ABUJA (Sundiata Post) “Herdsmen that we used to know carried only sticks and maybe a cutlass to clear the way, but these ones now carry sophisticated weapons.”
—President Buhari, speaking in London today.
I thought his supporters said herdsmen do not carry sophisticated weapons, that we were merely stigmatizing herdsmen.
I thought his Defense Minister said the problem was not armed marauding herdsmen but the blocking of the grazing routes.
I thought his IGP said the problem was not armed, murderous herdsmen but the anti-open gazing laws.
We’ve been calling for disarming and confronting these armed herdsmen with lethal military force for a long time, but they said the herdsmen were not armed and that armed herdsmen were not the problem.
Now, finally, the president has acknowledged what many Nigerians have been saying about the familiar herdsmen of old who used to carry sticks and machetes and the armed herdsmen militias of today.
The question is, what changed the president’s mind? Another question is, why was he saying something different at home (remember when he essentially doubted that herdsmen were armed with sophisticated weapons by saying cynically that the police should arrest any herdsman seen carrying arms?) while saying something else abroad?
Finally, why did many people have to die before he came to this obvious realization that herdsmen are now carrying “sophisticated weapons” and sacking and intimidating farming communities out of their ancestral lands?