I sympathise with Sheik Gumi who out of share envy by detractors has been going through severe stress and strain since his triumphant return from the den of killer herdsmen, kidnappers and vicious bandits; a no-go area for our soldiers, police and the DSS. His daring adventure has brought some relief to Nigerians. Contrary to what our security men made us to believe, at least we now know the mythical bandits that kill, kidnap, confiscate farmlands, reducing in the process, their surviving victims to candidates of IDP camps were not ghosts that disappear into thin air after each harvest of deaths. We now know they are, according to Gumi, disgruntled Fulani herdsmen that, Abubakar Kawu Baraje , former PDP chairman and until recently APC stalwart, claimed were imported by politicians for elections with no incentive to return to their country after graduating into lucrative banditry and kidnapping business with the potential to make millions from one victim as against selling one cow for N100,000.
There are other reasons Gumi has come under vicious attack of disgruntled shortsighted Nigerians who freely deployed hate messages against the respected cleric. With near absence of governance following President Buhari’s unique administrative method of ‘delegation by abdication’ which allows his ‘loyal gatekeepers’, who many believe do not necessarily share his pan-Nigerian vision, issue statements on all issues in his name, there was a vacuum of leadership in the country. With a caged president and governors who were “attending wedding parties while Nigeria was burning”, Gumi by his daring intervention, easily fills what many Nigerian see as a leadership vacuum.
We must not forget the narrative before Gumi’s daring trip to the lion’s den. First there was a change of fortune for our soldiers. The government declaration of technical victory over Boko Haram was at the end a pyrrhic victory as ‘liberated’ Sambisa Forest’ the military told us was going to be converted to games village was retaken by the insurgency.
Then killer herdsmen unleashed free reign of terror over the middle belt region of Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa and Taraba. The battle then shifted to the north-western states of Zamfara, Katsina and Sokoto. Both Kaduna and Katsina states tried payment of ransom to criminal herdsmen without bringing much relief to the residents of both states who have to pay ransom to harvest their farm products.
In no time killer-herdsmen cells were discovered in the mangrove forests of southern states of Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo and Ogun with many recorded cases of mindless killings, kidnapping and raping of women. In the case of Ogun State, hundreds were driven from their homes by herdsmen to the neighbouring Republic of Benin. Then there was a looming anarchy as Shehu Garba and governor of Bauchi State encouraged AK-47 wielding herdsmen illegally occupying Ondo’s Forest Reserves to resist Governor Akeredolu’s quit order.
With the president caged in Aso Rock presidential palace refusing to personally react to pressing national issues, there was an appearance of absence of governance. Gumi quickly took up the challenge of leadership. He first met with the invincible gangs in Kaduna and Zamfara to negotiate an end to mindless killings, displacement of thousands from various communities in the north and their peaceful surrender. He then met with the bandits behind the abduction of 27 students and 15 others from the Government Science College, Kagara in Niger State rounding his adventure with a meeting with Niger State governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, on February 19, informing him: “I’ve spoken with them (bandits) face-to-face and they are ready to lay down their arms if their conditions are fulfilled and I find all the conditions they gave as justifiable”.
However, Nasir El-Rufai, who paid condolence visit to Kerawa, Zariyawa, government areas where 41 people were slaughtered after deploying taxpayers’ money to pay bandits raised objection, noting that the bandits cannot change from their ways and should be brought to justice instead. He believes bandits terrorising Nigeria have lost their rights to life under the constitution.
His declaration that “In Kaduna State, we have zero tolerance for bandits. We don’t give them amnesty; we don’t negotiate with them” has however only led to renewed siege on Kaduna resulting in recent kidnapping of about 20 students of Greenfield University in Kaduna State which Garba Shehu, the president’s senior special media assistant attributed to “the ongoing military and police offensive against terrorists in the Birnin Gwari and Kajuru forests”.
Add the above to the looming anarchy in Imo State following the torching of the state governor’s personal house as well as many police stations across the state leading to death of many policemen, with Sunday Igboho’s crusade against suspected killer herdsmen in Oyo State, with minister of defence asking Nigerians to confront AK-47 wielding bandits and kidnappers, with Obasanjo’s warning about forcing Nigerians to self-defence and Theophilus Danjuma actually calling on Nigerians to defend themselves against killer Fulani herdsmen; with the fear of the infiltration of many institutions of state by terrorist sympathisers, With Miyetti Allah insisting there would be no peace in the country except their members in line with Fulani culture, are allowed to embark on open grazing across the country and with a crumbling economy under the weight of $86.3 billion (N32.9 trillion) national debt, inflation above 18 per cent, unemployment at 33%, and the naira exchanging for N480 to the dollar, the country needs a messiah.
Let us rate the front runners.
By rejecting negotiation and insisting banditry must be crushed when all he could get from the presidency after the latest attack on Greenfield university leading to the abduction of 20 students was Garba Shehu’s “expression of the presidency’s deep sadness and regret over the bandits attack”, El Rufai was ignoring Zik’s admonition that it is only a mad man that argues with a man with a gun.
On his part, Gumi claims he is making “attempt at talking to herdsmen to drop their guns, insisting they are “militants fighting for ethnic survival, and are kidnapping to make money… adding it’s either we as Nigerian sit down together and iron things out or go astray and come back to do what should have been done in the first place”.
President Buhari, who promised to lead from the front is nowhere the rear. He probably thinks the problem will disappear without action. All we hear are the hollow voices of his ‘loyal gatekeepers’ whose every incendiary pronouncement appeared designed to portray their principal a Fulani president as against a man who secured an overwhelming support of Nigerians and a mandate to resolve our crisis of nation building.
Although Gumi will reject the title of a messiah having pointed out that Isa (Jesus) was punished because people called him a messiah, but if you ask me, I will readily agree the country be handed over to him lead to lead. After all, it is said, a people deserve the leadership they get.