Islamic cleric Sheikh Ahmad Gumi recently called for a ministry to be created for bandits and herders as was done for Niger-Delta region some years ago. Sheikh Gumi who spoke at a Pastoralist and Fulbe Security Conference held in Abuja on June 1,2022 called for the creation of the Ministry of Nomadic Affairs.
In life, the pull to follow a particular calling, to do a particular thing can be an intoxicating one. Whether it is creating solutions to already existing problems or trying to show a new way of doing things, vocation can be a powerful thing.
There are many in Nigeria who have at different times put out themselves out as having the solution to the country
s problems or the prophets that will birth its vision. However, the Nigerian experience has overwhelmingly been that many of those who have presumed to have the cure for Nigerias maladies turned out to be frauds or at best quacks.
In the bushes of Nigeria, hyenas have been let loose since at least 2009. Their free ranging kind of living has ensured that terror is what reigns freely in many of our villages especially in the North.
As death and destruction have piled up, frustrations have mounted about the identity of the murderous criminals who have taken up arms against Nigeria. Security measures have so far yielded only minimal fruits as with every threat, the teeth of the hyenas have grown only sharper.
s been the finger-pointing. In Nigerias rural communities, many of them agrarian, violent clashes have often erupted over land, that prime, precious resource, between those who must till the soil to eat and those whose need to move their cattle from time to time is as agricultural as it is cultural.
While the farmers often accuse the herders of destroying their crops by driving cattle over their land, the herders accuse the farmers of hiding ruthless cattle rustlers in their flanks.
Sheikh Gumi seems to understand the problem more than others. While there is no doubt that a good solution can only come from a place of deep understanding, such a solution can only be good if is steeped in equity and accountability.
In this wise, accountability to the Nigerian people, many of whom have watched in horror as their loved ones have been slaughtered and their homes lain waste must be given prime consideration.
It is not enough to say bandits or herdsmen. If fruitful negotiations are to ensue, then every last mask must come off. Nigerians cannot afford to be played on a negotiation table set to obscurity or trickery. Neither should the Giant of Africa allow itself to be pushed around by faceless, nameless and numberless criminals who have impaled the country for far too long.
It necessarily distills the question of justice. There must be some form of justice. For every innocent Nigerian killed; for every life irreversibly altered; for every livelihood obliterated, there must be some form of justice.
Nigeria`s descent into the reign of terror has come swiftly. But it has surely been borne on the wings of those who would rather Nigeria exists on their terms alone. Fulani herdsmen have repeatedly been mentioned as some of those. Since in the human experience, there is hardly any smoke without fire, perhaps they have some explanations to make.
Miyetti Allah, their umbrella association, has hardly helped matters. Its response to accusations about Fulani herdsmen exacerbating insecurity in Nigeria has hardly ever gone beyond issuing veiled threats.
So,while Sheikh Gumi who has been on some kind of mission to reach a common ground between Nigeria and some of the criminal groups tormenting her – he has been harshly criticized for his opinions on bandits – seems to understand what needs to be done, it must be said that the only solution that would appeal to majority of Nigerians must include some kind of framework for justice to be served for crimes committed against innocent Nigerians.
Unlike what is happening with the so-called repentant terrorists, any future conversation about offering those who have made life a living death for many Nigerians any form of respite must include provisions for justice.