The title of this piece was my considered response to the expressed concerns of some of my friends to the posted threat on my 20th July 2016 article: Some things never change, published in this newspaper.
The threat reads, “Nigeria is an Islamic country… convert or perish…”. The post merely echoed a historically hidden agenda; the latent, but ruthlessly pursued agenda to convert Nigeria into an Islamic country since her independence in 1960. But long before Nigeria’s independence, Islamic Jihadists, both from the far North and from the outer fringes of Northern Nigeria had carried out countless invasions with the singular objective of conquering the Middle and Southern Nigeria. However, try as they would, the fanatical Jihadists never could make appreciable gains southwards. As history tells us, the passionate loyalty of the Middle Belters and Southerners to their cultures far exceeded the Jihadists’ fanaticism. Details of the epic battles that were fought pursuant of that Jihadists’ agenda prior to Nigeria’s independence are well chronicled in the history of West Africa.
As my July 2016 article postulates, that agenda to conquer and subsequently culturally subjugate the Middle and Southern Nigeria to the perpetual rule of the far North has continued since; albeit in a somewhat subtler manner. All the published intelligence on the marauding herdsmen in Nigeria speak of the same cowardly military tactics of the Jihadists of yore: sneak into communities in the dead of the night and slaughter sleeping men, women, and children; rape vulnerable girls and women; cart away spoils, and disappear into hidden holes. This is an irredeemably cowardly act, worthy of a spineless tribe – refer to the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) Roundtable Discussions on the crises on the Northeast and Northwest o Nigeria.
The aforesaid brings us to the paradox of the murderous herdsmen challenge. Benue and Plateau States, the two principal target victims of the herdsmen attacks are renowned for their warfare prowess. Both States have produced some of Nigeria’s finest military personnel. Yet, these cowardly marauders insist on attacking these evidently in-conquerable peoples. Why then do they persist in these attacks? I would answer that it seems that these latter day Jihadists-in-the-the-cloak-of-herdsmen have adopted the attitude that since their target victims are in-conquerable, then do the next feasible thing: strike permanent fear in them, so much so that that they become amenable to gradual assimilation eventually. Now, this proposition has to be properly contextualized within the unfurling narratives on the herdsmen attacks in order to appreciate its validity.
First, President Muhammmadu Buhari, a grand patron of the herdsmen, and an eloquent advocate of grazing colonies across the country, looked askance while the herdsmen took innocent lives at will. When he inevitably had to speak on the vexatious topic, Mr. President egregiously pleaded with the mourning States of Benue and Plateau to accommodate the murderous herdsmen(?) On the extreme incident when over three scores and ten innocent Nigerians were put to the knife, Mr. President still was not moved to undertake a sympathy visit to the affected State, even when a ranking traditional ruler in Benue State expressly begged for such a presidential visit. Mr. President’s best response on the occasion was to half-heartedly direct the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to relocate to Benue State.
(Like some knowing persons who have given their views on the matter, I fail to see how such relocation would enhance the operational efficiency of the police) And, as though confirming his boss’ half-heartedness, the IGP overtly didn’t relocate. And most telling, Mr. President seemingly got to know about that curious disobedience only when he undertook a belated visit to Benue State. Over two weeks following, the name of Nigeria’s IGP hasn’t changed; very interesting, indeed.
Just as tellingly, this seemingly lethargic, if absentee president has been vigorously working his fingers to the bones to deny Nigerians the freedom of speech through the instrumentality of a Hate Speech Act.
I dare say that it is illogical, if intellectually fraudulent for the National Assembly to even entertain that Bill, having regard to the Freedom of Information Act, which was passed into law only recently. You cannot in one breath expand and contract the right of the citizens to receive and issue information.
It goes without saying that the sponsors of the Hate Speech Bill have a hidden agenda, not unlike the secret agenda to convert Nigeria into an Islamic country. Again, contextualizing this proposition for the purposes of clarity, I should like us to recall one of Mr. President’s earliest remarks to his kith and kin, on assuming office in 2015: “…please join hands with me to finish the work of Ahmadu Bello…”. The late Northern region premier’s name is synonymous with the secret agenda to conquer and culturally assimilate the Middle and Southern Nigeria. (It is worth recalling that international scholars have copiously written about the geopolitical importance of Nigeria to the Arabic-Islamic imperialism. Let us also recall that on the one occasion when former President Goodluck Jonathan made to talk with Boko Haram; the latter interestingly demanded that the former convert to Islam as a condition precedent to any discussion).
Thus, in my view, the ultimate aim of the marauding herdsmen’s minders is, strike disarming permanent fear into the Middle Belt communities; gradually acculturate them; and methodically extend that acculturation scheme to Southern Nigeria; the while legally deny them the right to speak out against this evil act. This was the reason l told my concerned friends back in July 2016 that “We cannot fear now”. My decades of spiritual development had previously confirmed to me that to fear is to decouple one’s essence from the greatest power in the universe, God. Another reason collective Nigeria should not fear, in spite of the rapidly darkening clouds over the landscape is that history has proven time and again that those nocturnal invaders are physically and mentally inferior to bona fide Nigerians.
Incidentally a thousand angels have recently revealed to me, following my January article on the theme, “Herdsmen challenge: grow grass in Mali and Chad”, that those marauding herdsmen are to be seen in the light of an acutely endangered species; their homestead having become arid some centuries back due to some uncertain spiritual misalignments. Therefore, fellow compatriots, l confidently affirm to thee, we do not have cause to fear; let us strengthen our collective faith by constantly paraphrasing the famous Jewish Psalmist: The Lord is our Shepherd, we cannot fear now…
• Afam Nkemdiche is a consulting engineer, lives in Abuja