The Fulanisation of everything by Buhari’s government forced each region and states to think of homegrown solutions. It is evident that such Fulanisation has also changed the trajectory of the country’s flight which is moving into the Bermuda triangle. The regions understand this.
Not only did Buhari’s Fulanisation philosophy create insecurity and poverty. It also alienated traditional allies and distorted several processes. People watched with mouth agape as Miyetti Allah’s spokesman said their group killed thousands of persons in Agatu, Benue state because they rustled their cows. The security agencies did not rein-in on that murderous group to arrest those responsible for the killings in Agatu and other places in Benue. Before Agatu, it was Nimbo in Ụzọ Uwani Local Government Area of Enugwu State. While they seemed to have laid low in Benue, Taraba and other places, they moved to South West, killing, raping, kidnapping and destroying farmlands. From the South West, it might be the turn of South-South. They have been wrecking havoc in Delta though.
The inability of the Buhari’s government to checkmate these atrocities and Buhari’s penchant for always showing his 150 cows increased the potency of these attacks but were also a strong optics for the rest of the country to understand that there is an official cover-up from Aso Rock, hence the need for homegrown solutions. With the push from South West, not even those eyeing 2023 presidency could stop the formation of Amotekun. Those in the South East failed to heed to the battle cries of their people to form a regional force to counter the herders’ menace. The last Ohanaeze leadership favoured a regional security outfit but in a surprising volte-face, the Dave Umahi-led South-East governors Forum dumped the idea of a regional security outfit and went with the IGP’s special constabulary.
Enters ESN. Nature abhors a vacuum. Since the governors failed when the people called on them to set up regional security outfit, those in competition with them over the soul of the East set up one for them. I wrote two days after Kanu shared pictures of thousands of ESN recruits that for him to pull that off without the knowledge of the security agencies, showed the group IPOB as more sophisticated than people actually think. It is also a complete U-turn from his expletives-styled rhetorics where he used to insult those he ought to make allies of. All I am seeing is a group that has moved from empty rhetorics to strategy. There are so many gaps just as there are fears but tomorrow is a great determinant.
However, the reality on the ground is that a good number of people from the South East seem to be at peace with the ESN initiative. People simply want to be secured and move around without fear, and as it stands, they don’t care if it is the devil that ensures such safety. The slogan now is that “it is better to live with an Ak47 wielding ESN member than an Ak47 wielding herder”
But how did we get here? The Fulanisation philosophy of Buhari pitched the whole country against his ethnic group. His inability to stop the killings by herders, most of whom are not Nigerians set fire in a house filled with petrol. Then the inability of the South-East governors to mitigate the disaster led to other unconventional approached.
ESN poses moral questions, reason why security agencies have not swooped on them like they’re wont to. First: the setting up of other militant groups in other regions and states makes it less probable for the police and the army to attack them. Second: the fact that they only operate in the bushes is a strategic approach. I mean, unless the police and army hear that ESN members moved against local farmers, necessitating them to move into the bush to fish them out, it is morally unjustified to allow Fulani herdsmen to move around with assault rifles despite their atrocities against farmers and then move into the and attack those whose aim is to stop them.
So many persons have expressed fears about the sincerity of the ESN thing; whether they will transform into a militant wing and attack those who disagree with Kanu. Well, I express this fear too, about the sincerity of the group not to derail from its assignments. Will they likely to derail? Yes! What then will be our solution if they become a nuisance? An Igbo proverb says Alusi kpakata ike, egosi ya osisi e jiri kpụọ ya.
However, I think that the governors should be pragmatic, rise to the occasion and set up a regional security outfit to secure our people. If and when they do this, ESN will cease to exist. If the governors say they have banned open grazing, what enforcement measures were set in place for compliance? Because I saw cows on the streets of Nsukka two months ago.
In other development, the Rivers State Government says its neighbourhood watch and safety corps will begin operation in March. Recall that they were to begin operation in 2018 but soldiers invaded the training ground at Nonwa in Tai and chased all of the cadets away while arresting their instructors. Soldiers claimed Wike was setting up a militia. Wike also said that they will bear arms.
Since South West set up Amotekun and IPOB set up ESN, any local government chairman that decides to set up a security outfit and arm them won’t get a rebuke from the FG. People are trying to clean up their mess. State governors will also stop funding the federal police and instead, fund their own security outfits if they can guarantee peace and safety of lives and property.
State Policing is this close, all thanks to Buhari.