The PIB Bill just assented to as an Act of Parliament by President Muhammadu Buhari, is a mere ruse, a monstrosity, an artifice and device, carefully crafted, incubated and delivered, to actually do irretrievable violence to Nigeria’s progress and juris corpus. The Act constitutes a direct assault on age-long cherished principles of federalism and the doctrine of separation of powers, most ably propounded in 1748 by Baron de Montesquie, a great French philosopher.
The PIB Act seeks to frontally attack the provisions of section 162 of the 1999 Constitution, which state that all revenues accruing to the Federation shall be paid into a Federation account from which sharing shall be made amongst the three tiers of government – the federal, government, the 36 states and the 774 Local Government Areas of Nigeria. No expenditure can be made by the Federal Government outside the provisions of section 162. Nor can any monies be expended without going through an Appropriation Bill through submission of budgetary proposals. See sections 80- 84 of the Constitution. To the extent that the Act seeks to redesign the provisions of the Constitution (the fons et origo, grundnorm, Oba, Eze and Emir of all our laws), to that extent is the Act unconstitutional. It must therefore be struck down with the constitutional sledge hammer of section 1(3) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.
In a sane clime, Nigeria’s only surviving cash cow, the NNPC, ought to be totally unbundled , to make it more viable, productive, transparent and accountable to the Nigerian people. But, alas, most curiously, the Act has further strengthened NNPC’s hand of non-accountability and non-responsibility. How can the federal government alone have shares in the only viable milk industry of Nigeria, to the total exclusion of the other three tiers of government, major stakeholders, oil-bearing communities and the long-suffering people of the Niger Delta? How can an Act of Parliament, rather than assuage and ameliorate the sufferings of a beleaguered people, further compound them by reaffirming the people’s perilous status as slavish hewers of wood, drawers of water, masseurs of ego and sideline onlookers in the exploitation and use of their God-given wealth through their natural resources? The Act is nothing but a mere totalitarian and draconian piece of legislation designed to rob Peter to pay Paul.
The Act is a deliberate design by state captors to further their egoist and bachanalian self-interests. It was never designed to reform an institution such as the NNPC, nor passed to advance the principles of federalism or doctrine of separation of powers. It is most egregrious, expropriatory and unfair to States, Local government Areas and the suffering masses of the oil- bearing communities of the Niger Delta area of Nigeria. The panacea? Simple. The 36 States Attorneys- General should IMMEDIATELY approach the Supreme Court and challenge this latest Federal Government’s impunity and the outrageous acts of executive lawlessness and legislative rascality we are beholding , by invoking the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction under section 233(1) of the 1999 Constitution. That is the way to go. Allowing the Act to stay will further cement the present misguided unitary system of government that Nigeria is currently operating, under our thinly garnished disguise of a pseudo-federalism.
I am shocked that the Igbos are not speaking up at the apparent siege laid on their land by uniformed person of different categories. They range from Army, Navy, Police, Civil Defence, Customs, FRSC, etc. My journey had taken me by road from Isele-Mkpitime, where I had gone to pay tribute to a Nigerian icon, Chief (Dr) P.K.C. Isagba, the Odogwu of Isele-Mkpitime. He was one of the first Nigerians to believe in my ability as a young fledgling lawyer.
I had been handling his cases whilst at Chief Gani Fawehinmi’s Chambers. When I left as Deputy Head to set up my practice in January 1986, Chief Isagba personally went to Chief Gani Fawehinmi, to allow him move his files to me, to continue handling his cases; a request the amiable and selfless Gani granted immediately. So, Chief Isagba became my first major client as a tottering practising lawyer, trying to find my groggy feet. He became my bossom friend and elder brother.
My journey from Isele-Mkpitime, through Asaba, to Port-Harcourt, told me clearly that the entire Igbo land is locked down in a physical, psychological and mental siege, reminiscent of a civil war time.
When the Civil War ended January 15, 1970, the then military ruler, General “Jack” Yakubu Gowon, who became Head of State, at 31 and a bachelor, proclaimed the three Rs: “Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation”, which heralded his policy of “No Victor, No Vanquished.”
This was after the unfortunate failure of the 4th-5th January, 1967, of the “Aburi Accord”, that would have prevented the bloody war in which over 2 million civilians and 100, 000 military combatants were killed. Or, was it an historical mistake that these people who had already manufactured “Ogbunigwe” (series of weapons, that included detonation mines, IED, and rocket propelled missiles), with which they prosecuted the Nigeria – Biafra war between 1967 and 1970, were prevented from leaving Nigeria? Perhaps, we would today have had a Japan, Singapore or South Korea lying side by side a sprawling “giant of Africa” on clay legs.
These policies were meant to quickly heal the gaping wounds of the gruesome blood-letting, forget the horrors and evils of the fratricidal war and quickly reintegrate the Igbos into the society.
But, have these hardworking, gregarious “Jews” of Nigeria been reconciled, rehabilitated and reintegrated into the mainstream of the Nigerian society? I doubt it. Simple proof: show me any Igbo man in today’s all powerful cabal kitchen cabinet of PMB’s Government.
My journey from Isele-Mkpitime, Delta State, through Asaba, Onitsha, Oba, Oraifite, Okija, Ihiala, Mgbidi, Awomama, Owerri, Aba to Port-Harcourt, was a strangulating reminder that the Igbo, inspite of their unquantifiable contributions to the commerce, industry and innovations that drive the non-oil sector of the Nigerian economy and give it oxygen, are nearly a conquered people. The check-points along the above stretch of road are nauseating and asphyxiating, as the security agencies, including para-military ones out-do each other to harass, torment, search, intimidate and extort money from travelers.
Earlier journeys by road (I travel a lot on professional duties), had shown me the same siege through countless roadblocks: Enugu, through the Ugwogo Nike-Opi-Nsukka Road; Amansea in Awka-Ugwuoba Oji River; Nnewi, Alor, Ekwulobia, Amesi, Ugar, Umuchu; Okigwe, Awgu and Ituku Ozalla, Umuahia and Isiala-Ngwa, on Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway. On the Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene highway, you have exasperating road blocks at Michael Okpara University junction; Isingwu-Nkweogwu junction of the Isuikwuato-Uzuakoli-Ajayi-Igbere road; and the 14 Brigade Army barracks junction at the Ohafia-Arochukwu highway.
As you are crossing one check point, a mere look ahead of you, of less than half a kilometer, will reveal another barricade. It is all so frustrating. There is no war, or security breach. South East is not North East where Boko Haram still calls the shots (forget about Government’s pet words of “we have degraded Boko Haram”; Boko Haram is still very potent, controlling large areas, killing and maiming people on a daily basis. Their representative said that much at the 2nd May, 2017, Re-Union meeting of the 2014 National Conference delegates at Daar Communications Centre, Abuja, where I delivered the keynote address).
Yet, in this Boko Haram-ravaged region, you would not find this armada of security, treating the entire geo-political zone made up of five states (the least in Nigeria; some others have seven states), like a conquered territory.
It is only the recent suit by my good friend, Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, (six of us founded the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) – the first human rights body in Nigeria-on 15th October, 1987), over “marginalisation of the South East region”, that has perhaps brought to the front burner, these disturbing tons of injustice. That is why no one can ignore Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB, Ralph Uwazurike’s MASSOB, etc, agitating for self –determination, a right sanctioned and recognised even by the UNO.
These fully armed and trigger-happy security personnel have never taken steps to protect the Igbo race, against rampaging Fulani Herdsmen that raid their homes, to maim, kill and rape their wives (remember Nimbo in Uzo Uwani LGA in Enugu State). They have never repelled the incessant reign of terror by armed robbers, kidnappers, hired assassins and murderers. No, they are stationed there for three main reasons: (1) check the bid for self determination by the Igbos; (2) extort money from the wealthy and poor Igbo traders who ply these routes; (3) remind the Igbos that the all powerful Federal Government is on ground to silence the people and force them to toe their ruling party line.
Wait a minute; is that why some prominent Igbos, including erstwhile leaders, members of the BOT and two-time Governors for eight years under PDP, have been outdoing each other to decamp to a non-performing and fundamentally flawed party like the APC?
Let me end this piece by recommending to the Ndigbos, the legendary Hubert Ogunde’s immortal words, in his most famous 1964 play, “Yoruba Ronu” (“Yorubas, think”), a stinging satire that got his theatre company banned, which ban was later lifted in 1966, by the new military Governor.
Ndigbos, cheenu echiche (Igbos, think).
(Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), is a constitutional lawyer and human rights activist)
By Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb, LL.M, Ph.D, LL.D
The Northern elites, including the Hon Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, miss the point sorely when they compare Igbo peaceful spare-parts dealers who go about their normal spare parts business legitimately, (building or renting their shops), with savage, maniacal AK-47-wielding herdsmen. Igbo traders do not kill or attack Northerners with their stock of motor-tyres, rims, spanners or chasis. They do not pour petrol from fuel tanks that they sell, on Fulani herdsmen. They do not use car bumpers or wind shields to smash the heads of herdsmen.
How does open and street grazing of cows by fully armed foot-patrolling youth which is now clearly anachronistic, diluvian, primitive and antiquated, be likened to legitimate spare parts business being carried out in shops or designated areas, with the Igbo traders paying tenement rate, taxes, water electricity and light bills? Have you ever heard of any herder paying tax? How do you equate spare parts dealers with mindless violence unleashed on poor helpless and hapless farmers in their own farms, and destruction of their crops with reckless abandon by these rampaging nomadic pastoralists who are on a mission of conquest and expansionism?
How do you compare apples with oranges, by equating Igbo spare parts dealers (who maintain log books, cash books, and accounting systems in their secluded and approved environments of peace and tranquility), with rampaging fully armed murderous bandits (passing for headers), who unleash terror and mayhem on innocent citizens? These open grazers kidnap travelers on the way, invade homes, rape mothers and their daughters and slash people’s throats, unprovoked, unmolested and undisturbed? Do Igbo traders overrun Northerners or Fulanis in their homes? Is it not the spaces legally allotted to them by the Federal Government, Local Governments, cities or MDAs, that they legitimately and quietly operate from?
How do armed herders who freely trespass on people lands, destroy their crops and other means of livelihood, and slaughter them, compare with peaceful traders plying their legitimate business? Do spare parts dealers pose security threat to their host, or anyone else? The Igbos do not foist any pre-determined supremacist hegemony and irredentism agenda or other races as the herders (many of them from neighbouring countries) are currently doing.
Freedom of movement is only for human beings. It is not for cattle, sheep and goats. Will the Northerners tolerate the open sale of alcoholic beverages in their States, even though it is the constitutional right of other ethnic groups to move about and sell beverages of their choice.
Are these Northern elites seriously arguing that Southern State Governors cannot ban open grazing in their states, to protect their innocent citizens from deadly killer herdsmen?
The freedom of movement guaranteed in section 41 of the Constitution (though for human beings, not animals), is not even absolute at all. Section 45 is pretty straightforward as regards derogation from section 41. It provides:
“(1) Nothing in sections 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41 of this Constitution shall invaluidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society:
(a) in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or (b) for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons.”
Thus, the right to movement in section 42 of the Constitution can be overridden by section 45 of the Constitution which allows any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health. Considering the incessant cases of Boko Haram killings, maiming, stealing, kidnappings, rape, armed banditry and robbery foisted on the Southern part of the country, Southern leaders have rightly taken it upon themselves to put in place laws and measures that will protect their citizens. To this end, it is safe to assert that individual rights to movement have not in anyway been violated by the various states’ anti-grazing laws because the laws were enacted in the interest of public safety, public order, public defence and public morality. The laws of and declaration by the Southern Governors are also to protect the peace, privacy and homes of Southerners as highlighted in section 37 of the 1999 Constitution. They are also for the “purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons”.
In the case of KALU v. FRN & ORS (2012) LPELR-9287(CA), the Court of Appeal made it clear that the rights to personal liberty and freedom of movement are not absolute and can be derogated from:
“The rights to personal liberty and freedom of movement, guaranteed respectively by Sections 35 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution, are not absolute…Section 41(2)(a) of the Constitution says that the right to freedom of movement may be deprived under a law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society that imposes restrictions on the movement of any person who has committed or is reasonably suspected to have committed a criminal offence in order to prevent him from leaving Nigeria”. An application for enforcement of a party’s fundamental right presupposes the right has been, is being or is likely to be violated otherwise than in accordance with the procedure permitted by law. That argument will be defeated when it is apparent that the right has been deprived of in accordance with the procedure permitted by law”, Per EJEMBI EKO, JCA (as he then was) (Pp 44 – 45, Paras G – E).
The above position of the law is further strengthened by the combined effect of the provisions of sections 4(7), 5(2), 11(2), 14(2) and 176(2) of the 1999 Constitution. Section 4(7) states that the House of Assembly of a State shall have powers to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the State. Section 5(2) provides that the executive powers of a State shall be vested in the Governor of that State. Section 11(2) gives the Governor of a State powers over the maintenance of supplies and services. Section 14(2)(b) enjoins the Governor to ensure that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. Section 176(2) makes the Governor of a State its Chief Executive. So, where have the Governors of Southern States gone wrong? I cannot see it. Or, can you?
In ASARI DOKUBO V. FRN (2007) NGSC 106 (decided June 8, 2007), the apex court of Nigeria held that national security overrides personal individual rights, where it is discovered that the individual’s right poses threats to national security. Substitute for this, States’ and groups’ rights and security supersede the individual rights of few rampaging, fully armed, AK-47-clutching and wandering Fulani herdsmen who are not merely grazing their cattle, but actually on a predetermined mission of conquest, expansionism and neo-colonialism of other ethnic nationalities. Such must be fully resisted within all legal boundaries as the Southern Governors are now doing.
WHAT THE STATE GOVERNORS MUST NOW DO
The 17 Southern Governors should immediately sue the Federal Government, invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under section 232 of the 1999 Constitution. They should ask for a determination of their right to preserve their States from insecurity. Indeed, as held by the Supreme Court in AG OGUN STATE V. AG FEDERATION (1982) LPELR-11(SC), the making of law for the maintenance of law and order and securing of public safety and public order is the responsibility of both the National Assembly and the State Houses of Assembly. Consequently, the Southern Governors are clothed with legality and constitutionality to ban open grazing. The Governors should therefore not be burdened by the opinions of other Northern States Governors, and elites, as to do so will be limiting the Executive powers of the Governors as regards the states which they govern.
By banning open grazing, the governors are merely putting a stop to one of the greatest known sources of wars and terrorist convergence in their respective states. In my humble opinion, the Governors’ call is part of their responsibilities to the people of their states as the main mandate of each and every Governor is to protect the lives and property of the people of the states they govern. The openness of the Governors to the idea of yet another National dialogue to curb the insecurity (which I however consider unnecessary in view of the unused over 600 recommendations of the 2014 National Conference) can be seen as a honest bi-partisan call to see to the end of insecurity menace in Nigeria.
PRO-ACTIVE STEPS ALREADY TAKEN BY SOME STATE GOVERNORS
Some State Governors and Houses of Assembly in Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Oyo and Osun States have since taken steps by getting anti-grazing laws passed by their Houses of Assembly. For instance, there existed and extant, section 42(e) & (g) of the Ondo State Forestry Law which prohibit cattle tresspassing and cattle pasteurisation without the authority in writing of a prescribed Government Official.Indeed, Governor Samuel Orton of Benue State has already taken proactive steps to stop being the wailing Chief mourner of his people being murdered daily in cold blood by Fulani herdsmen (many a time with the active connivance of federal troops). He got the House of Assembly to enact the anti-RUGA (Rural Grazing Area) and Cattle Colony Law, called the “Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law”, No 21 of 2017. He went further by challenging the Federal Government RUGA policy at the Federal High Court, Makurdi, in the case of AG OF BENUE STATE V. AG OF THE FEDERATION. On 4th February, 2020, Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon of the FHC, Makurdi, held that any move by the FG to acquire land for RUGA or cattle colony in Benue State without the State Government was null and void. The Judge granted an order nullifying every action of the FG to establish RUGA or cattle colony. Many constitutional provisions such as sections 5(6), 9(2), 20, 44(1), 58 and 315(5) and 6(b) were considered. Also considered were sections 1, 2, 5, 6, 26, 28 and 49 of the Land Use Act vis-à-vis sections 4, 5, 6, 7 and 19(c) of the Benue State Anti-Grazing Law.
It must be pointed out that the Governor of a State is the Chief Executive and Chief Security Officer of that State (sections 176(1) and 214-216 of the 1999 Constitution). By virtue of Section 1 of the Land Use Act, 1978, all land comprised in the territory of each State in the Federation have been vested in the Governor of that State and such land shall be held in trust and administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians. Thus, a Governor of a State commands great power in the usage of the land in his State. See the Supreme Court case of NIGERIA ENGINEERING WORKS LTD V. DENAP LTD & ANOR (2001) LPELR-2002(SC).
SHOULD SOUTHERN GOVERNORS HAVE FIRST CONSULTED THE NOTHERN ESTABLISHMENT?
The answer to this is a capital NO!
It must be emphasized that the decision of the Southern Governors does not in actuality impede the rights of cow rearers to own cattle. It merely limits their ability to openly graze on lands that are not theirs in the first place and inflict misery on the indigenous owners. The ban will also ignite more anti-grazing laws in other states in Nigeria.
Those Northern elites arguing that consultation ought to have been first made by Southern Governors before making such resolutions have not advanced any plausible argument anchored on the Constitution. In fact, they ought to applaud the Southern Nigerian Governors for willfully choosing to dialogue with their Northern counterparts and avoiding an impending doom.
The few wailing Northern elites have not explained to Nigerians why they never consulted their Southern counterparts before passing and enforcing Sharia Law in their States; or passing the various Hisbah laws. Did some of these Governors not cut off citizens’ hands for various offences, to the angst and condemnation of international communities? Did they not order for some others to be stoned? Recall the unfortunate cases of Buba Jangebe (2000), Auwalu Abubakar (23), Lawalli Musa (22), Abubakar Aliyu (15), Attahiru Umaru, Sani Rodi, Sarimu Baranda, Safiya Hussein, Amina Lawal and many others for merely either stealing a cow, bull, N32,000 or committing adultery. Did the Northern Governors consult their Southern counterparts? They did not explain why Southern Governors who are the Chief Security Officers of their States should first obtain their permission (like a pupil from a Headmaster) before dealing with security matters in their various States. It only shows their mindset of a relationship of masters and servants; conquerors and vassals; slave owners and slaves. They failed to tell Nigerians that all the Northern Governors had actually pro-actively taken a unanimous position to ban open grazing, at its virtual meeting held on February 9, 2021, presided over by their Chairman, Simon Lalong Governor of Plateau State. They had unanimously agreed that the “current system of herding conducted mainly through open grazing is no longer sustainable in view of growing urbanization and population of the country”. While urging all the Governors to meet over this matter, they agreed on other methods such as ranching. These critics of the Southern Governors hid the fact that in response to the Northern Governors’ call, the entire Nigerian Governors’ Forum of the 36 State Governors held a virtual meeting on February 11 (two days later) and unanimously agreed to end nomadic and pastoral cattle wandering, “to address the rising insecurity in the country and the activities of herdsmen…and the need for the country to transition into modern systems of animal husbandry that will replace open, night and underage grazing in the country”. They also encouraged ranching as alternative. The Northern elites carefully screened away the fact that Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, Kano State Governor’s had openly supported adopting anti-grazing measures.
Ganduje had argued in February, 2021, during his meeting with President Buhari and other APC Governors that such a ban would not only solve incessant clashes between farmers and herders, but also prevent cattle rustling. Inspite of attempts by some Northern groups to cow in, Ganduje stuck to his guns.
These Northern elites hid the fact that, as far back as 26th April, 2018, (over 3 years ago), the National Executive Council (NEC) had approved the recommendation of its sub-committee that open grazing of cattle be banned across the country.
The three-man sub-committee on herdsmen/farmers clashes constituted by the Buhari Government in February, 2018, was headed by the Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi.
It was specifically mandated to unravel the causes of herdsmen/farmers clashes (wrong usage: herdsmen’s unproved attacks on farmers is better). It was to dialogue with relevant stakeholders to end the killings of innocent citizens.
Other members of the sub-committee included Governors Simon Lalong (Plateau), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Darius Ishaku (Taraba), and Bindo Jubrilla (Adamawa). The panel was mandated to visit Benue, Taraba, Zamfara and Adamawa states.
Umahi had told Nigerians after the NEC meeting at the Presidential Villa presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, that the panel submitted its report to the Council which okayed the recommendation to ban open grazing, opting instead for the establishment of ranches in states affected by the herdsmen onslaught.
Governor Umahi, who said his team visited five states Benue, Taraba, Plateau Adamawa and Zamfara, said there were three main categories of herdsmen in Nigeria. These, according to him, are foreign herdsmen, nomadic herdsmen and migrant herdsmen, whose continued activities have resulted in clashes with farmers.
He said the NEC also agreed that the states affected by herdsmen killings should donate land for the establishment of ranches that will include nomadic schools and health facilities for their family members. Said Umahi:
“Niger and Kaduna have given lands, and Plateau is also giving land. We also agreed that through the agriculture ministry, we have to introduce new species of cows…… and to stop the further influx of foreign herdsmen into the country”.
So, where did the Southern Governors go wrong in reaffirming Federal Government and Northern Governors position? I cannot see it. Or can you?
Recall also that on September 10, 2019, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, had also inaugurated the National Livestock Transformation Plan at the Gongoshi Grazing Reserve, in Mayo-Belwa LGA of Adamawa State. Inaugurating the said project, Osinbajo said the plan was designed to run from 2019-2028, as part of Federal Government’s initiative in collaboration with States under the auspices of the National Economic Council. He said the plan, targeted at supporting the development of Nigeria’s livestock sector, was to be implemented in seven pilot states of Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara.
According to the Vice President, the plan will be implemented as a collaboration project between the Federal and State governments, farmers, pastoralists and private investors. He said:
“In this plan, the State Government or private investors provide the land, the federal government does not and will not take any land from a State or local government…Any participating state will provide the land and its own contribution to the project. The federal government merely supports…It is a plan that hopes to birth tailor-made ranches where cattle are bred, and meat and dairy products are produced using modern livestock breeding and dairy methods…This solves the problem of cattle grazing into and destroying farmlands. It ensures a practical response to the pressures on water and pasture by forces of climate change”.
He noted that the plan was designed to provide modern meat and dairy industry and, in some cases, integrated crop farming. According to Osinbajo, the unique feature of the plan is that any participating state will determine its own model. Osinbanjo continued:
“I wish to emphasise that this is not RUGA. Because the idea of RUGA settlements launched by the Ministry of Agriculture created a problem when it was perceived as a plan to seize lands to create settlements for herders…RUGA was not the plan designed and approved by the governors and the President rightly suspended the implementation”.
Thus, even the Federal Government at the centre had already opposed anti-grazing and embraced ranching. So, where did the Southern Governors go wrong? I cannot see it. Or, can you?
SALEH’S ILLOGICAL AND PROVOCATIVE INANITY
Did you read the provocative inanity uttered by one Alhassan Saleh, National Secretary of Miyetti Allah? I read it, and became more convinced that our dire national situation may be hopeless afterall. Hear him deliver his gibberish sermon:
“If the south feels because they have oil, they can show this open hatred to the Fulani, I bet you, they are late. You cannot expel an ethnic group that has a population of 17 million people from an entity. So, if the agitators want to divide the country today, or this minute, we will help. We are ready to go. We are more prepared than any other tribe.
Nowhere is this type of ban done. You can only control it. But the Fulani, by nature, move about with their animals. They are not only in Nigeria, they are all over Africa…
They (Southerners) want to force us to react but we don’t react that way. Compared to what we went through in Guinea and Sudan and we survived, this is even a child’s play. We understand that 2023 is also part of the game plan. They want to get power on a platter of gold. Nobody will give them power like that. They must seek our support. People who want power don’t behave in this matter…
Today, we are ready, let them divide the country. Let them not wait till tomorrow. We are better prepared than any other ethnic nationality. So, we are ready, let them divide the country. Let us die, we that don’t have the oil.”
QUESTIONS BEGGING FOR ANSWERS FROM SALEH
Let me interrogate Saleh’s thesis with some questions. Is Saleh really telling us that cattle breeders (just like Igbo Alaba shop owners, or Yoruba cocoa farmers, or Ijaw fishermen (examples not used in any derogatory sense but to make the point), have so cheapened the proud Fulani race of Shehu Usman Dan Fodio (born Usman bi Fudi; 1754 – 1817), that they have actually become the Fulani’s mouthpiece, their spokespersons? I cannot understand this. Or can you? So, to ensure peace, Fulani herders who “are not only in Nigeria, but all over Africa (moving) about with their animals”, should be allowed to commit genocide against other Nigerians?
Let me ask Saleh one question: who is the aggressor? Did other Nigerians invade Fulani towns to attack them? So, Saleh is saying that Fulani herdsmen who migrate from all over Africa through open borders of the North (those of the South are firmly shut) should be allowed unchallenged, as they have been doing, especially since the last 6 years of the Buhari government, to continue to attack innocent people in their homes, spill blood and rape their wives and daughters? So, Fulanis should be allowed to invade helpless farmers’ farms, kill the farmers with their sophisticated AK-47 riffles, destroy their farms and freely graze on their crops with their cattle? Oh, Fulanis must be allowed to walk leisurely with herds and hordes of cattle across the Federal Secretariat buildings and Three Arms Zone of Abuja, with vehicles and trekking human beings stopping and waiting for them to pass? So, that is Saleh’s own warped idea of living together? So, Southerners should be wiped out from the face of Nigeria in a carefully choreographed genocidal script, and they must not complain just because they will seek power, and must need Fulani support? So, the Southern Governors hate the Fulanis for telling them to stop open grazing and movement of cows by road across the South, thereby killing innocent people and destroying people’s means of livelihood? So, the life of a cow is more precious than that of a human being?
I cannot understand Saleh and his Miyetti Allah’s reasoning and illogicality. Or can you? So, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State is a “vagabond-in-power”, simply because he cried out that he was tired of being a helpless undertaker, coffin maker, an elegy orator and chief mourner presiding over daily slaughter of his own people?
So, because the Fulanis are all over Africa, and they had successfully overrun Guinea and Sudan (predominantly Muslim countries), they should also be allowed to overrun plural Nigeria (there are actually more Christians than Muslims even in the North) and wipe out the other 373 ethnic groups of Nigeria (according to Professor Onigu Otite)? I cannot comprehend this man. Or can you?
More questions please, Saleh: So, a personal profit-making venture such as cattle rearing should be forced willy-nilly on all other Nigerians as a fundamental objective and directive principle of state policy? So, the yam produce, cocoa palm kernel and tomatoes farmers of other ethnic groups, should equally be allowed to invade and seize Fulani lands and impose their trade on them? How would the Fulanis feel if the Igbos insist that because they are excellent traders, shops must be built for them by the Federal and State Governments across Nigeria, free of charge, to ply their lucrative trade? How will they feel if rearers of pigs (even when the Muslim Fulanis forbid pork meat) overrun their territories with hordes of pigs, all in the name of keeping Nigeria together?
Nigeria’s population projection by the United Nations for July, 2021, is 210,665,492. Of this number, only 17 million people are Fulanis, according to Saleh. There are three classes of Fulanis based on settlement patterns: the Nomadic/Pastoral or Mbororo; the Semi-Nomadic and the “Settled” or “Town Fulanis”. Thus, the Miyetti Allah nomadic or pastoral group constitutes only one-third of Fulanis in Nigeria. This means, speaking arithmetically, 8% people out of Nigeria’s population of 210.6 million people. So, going by Alhassan Saleh’s puerile vituperations, a tiny, but powerful, well-connected, power-dominating minority of 8% of Nigeria’s population must be allowed forever to tyranise the vast majority, impose their will; govern them by force; kill them; wipe them out of Nigeria, all in the name of peace, unity, indissolubility and indivisibility of Nigeria? So, the other 92% Nigerian majority should be held down by the jugular, just to make Nigeria work and prevent Fulanis from leaving Nigeria? Haba! I can never understand this man and the cattle rearers he spoke for. Or can you?
Nigeria is a Federation that operates the principles of federalism. Under this, the FG, States and LGAs have their respective rights and spheres of influence. There is the exclusive, concurrent and residual lists under the Constitution. This was why Justice Olajuwon of the FHC, Makurdi, held that since land in every State is controlled and managed by the Governor and LGs of such States, the FG cannot whimsically and capriciously grab lands in States; but must go through either the Governor or LG of such State.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and a human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome, has alleged that previous censuses conducted since the almagamation of the northern and southern regions of Nigeria, have always been manipulated to favour the North.
“All the censuses we have ever had in this country have always been manipulated. They have never reflected the true population of Nigeria. This is the only country in this world where the population in the dry region is higher than those in the wetlands,” he said.
Ozekhome was reacting to a recent statement made by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, wherein he called on the chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC) to shelve the conduct of the proposed 2018 national census.
According to Dogara, politicians will take advantage of the census exercise to cook up figures and manipulate the outcome of the 2019 general election.
But addressing newsmen in his office yesterday, Ozekhome, said it is wrong for states “laying the golden eggs to have fewer local government areas.”
“This is because of our attachments to national resources. Look at this. The old Kano was divided into Kano and Jigawa states. As I speak, Kano State has 44 local government areas, while Jigawa has 27. National resources sharing is based on this.
“Let us look at Bayelsa. Bayelsa lays the golden egg, but it has only 8 local government areas. If Bayelsa lays the eggs, where is the justice in this country, when those who do not lay the eggs get the lion’s share?
“When Dogara is afraid of census before 2019 elections, I sympathise with him. He knows that census is an explosive matter in this country.
“The former chairman of National Population Commission (NPC) said previous censuses were false, he was sacked because certain parts of this country did not like what he said.
“I agree with the speaker that the census should not be held. The 2019 elections are almost here. Let the census be held after the 2019 elections. If its held, it will be manipulated by politicians. The same politicians can even use the census exercise to disrupt the conduct of the 2019 general election.”
Ozekhome also reacted to another statement credited to some northern leaders, who recently called on President Muhammadu Buhari not to implement resolutions reached at the 2014 National Conference, held in Abuja.
He described those calling on President Buhari not to implement the resolutions of the Conference report as hypocrites. He said the northern leaders participated in the conference and were part of the decisions reached by over 450 delegates drawn from every part of the country.
“It was a battle royale at the 2014 National Conference. At the 2014 National Conference, we made over 600 recommendations. No one was forced to adopt any report. We disagreed during the conference and almost exchanged blows.
“It is alarming when you see participants of that conference coming out to say that they have rejected the outcome of the exercise. Every segment of Nigeria from the six geopolitical zones were represented at that conference.
“We cannot take our unity for granted. It needs to be nurtured. We need to go back to fiscal federalism. The over 600 recommendations of the National Conference which President Muhammadu Buhari has said he will put away in the archives, is unfortunate,” Ozekhome added. (The Sun)