Lesson #1: Any attack on Benue state is met with 5 times the outcry, sympathy and national condemnation of an attack on the Plateau.
In fact, I posit that the national outcry of an attack on one Benue village is comparable with the outcry of five attacks on the Plateau.
Reason being that: the entirety of Benue State, from the “Heads” (i.e., the Governor, Deputy Governor, Senators, House of Reps members etc) to the “Body” (ordinary citizens, farmers, social media activists, teachers, youths etc) speak with one voice – saying “WE CONDEMN THE ATTACKS ON OUR PEOPLE” and loudly too.
Contrast that with Plateau.
If an attack happens in Jol, Sho, Rim, Ancha or Manguno, the “Body” (i.e., ordinary citizens, youths etc) will condemn the attacks and utilize social media to draw the attention of the nation and world, but our “Heads” (elected leaders etc) either deny there was an attack, dispute the casualty figure, say it was reprisal for cattle rustling or blatantly chastise social media users for making too much noise about it.
The outcome: Inspector general of police was directed by the president to relocate to Benue to forestall further attacks etc. And the president has been meeting with key stakeholders to find a lasting solution.
Such is the impact, when the “Head” and the “Body” speak in unison –the impact is extraordinary. If however, the “Head” and the “Body” continue to contradict and conflict each other –like we see in Plateau, Nasarawa, Southern Kaduna etc –then the general public will be confused –as to whether there was an attack or not. Resulting to an ineffective outcome.
The above explains why the Agatu attack remains prominent in every Nigerian’s minds, but Dogon Na Hauwa doesn’t. Every Nigerian remembers that approximately 300 people were killed by herdsmen in Agatu, but how many remember that over 500 were killed in Dogon Na Hauwa? How many remember that the Benue phenomenon is a fairly new one, compared to the Plateau one which has been going on for decades -with at least 50 killed every week at the peak of the crisis?
It also explains why the Saf Ron (first class chief) and other chiefs will be killed and the outcry lasts only a few days. Imagine if a first class chief in Benue were murdered? Furthermore, imagine it were an Emir in the Kano or Katsina.
Lesson #2: Giving a “state burial” to the victims sends a strong message of unity and “oneness” in Benue state.
The “state burial” given to the dead makes the statement: “WE VALUE OUR DEAD AND CONDEMN YOUR DESPICABLE ACTS”.
Each of the 73 had their names called out at the ceremony, with a minute silence and final respects paid. The announcer didn’t just say, “73 people were killed in Benue” –like how we have turned our dead in Plateau into mere statistics (no names, no records, no dignity etc).
Each of the dead was given personality and remembered appropriately. They were also placed in coffins and put in graves with head-stones for remembrance etc unlike ours where they are poured into one “unmarked” mass grave that will be forgotten after a few years. This sole act of honouring the dead by the Government remains etched in the minds of all Benue citizen and will not be forgotten.
Contrast that with Plateau.
If there were an overnight attack in Bassa, Jol, Sho or Rim, we will be busy trying to hide/distort the facts, diminish the number of the dead or blatantly deny it. We’d be politicising the attack for political gains as opposed to trying to solve the raging problem. We’d be blaming APC, PDP or worst still, blaming the Beroms, Anagutas, Irigwes, Mwaghavuls, Ron Kuleres etc.
I would like to point out that, that both APC and PDP leaders were resounding in condemning the attacks. David Mark (PDP), Lawrence Onoja (APC), Gabriel Suswam (PDP), Samuel Ortom (APC) etc all combined together to expressed displeasure and attended the burial. This consistency of approach is what leads to great impact and results.
(1) BENUE: See below: the pictures of the “state burial” – each in his/her own coffin
(2) PLATEAU: See below, pictures of a typical burial in Plateau. All are dumped in a mass grave which is usually unmarked.
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