Africa’s most populous and biggest economy, Nigeria, is under siege. A combination of the Boko Haram insurgency, banditry and inter-ethnic feuds have elevated mass murders to a daily occurrence, making nonsense of President Muhammadu Buhari’s pre-election pledge to make the nation safer.
As one of President Buhari’s predecessors Olusegun Obasanjo pointed out in a recent letter to the Head of State, the West African country is tottering dangerously towards a cliff and it is only the President who could forestall the inevitable fall.
Though the Boko Haram have wreaked havoc on Nigeria for more than a decade, laying to waste huge swathes in the northeast, it is the clashes between herders and farmers that seem to pose the greatest challenge to national survival. In the past two years alone, hundreds of Nigerians have died in the clashes between Fulani herdsmen and the farming communities in central Nigeria.
There was a real danger that a cycle of revenge attacks could trigger off something more disastrous — akin to the 1994 Rwanda genocide. President Buhari is a northerner of the Hausa-Fulani stock and any offences by his community are inclined to be seen through the ethnic lenses, that some people are being emboldened to harm others because one of our own is in power.
Nigeria, often and aptly described as Africa’s sleeping giant, has the potential to rise up again to be great. Great nations have been built by bold and honest people committed to the good of the majority, not a select power elite.
As President Buhari serves out his second and final constitutional term, his focus must be on his legacy, the greatest of which would be a more cohesive and peaceful Nigeria. No partisan interest should come between him and the greater good. Peaceful and successful Nigeria is good for the entire continent.