Are We Ready for the New Jihad?

Things are certainly happening with lightning speed in our country these days. Before you mull over the latest incident, another takes place, leaving you very confused. But the things happening are all about one thing: the menace of the Fulani killers, otherwise known as herdsmen.
These men have given terrorism another name in Nigeria, but despite being globally acknowledged as the fourth largest terrorist group, the Nigerian government of Muhammadu Buhari has continued to treat them with kid gloves. The other day, the people of Benue State conducted a state burial for, wait for it, 73 victims slain by the herdsmen. As they mourned their dead, there was no word from Mr President. Instead, the inspector general of police and minister of the interior came and only succeeded in adding insult to injury by describing the dead as victims of a communal clash, a statement that drew the ire of Benue people who told the IGP off.
But come to think of it. Have you seen a war or clash in which only one side suffers casualties? That is the war the IGP was referring to in Benue State. If we are to believe him, Benue people encountered another community in a fight after which 73 Benue died and miraculously, the other community lost nobody. Can you beat that?
Even after the Nimbo massacre in Enugu State, security reports attributed it to a communal clash. As I have always observed, if all those clashes were communal, what stopped the security agencies from making arrests? Back to our topic, lest I angrily derail.
We are talking about the New Jihad, the fresh attempts by the Muslim North to take over the rest of the country and Islamize them. Perhaps, if you think this is just another alarmist gimmick, you can do well by checking up on the present demand for the establishment of cattle colonies across the country to accommodate the herdsmen.
This demand for colonies is coming at a time when some Nigerians are beginning to settle for the idea of ranching as a probable solution to clashes between the Fulani herdsmen and their host communities. It is coming also after the North started asking for land in the various states for ranching. But curiously after it appeared that the request for ranches would be granted, they shifted gear to demand colonies.
What do they mean by colonies? We have been made to understand that in creating colonies for the herdsmen, schools, hospitals and other amenities that one sees in a modern settlement, will be built there. That means that your neighbourhood of today will suddenly become an Hausa settlement where they will live with their families, and given the way they multiply like rabbits, before you know it, you will have a stranger population competing with yours. Worse still, you will not be able to control them, they will become a government unto themselves, with protection from above. If they wish to, they can easily run you out of your place and nothing will happen, just the same way the herdsmen are doing today – killing, looting, maiming and not being arrested. So do you still want a cattle colony near your place?
If this colony of a thing eventually comes to fruition, my brother, don’t look beyond that for the new Jihad. It will have come upon you before you even know it.
This is the time our leaders have to stamp their feet down and ensure that no such colonies come near our zone. The Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, has already fired a warning to the federal government, telling it in no unclear terms that nothing such would come to Abia State.
This is no time to try to curry favour from Buhari by trying to justify the idea of cattle colonies. Given what we have been seeing and hearing in the country so far, any such establishment will portend evil, danger and possibly, war.
But isn’t it said that we are the architects of our own doom? The other day, the Ifitedunu Community of Dunukofia Local Government Area of Anambra State, said it would make significant contributions to the purchase of President Muhammadu Buhari’s nomination form for his second term. Can you imagine?
The leader of the community was reported to have stated this during the ground breaking ceremony of a federal government specialist skill acquisition centre by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige.
The community leader said they were ready to make financial contributions to Buhari’s second term as a gesture of their support, and to also have a stake in his government when he returned again.
Hear him: ‘We will support the president for a second term because he is doing well. We only need that he tells us when he wants to buy the form.’
Now can you beat that? While the Igbo Nation is under threat of the machinations of Buhari’s untouchables, the herdsmen, some of our people are already scheming for positons in a government yet to be formed (Buhari’s second term).
Is this not why we have always failed to act as one? Is this not why the North has been using our own people to divide us? They dangle the carrot stick before these our brothers and they succumb and sell us.
Only the foolish or naïve will fail to see the trend of things in Nigeria today. That trend is that the nation is titling towards a major crisis which may be reminiscent of the pogroms of 1966 that precipitated the 30-month civil war.
The way the herdsmen have been killing without remorse and the way the federal government has kept looking the other way, will only mean that tempers will reach boiling point sooner than later. Already, the reaction of Benue people to the inspector general of police when he addressed them is a pointer that nerves have been frayed and tempers reaching boiling point. It just needs a little more push, a little more touch and some mindless fool lighting the match for the country to go up in flames.
It is a pity that the presidency, rather than addressing an issue it should have easily handled, has allowed it to fester to this point, an action that has set tongues wagging and many interpretations being adduced.
But do we need to keep bemoaning our sad fate and do nothing? We can at least take necessary precautionary measures against the looming danger. For one, communities should stop allowing herdsmen to camp in their midst. This is how it starts. I’m aware that in some communities today, herdsmen are camping at their borders after obtaining their permission. But from those communities are emerging stories of how their women who go to farms are molested. Not many are ready to come out and admit being defiled by herdsmen for fear of the likely stigma. But it is happening and it is only the beginning.
It is one thing to admit these people but quite another to get them to leave. We may be shouting against the establishment of cattle colonies by the government, not knowing that we already have an army of occupation in our midst. For such an army, all they need is for government to get a legal seal for their stay there. By that time, they may even be the ones to dictate to you which area of your community belongs to you or not.
The old Jihadists embarked on an all-out war against their opponents; the current Jihadists are more subtle. They are coming in the guise of herdsmen, okada riders, shoe shiners and security men. They are all playing their little parts in the achievement of their major goal.
So if you want to hire a security man for your house, please make sure that man is one of us; somebody you will know where to find if he doesn’t turn up one day. We shouldn’t be preparing for war while within us are the very people we are about to fight. That will be tantamount to going to gather fruits with a bag harbouring an animal that eats fruits.
Our local transport unions should equally be mindful of those they allow to join them, especially okada riders. These people permeate every corner in neighbourhoods, and have the ability to monitor, gather and pass information. It is true that as Nigerians we normally ought to feel free to live and operate anywhere in the country but these are not normal times.
Government here should re-energize the village vigilantes. In many communities, the vigilantes are no more active as they are owed. They should be empowered heavily by the government so that in times of danger we can rely on them.
We have seen from the experiences of Benue and Nimbo that we cannot entirely rely on the regular security apparatus. Both Benue and Enugu governors told how they tried to pass information of threat to security they gathered to the appropriate quarters but nothing was done. As in the case of Nimbo, the security people there curiously left their position and that night the herdsmen moved in and wrought terror among the host community.
Even if the regular security people want to do their work, they can’t go against any order from above. That’s the reality. I spoke about this with one police man and he confirmed this. He said they only acted on orders. So what are we talking about?
I implore our governors to prepare for WAR. If eventually nothing happens, we have nothing to lose; but if something does happen, we will not be found wanting. The New Jihad may be just around the corner!