UK Parliament warns Nigeria may become another Rwanda, wants Buhari voted out in 2019
The United Kingdom (UK) House of Lords on Thursday expressed worry about the inability of the President Muhammadu Buhari government to end killings in Nigeria, warning that ethno-religious violence in the country may escalate to the Rwanda type genocide if the federal government remained complacent about it. The concern followed a debate on the recent killing of about 200 people in Plateau State by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
In what appeared like calling on Nigerians, especially Christians to vote against Buhari, one of the UK parliamentarians, Baroness Berridge said; “The 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections in Nigeria provide the best opportunity for Nigerians themselves to demand their government deal with this crisis… I hope Nigerians, especially Nigerian Christians, will realise that much more of the solution is in their hands than they perhaps realise,” Berridge said in her contribution to the debate.
In an impassioned debate in the UK parliament on Thursday following the murder of about 200 people in Plateau State by alleged herdsmen, the House of Lords warned the Nigerian and British governments that remaining complacent about the violent attacks could plunge Nigeria into the type of genocide that happened in Rwanda.
The debate which held between 2:16pm and 3:02pm, saw various UK lawmakers expressing concerns about what they described as “ethno-religious cleansing” going on in Nigeria and the inability of Buhari to stop the carnage and hold perpetrators of the violence to account. They noted that the violence, if not de-escalated, would have far-reaching effect on the 2019 general elections.
During the debate, the lawmakers adduced reasons for the worsening violence in the country. Baroness Berridge alleged that the violence visited on farmers in the North and Middle Belt were a part of Jihadist movement. Berridge said, however, that the solution to the problem was in Nigerians’ hands, suggesting that the citizens should use the 2019 elections to demand an end to the violence.
“The 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections in Nigeria provide the best opportunity for Nigerians themselves to demand their government deal with this crisis… I hope Nigerians, especially Nigerian Christians, will realise that much more of the solution is in their hands than they perhaps realise,” Berridge said in her contribution to the debate.
Another member of the House of Lords, Baroness Cox, who said she had visited Nigeria “many times and seen the tragedies of death and destruction in Bauchi, Kano and Plateau states”, noted that there were concerns that “the Fulani militants are now so well armed that they are possibly fighting a proxy war for Boko Haram” with the shared agenda of driving Christians out of their homelands in the North and Middle Belt.
Cox said, “There is real fear that these developments are part of a strategy by Islamist fundamentalists to drive Christians out of their traditional homelands in northern and central-belt regions of Nigeria. I urge Her Majesty’s Government to respond appropriately to the very real possibility of religious cleansing.”
In her own contribution to the debate, Baroness Goldie said the violence could worsen and become politicised ahead of the 2019 elections, preventing elections from holding in some states.
“As Nigeria prepares for elections in 2019 there is a real risk that, without serious effort being made to stem the violence and address the root causes, the conflict between herders and farmers will worsen and become increasingly politicised, threatening peaceful solutions and elections in some states. It is imperative that there is a de-escalation of violence across all affected states,” Goldie stated.
She commended Buhari’s commitment to fighting extremism, but said, “The Nigerian government has not asked for assistance from the Commonwealth or from other countries.”
Another lawmaker, Baroness Stroud, asserted that the story of worsening violence in Nigeria was indicative of successive Nigerian governments’ failure “to manage the country’s wealth, and of a deeply ingrained culture of corruption”.
Lord Alton, who led the short debate, had warned that the Rwandan genocide could repeat itself in Nigeria, saying, “This alone should serve as a wake-up call. Are we to watch one of Africa’s greatest countries go the way of Sudan? Will we be indifferent as radical forces sweep across the Sahel, seeking to replace diversity and difference with a monochrome ideology that will be imposed with violence on those who refuse to comply? We must not wait for genocide to happen, as it did in Rwanda. Ominously, history could very easily be repeated.”