More than two years after taking power, the Muhammadu Buhari presidency has finally decided that the time has come to take action towards finding a “lasting solution to the farmers-herders conflict in parts of the country. But better late than never, right?
The first in a series of consultative meetings with relevant groups on the issue took place on Monday, 11th December, 2017, at the presidential villa.
Osinbajo takes lead on this: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is taking lead on the consultations. As a matter of fact, the presidency’s sudden push on the matter follows Osinbajo’s visit last week to some Adamawa communities where he saw the deadly effects of the conflicts firsthand.
First meeting: Those in attendance were the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II; the Lamido of Adamawa, Muhammadu Barkindo Aliyu Musdafa; elder statesman, Mallam Ahmed Joda; and other leaders of the Fulani communities. Also at the meeting were Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Musa Bello. Subsequent meetings would focus on other interest groups the VP’s spokesman said in a statement.
- The meeting analysed previous reports and causes on the conflict.
- Attendees unequivocally condemned the acts of violence, especially the killing of children and women, and highlighted the need for Law Enforcement and other Government Agencies to dutifully and objectively perform their Constitutional roles.
- Osinbajo said “there is nothing much more important now, in showing our leadership, beyond preventing tragedy and destruction of everything we have built as a nation. The entire Nigeria enterprise is bigger than other interests. The overall objective is ensuring that our nation is not enveloped by another crisis.”
- We hear that, following the Vice President’s visit to Adamawa State last week, several food items and relief materials have been distributed to all the affected communities in the State.
Next meeting: Osinbajo will meet with the Batta, Bachama and other groups from Adamawa State; while meetings with stakeholders from other conflict-affected States would follow.
The one big question: Actually it is not a question – it’s an answer: President Muhammadu Buhari.
Where does Buhari stand? More than anything else, the president’s leadership (or lack of it) will determine the next phase of this crisis. One of the abiding narratives of this conflict is that Buhari’s ethnicity as a Fulani has made him not very committed to exercising the leadership required to resolve the crisis. Whatever solutions emerge from all the consultations will require a heavy serving of political will to implement because some or all the sides may not like it. Does Buhari have that will?
Everyone knows that Osinbajo could very well finish consulting and write a report while the president decides to file it away the way he did with the Babachir Lawal report submitted by Osinbajo, until Nigerians began to call him out on it on a daily basis.
Summary: Consultations, even late ones like this, are good – but implementation is better.