government now coming up with the idea of state police, something they have rejected before?
It is a political statement. We all know it is a political statement.
The APC has just come up with a document on restructuring, which they rejected before. Do you see any sincerity in rooting for it now? Is it because of pressure?
No, it is not because of pressure. They want to retain power. You know what they did two, three years ago. So, you should not expect anything better.
It can only get worse. From antecedents, you find that most governments that did not perform well in the first tenure, go to sleep in their second tenure. Even those that performed extremely well in the first tenure, go to sleep in the second tenure. The second term is used to prepare for retirement or for the Senate to avoid prosecution. ( Herdsmen Attacks Farmers)
Some prominent Nigerians have advised the President not to run for second term, Do think he would run?
I will say to Nigerians, the same way you voted him in, take your decision. If he wants to run, take your decision. Let your votes speak for you. I do not have the right to de-enfranchise him; it is even absurd that I should advise him not to run. It is okay if he wants to run if he is healthy enough to run; let him run, it is okay; but let my vote speak for me.
Are surprised that some people are urging him to run?
I won’t be surprised. The fact that some are not benefitting from this government does not mean that some people are not becoming billionaires. So those who are benefitting from this government, those who are into political career and have seen a loophole, why won’t they? If there is a change of power, such people will fall out of power.
Don’t you see anarchy looming as a result of government not effectively protecting the people from herdsmen?
It is everywhere. The luck we have in Nigeria is that we are very articulate people. We love ourselves so much that we want to avoid bloodshed.
Let us look at food security. With the massive killings by the herdsmen in the areas designated as food basket of the nation, do you foresee any danger?
There is insinuation that it is part of a deliberate attempt to scuttle food production in the South, with obvious implication. It is awful that a man will save his own source of livelihood and destroys those of others. Olu Falae’s farm was destroyed; in fact, so many farms and crops had been destroyed. You only hear about Olu Falae’s farm because he is a prominent man. What about farms of ordinary people destroyed? And we have seen an executive government that has not seen beyond the love for cows, beyond the respect for cows, beyond dying for cows. And that is why there is a campaign that the best way to counter the insurgent herdsmen’s killings is to boycott the cow meat.
What is your advice for states under siege?
Defend yourselves. Defend yourselves does not mean that you look for the enemy to attack him. No, it means that if you are attacked be prepared to defend yourselves.