On Tuesday, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said President Muhammadu Buhari should not be blamed for the persistence and lackadaisical approach towards the Fulani herdsmen crisis. Obasanjo’s reaction to the lingering crisis is questionable.
While speaking at the 23rd annual Lift Above Poverty Organisation (LAPO) Development Forum in Abuja, the former president said, “Now because the President of Nigeria is a Fulani man, then you would expect him to jump up and say this one is condemned and all that, no. That is not his job. And when people make comments like this, it annoys me.”
Obasanjo furthered said it is the responsibility of local and state governments to deal with the crisis; “They say the President hasn’t said anything about this, that he used to be the patron of something… but I believe that the ranching thing failed because the states and the local governments failed to do what they ought to have done.”
“I need to state that it is the responsibility of local governments to take care of them. Now, states should have even done a lot better, (but) they haven’t, and then when you have cattle rustling, herdsmen, and farmers’ conflict, you try to make it a national issue. But it is not really a national issue,” Obasanjo said.
The former president was wrong to have absolved Buhari of the yet-to-be-addressed havoc caused by the rampaging Fulani herdsmen. As the president of Nigeria, Buhari is sworn to protect lives and properties of Nigerians. It was not advisable for Obasanjo to have implied that such responsibility should be transferred to local government chairmen and state governors.
The rampaging Fulani herdsmen have been designated the fourth most deadly terrorist group in the world, only behind Boko Haram, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL), and Al-Shabaab. Such a deadly group cannot be handled with levity. Similar rampaging groups have been met with government security forces, including the Niger Delta militants and the Boko Haram sect.
According to the Nigerian system, security outfits are under the control of the federal government. The Nigerian president, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has the utmost prerogative to deploy soldiers to address the crisis, a power that governors and local government chairmen don’t have.
The Fulani herdsmen crisis continues to grow day by day with no serious intervention from relevant organs of government. Obasanjo’s comment is a dangerous shift of responsibility that could have adverse effects in the country.