Herdsmen in Plateau State are presently operating like a state within a state. They kill, maim and destroy at will without provocation or at the slightest provocation.

With a thoroughly politicised military and an inept police force, Plateau State is ill-equipped to handle violent civilian conflict, given the deep religious fault lines in the State.

I agree that the lunacy and atrocities of the Nomadic (Fulani) herdsmen did not start on May 29, 2015 when Buhari came to power.

What is apparent is the fact that the herdsmen now kill and destroy not only with atavistic impunity, but with an unquestioned aura of legitimacy. The general perception today is that the herdsmen are emboldened because one of their kinsman, who is reportedly a Patron of the Miyetti Cattle Breeders Association, is now the president of Nigeria. This according to public opinion, has weakened the capacity of the Nigerian state and its institutions to deal appropriately with murderous herdsmen, thereby clothing them with immunity from the law.

This perception may be wrong. But Buhari has so far failed to disprove it. No democratic government will treat strong negative public perception with levity the way this government is doing with the issue of the herdsmen. Rather than bolster public trust in his administration by dealing decisively with herdsmen that are killing the citizens, Buhari has resorted to appeasement of the herdsmen by promoting and budgeting public funds for the establishment of grazing reserves across the country.

We cannot profess unity by words of mouth or platitudes. Unity must be backed by deliberate action. If nothing is done to contain the herdsmen, it will define the Buhari administration in the same way the kidnap of the Chibok girls defined the Jonathan government. It will be to the eternal shame of a retired General turned “democrat” that Nigeria descended into anarchy and became a country of murderous herdsmen under his watch. Like Boko Haram, the Fulani herdsmen’s attacks are resource-driven, extraction-focused, and for self-enrichment. Behind the attacks is a powerful coalition whose raison d’être is political authority, territorial expansion, visibility and wealth.

Enough of the strategic excuses.

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