By Dons Eze, PhD
If Darius Ishaku, Governor of Taraba State, and Samuel Ortom, Governor of Benue State, have their way, there would be no Nigeria Police Force. There would be no Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps. Even the Nigerian Army, in so far as they are involved in internal security, would have gone .
In their estimation, all these federal government agencies have woefully failed the nation. They have failed to defend and protect the lives and properties of Nigerian citizens.
Since that is the case, these two Governors want every Nigerian to take up the gauntlet and begin to defend him or herself. They want every Nigerian to be issued not just with dane or double barreled gun, but with AK-47 automatic rifle, which releases several rounds of bullets at a time.
Amid myriads of security challenges facing the country, Governor Ishaku told 15 local government chairmen of the state who paid him a condolence visit after the burial of one of them who was kidnapped and subsequently killed by gunmen, that the worsening insecurity in the country had gone to its lowest ebb, and demanded reawakening.
According to the governor, “the security in this country has gone to the lowest ebb and we have to all wake up. We, as leaders, have given our advises severally as to the change to the security architecture, you cannot keep doing one thing over and over and expect a different result.
“If we cannot be able to provide security for our citizens, then allow all the citizens to buy AK-47, because if everybody is licensed with AK-47, I swear nobody will come to your house, or peradventure he does, then it depends on who is faster.
“In a situation where we are all gagged with one security system that has been unable to work, and we are told to sit down and be counting the day our turn will come, I do not agree with it”, Governor Ishaku stated.
Governor Samuel Ortom was even more blunt. He accused President Muhammadu Buhari of bias towards his Fulani tribesmen, reminding him that "he is the President of Nigeria not the President of the Fulani tribe where he hails from".
Speaking to newsmen in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, Ortom noted that Buhari had in 2015, pledged to be the President of everybody and nobody, and therefore should serve the interest of all Nigerians.
He posed the following questions: “Why is the Federal Government being silent about these Fulani herdsmen? When will Federal Government come out and criticise and arrest herdsmen carrying AK-47? When are they going to do that? Are we second (-class) citizens in this country? Why, (is) the Fulani men superior to a Tiv man? I am not their slave, a Benue man is not slave to any Fulani man in this country.
“We stand for justice, equity and fairness. Whatever is happening to a Fulani man should also happen to a Tiv man. That was why I called the Federal Government to license me and many others to have guns, to have AK-47 too. Because if I have my AK-47 and a Fulani man is coming there, he knows that I have and he has, then we can fight each other.
“But you can’t disarm me and arm a Fulani man. This is not right, the Federal Government is biased, it is unfair. The failure in security is caused by Federal Government.”
Governor Ortom reminded President Buhari that: “You are the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, you are not the President of Fulani. You are the President of everybody and I owe you a duty as a stakeholder in this nation to let you know that what is going on is wrong and this has the potential of dividing this country, which will not be in the interest of anyone – some of us believe in the unity of this country.”
We salute the courage and boldness of these two governors. We salute them for their fearlessness and frankness in calling a spade by its name, and not just a digging instrument. We salute them because they did not, out of fear or cowardice, keep silent over the pains and agonies of their people, caused by the murderous Fulani herdsmen and their sponsors. As our own Wole Soyinka would say, "the man dies in him who keeps silence in the face of tyranny."
It is unfortunate that some people, because they are in power, will make us to believe that there is a particular ethnic group that owns Nigeria, while others are their slaves or mere appendages. For the Fulani herdsmen to be allowed free access to automatic weapons, which they use with impunity to cause mayhem in society, and nobody frowns at it, is an afront to conscience of many other Nigerians.
But if, per chance, out of frustration, as the two governors had proposed, every Nigerian is licensed to carry AK-47 rifle, it will march force with force. Before you harm me, I will get over you. You cannot arm a Fulani herdsman with AK-47 and leave others unarmed. That is why the Fulani herdsmen have been operating with impunity and reckless abandon, because they know that the people at the other end cannot effectively challenge them.
On the other hand, if every Nigerian is allowed to carry arms, you can imagine what the country would turn into. It would, as Thomas Hobbes had envisioned, turn into the state of nature, the primitive world, where life was short, nasty and brutish. There would be anarchy, lawlessness and disorderliness. Many Nigerians are sick upstairs, and thus, if given the guns, would become wild animals.
We should therefore not allow the country to degenerate to this stage, because of myopia or selfishness of some few individuals currently in the corridors of power.