Muhammadu Buhari is Nigeria’s commander-in-chief. But if you’re looking for who to blame for the massacre of rice farmers in Borno State, don’t look in the president’s direction.
The buck now stops at the desks of Nigeria’s unelected, Buhari-appointed military leaders whom the president says he “had” given every tool needed to combat the scourge of insecurity in the land.
That is the takeaway from the president’s response after suspected Boko Haram terrorists, on Saturday, descended on rice fields at Zabarmari, in Jere Local Government of Borno State, and slit the throats of at least 40 farmers.
The farmers apparently commited the crime of disarming and arresting a Boko Haram member who had been wrecking havoc on the community.
The terrorists, undeterred by the military’s ongoing, and nationwide, “Operation Crocodile Smile”, responded with mass murder.
“I condemn the killing of our hardworking farmers by terrorists in Borno State,” President Buhari said early Sunday.
“The entire country is hurt by these senseless killings. My thoughts are with their families in this time of grief. May their souls Rest In Peace.”
President Buhari, according to media aide Garba Shehu, said his government had given all the needed support to the armed forces “to take all necessary steps to protect the country’s population and its territory.”
In other words, the gruesome killing is the fault of the Nigerian Army and other arms of the military whom Buhari “had” given all tools necessary for combatting violent crimes. Buhari “had” played his part of being leader-like enough of giving “all the needed support”. No one should blame the president for any failure on the part of his incompetent appointees.
But the president did not mention the fact that many of these Boko Haram terrorists — who murder civilians, police officers and soldiers — are, once they claim “repentance”, given amnesty, “rehabilitated”, “deradicalised” and reintegrated into the society against which they committed crimes against humanity.
And this “deradicalisation” programme is funded by public money. In the light of this, how can the soul of Boko Haram victims possibly rest in peace?
The president also forgot to mention the fact that he has refused to sack any of his service chiefs whom he admitted could not make Nigeria any safer than they already have, if Nigeria is safe at all.
“They have tried their best,” Buhari says but refuses to engage other brains seeing that the current “best” is not enough.
Last Thursday, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar III, raised alarm over the surge in violent crimes in the northern part of Nigeria. He said 76 people were killed in a Sokoto community only a few weeks ago but the mass slaughter never made the news.
The sultan’s comment was similar to the words former Kaduna senator Shehu Sani would later say about how mass killings have become the norm in northern Nigeria under Buhari’s watch.
Reports also say bandits and terrorists now go about demanding millions of naira from farmers before they are allowed to harvest their crops. Some reportedly pay up to N300 million per harvest. The insecurity in northern Nigeria — a region known for agriculture — is one of the reasons food has become so expensive in the country, experts agree.
But the president, who is notorious for blaming Nigeria’s problems on anyone other than himself, would rather pass the buck than fulfill the oath of his office to keep the people safe.