Across the country, but especially in the middle-belt region, herders and farmers have engaged in fireworks recently, leading to the loss of scores of lives.
Within the last 48 hours, not less than 40 lives have been lost in Benue and Taraba States alone. In Wukari Local Government Area of Taraba, at least 25 were reportedly killed by Fulani militia.
The verbal version of the fireworks spread to the Senate on Thursday, after the Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Senator Enyimnaya Abaribe, (Abia South, PDP) described President Muhammadu Buhari as “incompetent” in his handling of security challenges especially the herders and farmers clashes.
Abaribe raised Order 43 of the Senate Standing Orders 2015, as amended to speak and criticised President Muhammadu Buhari for his comments in London.
Senator Abaribe said: “This chamber has discussed the killings in Nigeria. I recall that on the matter of herdsmen and farmers’ clashes, two explanations were given by highly ranked security. The Inspector-General of Police said that these killings were as a result of laws being passed by states. Secondly, the Defence Minister said these killings were as a result of the blockage of grazing routes. And we continued to look at all these explanations.
“Yesterday (Wednesday), in London, the Commander-in-Chief and President of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari said that these killings were as a result of the people who were trained by Muammar Gaddafi, implying that these people who are doing the killings in Nigeria are invaders from outside of Nigeria. If so, it validates my last point that when a commander-in-chief says he cannot take care of invaders, why is he still a Commander-in-Chief?
“Why do we still continue to indulge this president that goes along to tell everybody outside this country that he isis totally incompetent? It is obvious…”
The Senate Leader, Dr. Lawan Ahmed, stopped him short. Relying on Order 53 of the Senate Standing Rules, he declared that President Buhari deserves the respect of the Senate adding that the PDP Senator was displaying “bitter politics of the opposition”.
Abaribe would not budge in the face of angry retorts by mostly All Progressives Congress (APC) Senators.
But Ahmed told him: “The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the leader of this country and deserves the respect and courtesy of this chamber and those of us in it. I was once a member of the opposition and I do not recall ever calling the then President or insult him.
“This is our institution. If we do not conduct ourselves with respect, nobody will. I want to ask my colleague to immediately withdraw his statement and apologies to this chamber.”
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, alap frowned at Abaribe’s comments.
“We can make our points without using words that are offensive. Please be guided accordingly,” he added.
“I am very well guided by you but there are words that there are no alternatives to. What I did was to interpret the words by Mr. President in London. If any word I used is misunderstood by anyone, I apologise. What I am saying is simple. The heads of security in Nigeria made several explanations for the killings of our people. It shows that there is a disconnect.”