Former President Olusegun Obasanjo at the weekend laid wreath at the graveside of 73 Victims of Fulani herdsmen attack in Makurdi. He Spoke to Journalists, explaining why he decided to lay wreath at the graveside among other Issues, AUSTINE TULE was there for The AUTHORITY and brings Excerpts:
Since the beginning of the year, Benue has been under severe attacks, this place where you’re standing 73 persons were buried, 83 persons have also been killed after this burial, what is your feeling coming to this place to register your condolence?
It is sad, it is sad beyond description for me and that is why I have taken it upon myself, having been to Maiduguri where we held a meeting of the Zero Hunger Forum, where if circumstances had been normal here in Benue State, the Governor would have been with us because the first meeting was held here in Benue State, and I thought I should, coming from Maiduguri, stop here to pay a condolence visit and share the sadness of the people of this state with them.
And I thought coming to this grave side and laying a wreath will express sufficiently my sorrow and my sympathy and empathy with the family, with the Governor, and all the people of Benue State and in indeed all our people in Nigeria without any exception because the loss of a Nigerian life anywhere is a loss to all of us.
And the situation you have described that since the death of these 73 that are buried here, there have been more than 80 others killed in different parts of Benue is even more shocking to me to hear, and I believe it will be more shocking to many Nigerians who would be hearing that as you put it across.
There is no doubt that we haven’t got it right. We haven’t got it right because whatever is behind this, normally in any civilized society, we must get to the root of it, and until we get to the root of this we will be burying victims. We will be assuming what is not assumable. We must know why, why is this is happening and who will put an end to it.
Somebody must accept responsibility to put an end to this or if it has to be collective responsibility then so be it. But there must be an end to it. We cannot talk of a free country, a secured country, a country where we will want development to take place, where we will want to invite investors from outside and from inside and we are suffering this type of senselessness.
This should be the responsibility of leaders and of course they must leave no stone unturned to find what the root cause of this is and a stop to it.
There are over 170, 000 IDPs in the camps, just one of them has over 34, 000 displaced persons, will you like to take time to visit these places where there is despair?
I would see anything that is worth seeing but it is not despair that I want to see. What I will want to see is hope. What I will want to see is bright faces on beautiful people. What I will want to see is happiness of the people. Noting can be worse than what we have seen here, graveside of innocent people. People that should not have died that are dead. In fact displaced persons still have hope but the people that are buried here; they are lost and lost forever. What do we want to say to their families, those that have their fathers and mothers slaughtered? What do we say to their children, those that have their children slaughtered, what do we say to their parents, those that have their loved ones slaughtered? What do we say to those who they are leaving behind? But because if I have taken the time to come here I will spare time to see anything that is worth seeing but seeing and sympathising and giving condolence is one thing, finding solution is the thing that we must all endeavour to do.