Barely a week after his controversial ‘we are going to treat them in the language they understand’ comment plunged the country in trouble with microblogging company, Twitter, President Muhammadu Buhari has again opted for the same choice of words to respond to the menace of bandits and cattle rustlers in the northern regions of the country.
Speaking during an interview on Arise Television, Thursday, on the menace of bandits and cattle rustlers terrorizing the north, Buhari said he has given the Armed Forces and the police instructions to be ruthless with bandits and vandals terrorising the Northwestern part of the country, and ‘to treat them in the language they understand.’
“The problem in the North-West; you have people over there stealing each other’s cattle and burning each other’s villages. As I said, we are going to treat them in the language they understand.
“We have given the Police and the Military the power to be ruthless. You watch it in a few weeks’ time there will be a difference.
”Because we told them if we keep people away from their farm, we are going to starve and the government cannot control the public. If you allow hunger, the government is going to be in trouble and we do not want to be in trouble. We are already in enough trouble. So we warn them. Sooner than later you’ll see the difference,” Buhari said.
Also addressing the problem of kidnappings for ransom, President Buhari said he had ordered all security operatives to be ruthless and deal with the abductors in the “language that they understand.”
“Keeping people away from their families only to extort them is a very wicked thing to do and I have issued an order to the Police, army to deal with the bandits ruthlessly. Sooner or later, Nigerians will see improvement.”
However, when asked to clarify his earlier controversial statement on dealing with ’criminal elements in the South-East in the language they understand’ and also the threat to revisit the 1967 Civil War experiences on those destroying property and assets of government, especially in the region, Buhari said he meant that security operatives would go after the criminals responsible for the unrest in the region.
“When I said that we would talk to them in the language they understand, I meant that we will use the Police to arrest the perpetrators of the violence in the South-East,” Buhari said.
On the contentious issue of State Police, President Buhari maintained that it was up to state Governors to step up to the task and engage people at the grassroots level in order to fight insecurity.
“The governors need to sit up and do their jobs. They should meet with leaders at the grassroots level and engage them. These leaders know most of these criminals because they all cohabit together. They should meet with them quarterly or annually to discuss security situations with them. This way, they will be able to gather intelligence on what is happening in their states. They cannot just go round during elections, only to win, relax and expect others to do their jobs for them.”
Buhari, during the interview, also insisted that the ban by Southern Governors on open grazing was uncalled for, frowning at the claims by Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom who had accused him of aiding and abetting the excesses of the herdsmen.
“I have given orders that grazing routes should be investigated and any cattle rearer found wanting should be prosecuted. Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom said that I am pampering the cattle rearers because I am one of them.
“While I won’t deny that I am one of them, I think it is unfair that he accused me of that. A Fulani man from Mauritania or the Central African Republic looks like the ones in Nigeria so I doubt that it is Nigerian Fulanis that are perpetrating those acts. What we have is the problem of accountability.
In what appears to be a Cache 22 situation for state chief executives in the country who have tried to set up security apparatus of their own to check the rampaging and destructive herdsmen, Buhari, during the interview, urged state governors to go after killer herdsmen terrorizing their states and stop expecting him do everything for them.
According to him, the incessant attacks on farmers by herdsmen, is a threat to food security in the country.
“You know these people more than I do, and you are democratically elected to protect your people. Don’t sit idly expecting me to do everything, take action.”
On the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB), Buhari said the police and military will go after them, adding that many Easterners also have businesses across the country and nobody was disturbing them.
Buhari described IPOB as “just like a dot in a circle,’ adding: “They have nowhere to turn to. They are spread everywhere and they have investments and properties everywhere and in other areas.
“They don’t know what they are doing. How we will handle them is to mobilise the police and the military to go after them.
“Visibly we have made progress in the North-East and South-South, but I’m overwhelmed by the problem in the North West and I’m going to get it very soon.
“I will allow Nigerians to discuss and appraise my eight years in service, I hope they will be fair to me, I will not want to say it myself.”
Buhari stated that he expects Nigerians to spend time and look at the state of the nation, especially as regards security and the economy since he emerged as the president in 2015.
“Nigerians should look at where we were when we came and where we are now. I hope Nigerians will be fair to me, that is all I need,” he said.
Buhari also disclosed that instigators of the #EndSARS protest had planned to remove him as president, even as he blamed the protests on the dwindling inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) to the country.
Buhari declared that those who participated in the protests have made Nigeria unattractive to investors.
“This question (how he plans to improve Nigeria’s FDI) was answered last year when there was the #EndSARS protest last year. You remember the young people that wanted to march here and remove me?
“Tell the young people to behave themselves and make the country safe. Then we can attract real investors to the country.”
Speaking on what he plans to do after office in 2023, Buhari said he will be going back to face his cattle business.
“I have never abandoned my farm. I still have a number of cattle. When I leave office, I will go to my farm daily and keep myself busy.
“Between now and then, I try to keep convincing Nigerians that I’m doing very well, I will make sure we identify the problem we have in security, economy and will continue to work with it,” he said.