The Demagogue In Benue State And The Rest Of Us
Samuel Enyi Otsapa
In contemporary Nigeria, particularly since 1999, no politician and/or political office holder in the country has mastered and deployed the tool of demagoguery like the current governor of Benue State. He and his hired lackeys and yes-men in government are so skilled at utilizing this tactics that if you are one of the few who is not deceived by it, you are regarded as an enemy of Benue State. Recently, one of the governor’s diarrhea-mouthed aide on media challenged the gubernatorial candidate of the APC in the state to dare condemn Fulani attacks – because the government he speaks for believe that the APC candidate is in bed with the Fulani (because he allegedly received financial donations from certain Fulani politicians) who they have succeeded in painting as the attackers and enemies of the state. Yet, the presidential candidate of the government’s political party is also Fulani – and he is likely to support him during the election.
Folks, it is no longer news that insecurity in Nigeria, owing to the ineptitude and nepotism of President Muhammadu Buhari, is rising and continuing and like other parts of the country, Benue State has had and is still having her own share of national terrorism expressed through violent attacks of farmers and communities by suspected Fulani ‘herders’, kidnapping and crime like armed robbery. It is also not a secret that state governors, like the governor of Kaduna State recently reiterated during a morning interview on Channels Television, are not in charge of security in their states, even though they are regarded as the “chief security officer”. A state governor in Nigeria cannot order/command any head of security in his state because the President is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces. Governors can only appeal to heads of security but they are not obligated to carry out their directives. This is one of the reasons security in Nigeria is not proactive since Abuja is the command center.
So we know that for every life lost and every property destroyed anywhere in the 23 local government areas of Benue State, the person to be held responsible is President Muhammadu Buhari and not the governor of the state. We know that for everyone in Benue State who is now an internally displaced person, it is the failure of President Buhari that led to their present pitiable predicament. We also know that for any community that has been sacked and burnt down in Benue State, the blame is on the shoulders of the president and not the state governor. And yes, we also know that the president is Fulani and many of those who carry out these hideous attacks in Benue State are Fulanis. But we cannot beat our chests to say that the president encourages them because they are his kith and kin. But we know that they continue because the president is inept and he is a baba-go-slow.
But the demagogue in Benue State who, since 2015, is more interested in politics than governance, continues to cash in on the sentiments of the people over attacks by Fulani ‘herders’, who we have since called out as terrorists, to mask and cover for his continuing and growing incompetence and non-performance in the more than seven years he has presided over the state. These days, his penchant and knack for politics over governance has taken a “beautiful” twist and turn as he has been traveling to Paris and London with another governor over the internal squabbles in their political party, the PDP.
The demagogue in Benue’s government house, laughably now known as the people’s house, has succeeded in taking rationality out of the people of the state when the issue of security and development of the state is the topic. He has succeeded in making the average Benue individual see every Fulani as an enemy but this is not the reality. While we are quick to acknowledge that Fulanis are mainly the ones responsible for many of the attacks in the state, not every Fulani living in the state or elsewhere engages in these attacks nor supports and/or encourages this terrorism against Benue people and communities. In fact, not every attack is perpetrated by a Fulani as some indigenes of Benue and persons of other ethnic groups from other states also carry out attacks for financial gains because they know that the demagogue in government house and his hired lackeys would blame the Fulani for it and the people would believe them.
It is time for Benue people to ultimately see him for who is he; a political leader who latches unto their sentiments over attacks by the Fulani to cover for his many failings and failures. It is time for the rest of us to see that not every Fulani is an enemy and that some among us are also involved in this wicked “business” because of the ineptitude and non-performance of this demagogue. If he pays salaries and pension as at when due, you can bet that many locals who hunger forced into conspiring and attacking their own people wouldn’t have become involved. If he had paid attention to developing the infrastructure in the state, it would attract local and foreign investors and by so create jobs for the millions of unemployed young men and women, the insecurity situation in the state notwithstanding (Kaduna is a case study). It is because of this non-performance that Benue State sits last (36th) on the 2022 fiscal performance ranking released by BudgIT. You can be sure this demagogue would blame insecurity for his inability to develop infrastructure but is Benue suffering more insecurity that Borno (20th) and Kaduna (2nd) where the governors are performing? No!
Indeed, there are Fulanis who are attacking, killing and sacking communities in Benue State and we have a president who is complacent through his ineptitude and nepotism but this Benue demagogue is a bigger enemy of the state and people than both combined. The truth you know would first hurt you but it shall eventually set you free. Embrace this truth.