Of Cattle Colonialism And Cataclysmic Criminalities
A Havard PhD dissertation by Viridiana Rios Contreras revealed that 19 out the 50 most violent cities in the world are in Mexico. Doubtless, Mexico is one of the most violent countries, if not the most violent, in the world.
For decades in Mexico, there was a lassez faire atmosphere of criminal entrepreneurship enabled by institutional and political leadership remissness that later innocuously metamorphosed into wholesale institutional complicity on a national scale.
Beginning from the early 50s, drug-related violence began to maturate in Mexico but the political leadership and security institutions failed to realize the potential devastating volatility of the monster being nursed right before them. The Mexican public also suffered from a lethal collective amnesia as their villages, towns and cities succumbed to the corrosive cancer of untamed violence. Mexico and its minders were ignorantly receptive to the mutation of a sophisticated criminality that would later seize it at the jugular and asphyxiate it decades down the line.
Through the late 60s to the 70s and 80s, the Mexican drug cartels became a law unto themselves to the level of overwhelming the state. The Los Zetas and Sinaloa Cartels compete for the trophy of the deadliest cartel in Mexico with an effective international criminal network of extremely violent franchises with ferocious capacity to kill anywhere in the world, including the United States of America. They have devastating competency for transborder elimination of their targets. The Beltran-Leyva Organization Cartel, Jalisco New Generation Cartel, Juarez Cartel and the Gulf Cartel are the premier league clubs in the murderous escapades of sophisticated criminality engaged in hard drugs, human trafficking, prostitution rings, kidnapping, armed robbery, violent extortions, oil theft, counterfeiting and precious stones heists inter alia. The erstwhile Medellin Cartel of Columbia founded by late Pablo Escobar and Carlos Lehder was another formidable international drug enterprise with equal notoriety to the aforementioned.
Mexico became one massive killing field where daily execution-style mass murders became commonplace. In the general elections of 2018 for instance, a minimum of 65 people were killed daily and by the time the body counts stopped estimated 10,000 Mexicans have been killed!
While the immediate past Mexican president, Mr Enriqué Pena Nieto, employed military onslaughts against the cartels to reduce the violence in full collaboration with the United States, the incumbent President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador’s weak response has re-escalated the violence and significantly boosted the morale of the criminal gangs that have increased their capacity to even take on the state by acquiring sophisticated assault weapons including armored tanks they use to counter the security agencies that attempt to attack them. Their plans to outgun the state seems fully on course.
A disturbing correlation is the Nigerian security dilemma. Nigeria is a typical example of Nero slept while Rome burnt. Beside a corrupt and incompetent leadership, Nigeria’s successive administrations, both military and civilian, have demonstrated a fatal lack of sociological perception that enables leaders project into the critical trajectories of a nation’s future and prepare the society for all eventualities – positive and negative. Nigeria’s security breakdown is not a sudden phenomenon. It’s symptoms and prognosis were in open exhibition but leadership failure at all strata of state management were criminally indifferent to the humming volcano.
For instance, from flag independence in 1960 to the 70s and early 80s, violent cultism was alien to our tertiary institutions. When it began gradually, the Nigerian leadership engaged in “siddon look”, nothing proactive was done to nip it in the bud at the early stages before it became the pandemic that it has become today. From our higher institutions, it cascaded to Secondary schools and even Primary schools now. From there, it coursed its way into the larger society as artisans, illiterates and all manner of miscreants were accommodated into the cult groups. Almost every community now has members of the different cult groups – Eiye, Buccaneers, Black Axe, Vikings, Ayee, Jezebels, One Million Boys among others. These cult groups are extremely violent especially when engaged in fighting for superiority and territory. The so-called trade unions of commercial drivers – the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW and Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria, RTEAN, operate cult-like. They are armed with dangerous weapons and do not believe in the democratic system of leadership succession in their Unions. Oftentimes, the stronger or the most violent faction takes over a target park, sack the executive and assume the leadership of that park, local government or state union chapter. Even in collecting their daily membership dues from members, it is violently executed. A driver deemed to be uncooperative is beaten up and sometimes killed without recourse. The drivers are at the mercy of these Union goons as the police are complicit in the open robbery of the drivers.
Reporting to the police is a waste of time because the police would never intervene to protect you or make any arrests. The Union leaders ‘settle’ the police hierarchy regularly on agreed fees per Park. It is a collaborative criminal venture between the Unions and the police force. The NURTW and the RTEAN members also clash regularly as to who takes what and it’s always bloody with innocent citizens suffering collateral damage when the violence erupts as it did two days ago at Obalende, Lagos. Oyo state, especially Ibadan, used to be the epicenter of bloody drivers’ Union violence in the South West before the incumbent Governor Seyi Makinde took office and proscribed the Unions and took over the motor parks. Since then relative peace has been reigning in the state. That’s what should be replicated nationally. Until governments at all levels see the urgent need to actively regulate the activities of these two drivers’ Unions, they will eventually mutate to intractable criminal gangsters.
Unfortunately, there is no political will of the ruling cliques to do this because these drivers’ union goons are employed by them for violent thuggery to win elections.
It was the same way that Boko Haram was allowed to rise in full public view until now that it has become a behemoth that’s threatening the corporate existence of Nigeria by holding territories within the sovereign space of Nigeria and holds itself firm within large physical territories that they have made impregnable to Nigeria��s armed forces whilst it inflicts horrific casualties on our armed forces occasionally. Boko Haram didn’t have to get this powerful if the country’s political leadership had been alive to its responsibilities.
Annually, since flag independence, the security votes have always been the highest in Nigeria’s yearly budgets. Yet there is nothing to show for it. The country invests billions of dollars annually on our security and intelligence agencies. One wonders what they do with such humongous amounts without corresponding deliveries. We have the Directorate of Military Intelligence, DMI, the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, the Directorate of State Services, DSS, Police Criminal Investigation Department, CID, Special Investigation Bureau, SIB into which billions are sunk for intelligence gathering purposes. With all those security investments, a group that began as ragtag political thugs advanced to become one of the most deadliest terrorist groups in the world today that the country has not been able to even degrade for almost a decade.
One major challenge here is the politicisation of the security and intelligence agencies which only preoccupy themselves with political espionage on the opponents of the government in power to the detriment of country’s general security that they are funded to maintain.
Nigeria is close to Mexico in comparative criminalities and it’s getting almost rather too late to reign it in. In the nearest future, except something revolutionary is done differently in the area of security administration, large and small businesses will become targets for extortion that even an ordinary cobbler would have to pay protection fees to criminal gangs to be able to open his shop including hawkers and other petty traders. Once the situation is allowed to degenerate to such lethal low, Nigeria has effectively attained the status of a failed state.
The current biggest security threats are the killer herders who seem to have procured unconstitutional immunity from the current government at the center. The Global Terrorism Index put the Fulani nomadic pastoralists as the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world but in Nigeria the Federal Government romances this terror group.
Nigeria’s president, General Muhammadu Buhari who is also their grand patron, speaks for them, protects them and encourages their indiscriminate bloodshed by ensuring that the security agencies stand aloof while they wreck havoc, kill, maim, kidnap, rape, destroy farms and grab and occupy large swathes of land from indigenous communities and turn them into internally displaced persons. Rather than protect the vulnerable citizens who are at the mercy of the murderous preoccupation of the killer herders, the government of Buhari protects the latter instead and even blame the victims for their fate by accusing them of encroaching on extinct cattle grazing routes.
There is no more evidence to prove this than what happened to the farming communities of Asa, Ibeku, Agbon, Iselu, Eggua, Oja-Odan in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State and the environs where soldiers from the 35 Artillery Brigade, Alamala, Abeokuta led herders back to those areas where they had earlier been expelled for killing their people, raping their wives and children and destroying their farms with cattle. The soldiers tortured many of the community leaders in those areas, intimidated and compelled them to allow the Fulani herders graze their cattle as they wished. When General Theophilus Danjuma Rtd, a former Chief of Army staff and minister of defence alleged that the military is not neutral and that they give logistics support to the killer herders, many Nigerians were shocked in disbelief. But with what the 35 Artillery Brigade soldiers did openly to the towns and villages mentioned above, it’s a confirmation of what General Danjuma alleged.
It, therefore, means that the Federal Government under General Muhammadu Buhari sponsors these killer Fulani herders against other Nigerians in order to achieve a premeditated agenda of Fulanisation as being rumored since the inception of the Buhari presidency. This is similar to the policy of mass ethnic cleansing of the black populations of Dafur by the Arab Sudanese government for several decades and still ongoing. The Sudanese government armed the Arab Janjaweed militias to attack large populations of indigenous black Africans – the Masalit, African Fur and Zaghawa ethnic groups – kill them and usurp their lands. It will be extremely difficult to deny that what is happening in Nigeria today is comparable to the Sudanese tragedy. Whenever the Army of a country arms militias to attack fellow citizens, it is a declaration of war by the government in power against the people it swore to protect. The current picture of Nigeria bears that image.
Now that other Nigerians are waking up to the necessity of self-help, we are getting to the boiling point that may batter Nigeria beyond redemption. A second civil war maybe unavoidable unless the killer herders are disarmed and compelled to ranch their cows in the North where they have been offered thousands of hectares of land by the Kano and Niger state governors to ranch their cows to end the persistent bloodletting.
There is no better way we can stop the killer herders’ devastations across Nigeria except by compelling them to ranch their cattle.
In his desperation to secure huge areas of land for the killer herders, General Buhari came with the idea of cow colony and RUGA. When that was vehemently resisted by Nigerians, he surreptitiously planned to get the National Assembly to pass the Water Resources Bill by which the Federal Government will take possession of all rivers in the country and six kilometers right and left of each of the rivers which he can then allocate to the Fulani herders as he wishes.
President Buhari has done little or nothing to dispel these dangerous allegations by his indifference to the daily atrocities of these criminal herders across the country.
A country governed by hypocritical designs of the leadership with a premeditated focus of ethnoreligious domination cannot escape the cataclysmic disaster of collapse attributable to the explosion naturally generated by contending forces for survival.
Robert Francis Kennedy, a former attorney-general of the United States seemed to be addressing a situation similar to our current tragic fate when he declared that “Every time we turn our heads the other way when we the law flouted, when we tolerate what we know to be wrong…when we fail to speak up and speak out, we strike a blow against freedom, decency and justice”.
What is killing Nigeria is leadership failure. All other factors are mere extra calamities.
Mark Adebayo is a human rights activist and acting national chairman of KOWA party.