Buhari’s Big Burden – TELL Magazine June 11 Publication

[ctt template=”5″ link=”qflS5″ via=”yes” ]Buhari’s Big Burden – TELL Magazine June 11 Publication[/ctt]

As the next general election draws near, President Muhammadu Buhari who prepares to run for a second term in office is confronted with challenges capable of turning the table against him and his party.


President Muhammadu Buhari’s May 29 Democracy Day broadcast to Nigerians was a manifest irony to the people of Benue State. He enthused that it was “a celebration of freedom”, reaffirmed that “Public safety and security remains the primary duty of this government” and his description of the globally condemned massacre of farmers in the Benue Valley and across the country as “herdsmen and farmers clashes” is considered simplistic and uncaring. Since January 1, 2018, Benue Valley has neither celebrated freedom nor known safety and security. Benue leaders refuse to accept the incidents as lashes, but attacks because their people are always the victims, most caught unaware by the invaders.

A few days before Buhari’s speech, the Christian community in Nigeria buried two priests – Fr. Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha – and 17 worshippers who were murdered in their church on April 24 by herdsmen during morning mass at St. Ignatius Quasi Parish in Ukpor-Mbalom in Mbalom village. Gwer East local government area of Benue State. Among the victims were two school head teachers, Peter Dick and Ape Chia, and a secondary school principal, Michael Tor. About 100 houses were also burned down in the village. Governor Samuel Ortom is sad because as he said the security agencies, firmly in the hands of the federal government often treat information from his government with ignominy, thus giving the invaders a free reign.

For instance, Benson Abounu, then acting governor of the State raised alarm one week before the attack, which affected five villages. Yet it happened. “We have received security reports which indicated that a large number of armed mercenaries have moved into Benue Valley and had mapped out five different locations in the state to launch attacks on five communities. The reports showed that the mercenaries would carry out the attacks on the communities occupied by people in the riverine areas of the state.” The Benue State police command confirmed the herdsmen were “about 30 in number and the target was the priest and the venue of the burial.”

The Director of Communications, Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, Rev. Father Moses Iorapuu, lamented that killing the priests “means total destruction of everything we stand for and believe in as a people.” He affirms that the killings are a jihad, not a contest for grass, and smacks of internal conspiracy. “The police seem to know nothing of the attacks which have been going on in other villages in Benue State since the Anti-Open Grazing Law came into effect last year. Many people are asking why the international community has remained silent over the massacre of Benue citizens. The answer is simple: It has been the goal of the Jihadists to conquer Benue and Tiv people who resisted their advance into the Middle Belt and the Eastern part of Nigeria since 1804; they are people who rejected Islam and fought for the unification of Nigeria in the civil war of 1967 – 1970.” This gives room for two theories to be read to the attacks. First is the theory of religious cleansing, and the second ethnic, or what some regard as expansionist tendency. Hear Darius Ishaku, governor of Taraba State: “it is a drive for territorial control,” by the herdsmen…

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