NIGERIA – Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, Garba Shehu, says it is unfair and unkind for anyone to say his boss is condoning the killings perpetrated by suspected herdsmen.
President Muhammadu Buhari has been accused of not intervening directly in the clashes between farmers and herdsmen.
In a statement on Tuesday, Shehu said Buhari condemns the violence at every turn and is prepared to permit every possible step that can lead to the end of the killings.
“It is therefore both unfair and unkind, for anyone to keep insinuating that the president is condoning the spate of killings in Benue and other neighbouring states,” the statement read.
“The president is conscious of his duty to Nigerians, not least because he is held accountable for everything that goes wrong. He deeply sympathizes with the families and all the other direct and indirect victims of this violence. He is determined to bring it to a permanent end.
“While there are many Nigerians who see the conflict between the nomadic herdsmen and peasant farmers as an ethnic problem, others point to religious differences and agenda. The president does not subscribe to such simplistic reductionism.
“President Buhari holds the view, as do many experts, that these conflicts are more often than not, as a result of major demographic changes in Nigeria.
“The killings must stop and the security agencies have the President’s support to do this as quickly as possible.
Whipping up hate may captivate the public and score political points on social media, but it will not bring an end to the crisis. Let every stakeholder instead sit down with the government and security forces and carry everyone along in finding an all-embracing solution.
“As a father, a military general and a statesman, president Buhari has maintained lasting relationships with Nigerians, Muslims and Christians among every ethnic group. It is also a known fact that the young people who trek the whole distance of thousands of kilometers tending the cattle do not own the cattle. In fact many of the cattle are not owned by Fulanis or Muslims. The point is that it is too simplistic to see the conflict as ethnic or religious.”