Dissecting cattle ranching, grazing, colony in Nigeria (II) By Michael Ayotunde
All over the world, governments are known to engage or employ strategic measures to win over the support of their people.
Either through carefully selected, actionable programmes of action or even propaganda, they try as much as possible to do so with utmost decency, decorum and cautious collaboration.
It has been argued over and over by well-meaning Nigerians and other experts, analysts that for a reasonable government to make substantial impacts in the life of its citizens (in the case of Nigeria, people that are heterogeneous in nature and widely scattered), the place of robust negotiation and proper engagement should not be relegated to the background. As a matter of fact, it should be accorded prime importance in the scheme of things.
But just like the popular saying that a dog that is poised to miss its way, will never heed the hunter’s whistle. Instead of the General Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to thread cautiously, decisively, and be pro-active in its dealings and honestly address the myriads of problem facing the country, particularly the senseless clashes involving marauding herders and farmers across several communities in the country, it has chosen to be a reactionary one.
Sadly, the reactions coming from the Federal Government and its agencies are multifaceted, diversionary, insensitive and callous. This speaks of a government that is neither here nor there.
To this end, Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir E’lRufai, among other notable individuals in the north have said the perpetrators of the clashes were foreigners AND NOT indigenous Fulani herders in the country.
In the same vein, after its purported investigation of the New Year massacre in Benue, the Department of State Security (DSS) also issued another statement that foreigners were behind the senseless attacks on the people of Benue.
In another twist of turn, however, the Nigeria’s Defence Minister, Mansur Dan Ali, a man who is supposed to be the custodian of the nation’s security architecture, after the president, came out to tell us that the passage of anti-open grazing laws in some states of the federation was responsible for the killings of hapless, defenseless farmers in the country.
He went further to make reference to grazing routes which have been in existence since ages and that any sudden attempt to block those routes is a potential threat to peaceful coexistence.
Why people may not bother about certain politicking in the country, certainly they will not take lightly the very type that involves human life, and where the government is seen to be speaking with both sides of its mouth.
The simple question to our minister, (did I say our minister? No, it can’t be. That must be a slip of tongue because he doesn’t seem to represent every section of the country – by virtue of his utterances) is – What have laws enacted within Nigeria’s territory got to do with marauding foreign herders, to the extent that they have the free will to come into the country, and in the process kill, maim, destroy property of people seen to be opposed to their PRIVATE/PERSONAL business? Or, are the so-called grazing reserves established to cater for the foreign herders, going by the minister’s statement?
Also, are laws now made in Nigeria to protect foreign interest at the expense of the citizens? How come this same government appears to be docile when it comes to nipping in the bud this ugly trend?
Sure, the killings have continued unabated contrary to wide spread views that security agencies are on top of the situation, from the time of the now forgotten Agatu massacres and several others in that order.
Sure, the ill-conceived outbursts from government officials regarding the root cause of the clashes were met with public opprobrium. The backlashes, sure, didn’t go down well with FG, a development that may have necessitated the recourse to relaunch the anti-hate speech policy.
The Federal government, in an apparent move to douse open confrontation in the face of glaring insensitivity to the plight of the people; unbridled abuse of office; dereliction of duty; and just as former president Olusegun Obasanjo put it in his famous letter to president – the glaring condoning of scary scandals by the FG-led administration – under which conditions probation from members of the public would be the last thing government and its Shylock officials expected; the highly controversial ‘hate speech’ palava seems to have found footing.
But before they take it further beyond this level, what in actual fact constitutes this their so-called hate speech and the underline motives? As we speak, the government, and or rather the proponents of the controversial policy have yet to brief us the details.
Or may be it is going to be a reserved right of select few, to determine and decide what is regarded as hate speech.
An adage says an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.
The seriousness with which FG and its officials were reeling out venom to deal decisively with peddlers of hate speeches in the country, if such zeal has been deployed and properly channeled to address critical issues facing the country, the nation would have been better for it.
Under their watch, Nigeria is sliding into a nation where there’s no more respect for human life; where the sanctity of human life has been thrown to the bush; where innocent blood is spilled virtually every second, without remorse and authorities never bother, never in hurry to halt the incessant carnage; instead, they’re busy dancing on the grave of innocent souls who have been cut in their prime, and in the process aggravating the frustration and helplessness of families of victims of such devilish acts.
Nigeria, as a matter of fact, have turned to a nation with no record of births, deaths; all we hear are unrealistic figures – 12 killed; 73 buried in mass grave; 13 died in auto crashes; assailants killed 10; Zaria Massacre: 325 killed; cultists went on killing spree etc, no records, no proper identity or identification of the hapless victims whatsoever, nothing. And sadly, we have accepted that as part of our societal norms.
This is where we have a very big question mark on the accountability, sincerity and integrity of our supposed leaders.
How accountable are they? To whom much is given, much is expected. It is a natural law. You cannot be given much and now be seen to be taking side, encouraging injustice, nepotism and outright disdain for inclusiveness.
The feelers coming from the committee set up by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), and headed by the vice-president Yemi Osinbajo, that FG will jettison the proposed cattle colonies and that states should device means to end the incessant clashes is welcome. We pray they follow it to the letter, and much importantly, before the next general elections.
It doesn’t end there. There have to be painstaking overhaul of security apparatuses in the states. The era where Commissioner of police is not answerable to the governors should be discarded. Sure, we are well aware there are some governors whose modus operandi is highly controversial and questionable. As such, they may want to reign in to abuse the system. There should be a system in place to checkmate that.
With the turn of atrocities lately, it is obvious the Nigeria Police Force can no longer maintain security in the trouble locations. And where you now have the army being deployed to maintain internal security across more than half of states of the federation, who says all is well in the country?
No doubt, there is anger in the land; there’s strife; there’s frustration; there’s is hunger; in the economy front, there’s huge uncertainty; in the political realm, there’s dangerous politicking; selfish ambitions have taken the place of service delivery and common good; generally, the situation is precarious – no thanks to the 2019 general elections.
Trust the career politicians, the game plans have started in earnest; the schemings are taking shape gradually. But if you ask me, how many of them truly mean well for the country? It is still the same old story – go in there, amass whatever you can, then come and turn yourself to a semi-god.
It is not out of place to say very few are actually in politics for the common good.