Nigeria has been besieged by a series of cattle herder – farmer related clashes recently. While these attacks by Fulani herdsmen have recently received a boost in front-line news value due to recent attacks further south, such raids by these predominately nomadic herdsmen have been going on for years in Northern Nigeria. This is a problem that has transcended the administrations of both the current APC led government and the previous PDP government.
The current geographical spread in attacks isn’t necessarily suggestive of an increase in scale and volume however. It is important to note that the recent spread in attacks has coincided with the retreat of Boko Haram forces from their areas of dominance in the North East, this is probably not a coincidence. It has often been suggested that elements of this terrorist group have infiltrated or quite often assumed the identity of herds men in order to carry out these attacks, knowing fully well the public outcry towards attacks in Southern Nigeria will far outweigh the outcry to attacks in the North Central and North East where killing and destruction have occurred for decades.
The motives for such a move are obvious;
(1) force the Nigerian Army to reallocate resources further south to combat the menace thereby taking pressure off their forces in the North East.
(2) Increase Ethnic tensions in the country in the hope of sparking an Iraqi style sectarian but in Nigeria’s case ethnic clash that will further weaken the Government and Army thereby bolstering their chances of succeeding in the establishment of an ISIS style caliphate in Northern Nigeria.
The Nigerian government more than ever needs to respond to the menace, but getting the demanded results will require a unified political front as any attempt to politicize the crisis will only likely escalate ethnic tensions in the already agitated populace.