A former Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada, Iyorwuese Hagher, has expressed regrets that the lame duck attitude of President Muhammadu Buhari has allowed the genocide in the Middle Belt to go on unimpeded. This he said has betrayed 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 continual Benue Genocide, Hagher said in allowing the Benue genocide to take place, the Buhari government had acted irresponsibly.
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 letter dated January 5, 2018, the two-time former minister of State said he was terribly pained that the advice he gave Buhari in a private memorandum, which was dated July 30, 2016 was completely ignored.
He recalled, “I had warned you (President Buhari) 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 28, 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 (NPN), further reminded the president that: “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 Buhari’s passion to rid the country of corruption, he had totally ignored nation building and ended up with a much divided country.
Again he stated, “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.”
Hagher, who is the executive director of the African Leadership institute based in Ohio, United States, 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. “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,” he said further.
In the same vein, Hagher said in his letter: “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.”