While addressing a press conference in Abuja on Friday 28, February, 2014, the Northern Elders Forum had cause to decry the rising wave of clashes between Fulani herdsmen and the Tiv farmers in Nasarawa state and blamed unnamed top Federal government officials for the mayhem.
Dr. Paul Onongo a prominent elder of Tiv nation and Deputy leader of Northern Elders Forum, who addressed the press at the briefings, noted that the violence between Tiv and Fulani was premeditated solely to create tension in Nasarawa state so as to pave the way for Presidency to unseat Governor Tanko Al-Makura through the declaration of state of emergency in the state.
Though, this press conference received little or no attention from the general public, but the unfolding events in Nasarawa state following the deployment of Presidential military task force and their subsequent action on Fulani settlement in Keana last Wednesday left no one in doubt about the postulation of Northern Elders Forum as expressed by Dr. Paul Onongo. Indeed, since the taking over of mantle of leadership of Nasarawa state by Governor Al-Makura in 2011, the PDP led Federal Government has been on the throat of the state as if the election of Al-Makura was a crime. We all know that democracy entails freedom of choice, therefore why punishing the people of Nasarawa state for electing a person of their choice as their governor? It would be noted that that most often, in some states other than that of PDP, crisis that could have ordinarily been resolved through concerted efforts of security operatives were always allowed to degenerate just to cause unnecessary tension and to create bad impression in the minds of the people. The Boko Haram phenomenon in North- east is a clear case in point.
The case of Ombatse militia in Nasarawa state is another classic case in point. This is a militia ethnic group which growing activities forced the state government to outlaw it when it visited mayhem to the people but there was no concrete effort to enforce the ban on this ethnic group by the security operatives, even when it killed thousands of its personnel in Alakyo.
The only thing that the families of those killed could hear was ‘pardon’ as announced by the DG of State Security Services. Also even after white paper was released by the state government on Justice Gbadenyi Commission of Inquiry, there was nothing visible by the federal government to reassure the people of Nasarawa state that it could do something positive on issue of killings of its security operatives in Alakyo.
The reluctance of the federal government to do something about Ombatse militia was simply because as it seems, Nasarawa state was not controlled by the PDP and to cash on the situation to reclaim the state in 2015.
While we are not in anyway challenging the constitutionality or otherwise of sending Presidential military task force to Nasarawa state following clash between Fulani herdsmen and Tiv farmers, we are however worried about the speed to the which special military taskforce was constituted just 2 days after Governor Suswan along with some elders of PDP visited Presidential Villa and talked tough on danger of PDP losing North-central if action was not taken about Fulani herdsmen. Our worried stemmed from the fact that for close to 2 years now, the Ombatse militia have terrorized, killed and destroyed properties of the people of South -west senatorial district of Nasarawa state leading to the killing of security operatives yet nothing has been said or done by the federal government but finds it expedient to act fast when it affects the PDP controlled state of Benue couple with the threat of losing of votes of North- central.
As things stand today and from what transpired by the visit of Governor Suswan to the villa, nothing is more important and dear in the heart of Jonathan and his handlers than 2015 ambition not even the lives of thousands of innocent souls are more valuable than this ambition. And if not because of threat of losing North-central votes, we wonder whether the federal government could act fast the way it did in meeting the demand of Jonathan’s visitors to Villa? Nothing however is farther away from this; since even at the zonal rally of the PDP in Minna last month, President Jonathan aptly demonstrated this when he said the violence in Nasarawa state will end when PDP recaptures power here.
Ofcourse, while this writer and many of like minds, welcome every move necessary through civilized means to bring the lingering crisis between Tiv farmers and Fulani herdsmen to an end, we however reject in totality the classification of the Fulani herdsmen killed by soldiers in Keana as insurgents for in Nasarawa we don’t have rebellious people and neither do we harbour nor condone rebellion; except of -course if as some political observers are saying, the Tiv/Fulani feud in Nasarawa state was designed to unseat Al-Makura through declaration of state of emergency.
It was in the light of this that while on condolence visit on the palace of Paramount Ruler of Keana, Osana of Keana Mr Emmanuel Elayo, over the killings of Herdsmen on Friday, Governor Al-Makura said the ‘casualties are herdsmen resident in Keana not insurgents’ and suggested that the military operation should focus on tracking the real insurgents traversing the borders of Benue, Nasarawa, Adamawa, Plateau, Taraba and Kogi states.
Of course as suggested by Governor Al-Makura the military operation in the state ought to be reviewed to avoid civilian casualties and it is only a review of this operation that could reassure the people of Nasarawa state that the military operation in the state was purely for the purpose of bringing an end to Fulani/ Tiv lingering crisis not to create more tension to achieve sinister motives as insinuated by the Northern Elders Forum.
Dan- Alkali writes from Awe, Nasarawa state.No tags for this post.