Former Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada, Ambassador Iyorwuese Hagher, has expressed regrets that President Muhammadu Buhari has allowed the genocide in the Middle Belt to go on unimpeded, thus betraying his campaign promise to Nigerians that his government ‘‘will always act in time and not allow problems to irresponsibly fester”.
In an open letter to Buhari on the Benue State killings, Hagher, a professor, said in allowing the genocide to take place, the Buhari government has acted irresponsibly and allowed problems to fester and failed to act on time.
He said: “You have also failed to lead from the front; giving the impression that centrifugal forces around you are dictating vicious anti-people agenda!”
In the open letter dated January 5, 2018, the two-time former Minister of State said he was pained that the advice he gave Buhari in a private memorandum dated July 30, 2016 was ignored.
Hagher reminded the President: “I had warned you of the possibility of a horrendous genocide in Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Southern Kaduna, and Southern Adamawa States. I asked you to be proactive and stop the genocide that has been ongoing but which would burst out in the open and shock the world within 18 months. Your office replied my letter on September, 28th 2016, and the reply was couriered to me in the United States, thanking me “immensely” and giving me the assurances that the advice would be heeded.
“With the current situation on ground, I regret to now inform you that it is seventeen months since my warning and prediction and your government did nothing to pre-empt or prevent the genocide. The nomadic terrorists have finally accelerated the ethnic cleansing in Benue State. They have strategically moved against the Tiv, the largest minority ethnicity in northern Nigeria. These perpetrators believe that if they can ethnic cleanse the Tiv, then nobody can stand in their way to possess the land and carve a new geo-polity and demography for the middle-belt.”
Hagher, who was a Second Republic senator on the platform of the defunct National Party of Nigeria, further reminded the President: “The protection of lives and property of the citizens is more important than your war against corruption! The protection of lives of citizens is the most sacred responsibility of the state and your presidency. Your government has failed woefully in this regard. Mr President there is no greater corruption than the government looking the other way while the strong bullies and kills the weak with impunity and pleasure!”
He regretted that in President Buhari’s passion to rid the country of corruption, he had totally ignored nation building and ended up with a very divided country.
He said: “You have failed your immediate Northern constituency by your inability, failure or lack of the political will to end northern poverty through measures that enhance school enrolment, promote girl-child education, and revive dead industries.”
Ambassador Hagher, who is the Executive Director of African Leadership institute based in Ohio, USA, noted that Buhari became Nigeria’s president on the altar of northern unity when the northern minorities abandoned President Goodluck Jonathan to vote for him.
He said: “You have now desecrated that altar. By refusing to arrest those that brutally butchered defenseless innocent Benue women and children, you have imperiled northern unity and taken sides with evil.
“Many Nigerians think you have failed the country by the lack of a clear vision and a lack of capacity to provide needed infrastructure and a composite holistic development; more significantly, they think you have failed to institute a political culture of integrity. You are often compared with the lone King Sisyphus of Ephyra who was punished by the gods to roll an immense border up the hill, only to watch it roll back down, then condemned to repeat the same rolling action forever. This is the picture people have in mind of your war against endemic corruption. You honestly deserve pity and prayers, but certainly not support for a second term.”
While acknowledging that President Buhari still has a horde of admirers, who still look up to him with great admiration, Ambassador Hagher however said: “The Benue genocide seriously questions your integrity, and your capacity to lead a plural modern state. Is there a rule of law in this country? Why does the Miyetti Allah act with so much impunity? Is this because this terrorist group claims you as their life patron? Do not accept the clamour of those who for their personal political reasons urge you to contest in the 2019 election to be a second term president! Mr. President, please rise above the impression being given that you are just another power obsessed and hungry politician!”
He advised President Buhari to “step aside and open the political space for another person to continue your war against corruption with a more comprehensive development program that Nigeria needs and deserves.
“For now, modernize infrastructure and try to banish poverty. And while your party campaigns for 2019, take a sabbatical from partisanship and build national unity, good governance and concentrate on getting rid of Boko Haram and the Herdsmen Terrorists. After all, great people are not great for winning elections; rather they are known to be great by the legacy they leave behind. With what legacy do you wish the country to remember you for? It is unfortunate that family members of those that were hacked to death will remember you as the genocide president.”