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Standing on the graves of Agatu before crisis turns to tragedy—3

By Dele Sobowale

“By When all think alike, no one thinks very much.” Walter Lippmann, 1889-1974. (VANGUARD BOOK OG QUOTATIONS, VBQ,  p 245).

Last week a promise  was made to present some pictures from Agatu. Unfortunately, the article was too long to allow for the pictures. So permit me to start this week’s column by presenting some of the pictures. Over fifty of them were taken by the freelance photographer engaged who has not been paid.

AgatuUntil he gets paid fully, readers can at least see from these pictures some of what went on at Agatu. The Chinese told us that “A picture is worth more than a thousand words. But, the pictures from Agatu don’t even begin to tell the real story behind the mayhem. And that is the reason I find most of the comments by Christian Southerners, columnists, commentators, journalists, professors, clergy, legislators, who had not bothered to go to Agatu so annoying. For the most part it has been the blind leading the blind.

So biased is the mostly Southern/Christian press against the Fulani herdsmen and Muslims that in the articles that get published and reports provided, seldom do they publish any rebuttal to claims made against the Fulani herdsmen, or charges that Islamisation of Nigeria is the agenda, or the demand that land acquired for grazing should be restricted to the North; or that the Land Use Decree gave absolute right of land disposal to state governors and that another civil war might erupt if their solution to the problem is not accepted. Governor Fayose, usually short-sighted, reportedly called for poisoning the river water in Ekiti State to kill the cattle – forgetting the goats and human beings in Ekiti making use of the water. However, before addressing all these points, there is need to point out another instance of biased reporting.

PUNCH on May 21, 2016, in a report titled “N940m grazing reserves for herdsmen: Lawmakers  fault Buhari”, written by nine of their staff, eight Christians and one Muslim, quoted statements from South East, South South and South West lawmakers at Federal and State levels. Not a single Muslim or Northern lawmaker was asked to react to what was presented by a minority of the members of the House of Representatives. That, to PUNCH is balanced reporting. They quoted every Tom, Dick and Harry, but no Ismaila, Nasiru or Abubakar because in the fertile imagination of the editor Northerners and Muslims don’t exist. Or, if they do, their views don’t count. That is Nigerian journalism for you. But, global standard journalism recognizes that there are always, at least, two sides to every contentious issue.

A newspaper, not a propaganda sheet, must present all the sides as fully as possible. Whether the Southern media likes it or not, this matter is not going to be settled without listening attentively to the other sides.

As for those raising the possibility of civil war, even before all other options have been exploited, one can only hope they will go to the front line and fight if it breaks out – instead of sitting in the comfort of their homes and poor young men are sent to die for nothing. It is not only dangerous but idiotic for anybody to be talking about war when we have not exhausted peaceful means of resolving the disputes.

Let us now turn our attention to the more common recommendation made by those infected with herd mentality. That is the establishment of ranches. Their suggestions can be summarized as follows: ranches should be established by the owners of the cattle; the ranches should be based in the North; no cattle should graze anywhere in Nigeria, especially the South; the Federal Government should not acquire land in the South for grazing and no governor in the South should allocate land for ranches in his state. Hinted at, but not clearly stated is the possibility that the people in various Southern states will take up arms to defend their land if their ultimatum is not totally accepted.

In the next and final part of this series, the issue of ranching will be discussed briefly. So will the Land Use Act within the context of grazing and the N940 million budgeted for it this year.


“There is a pleasure in madness which none but mad men know.”

Saul Bellow, (VBQ p 147).

There is also a pleasure in being silly which only silly men know. Every right thinking person in Nigeria knows that the PDP as a political brand is dead and only waiting to be buried. But, a lot of grown-ups including professors, SANs, former Ambassadors, Ministers, Senior Special Advisers to Presidents and Governors are still wasting their time, money and goodwill on the party instead of forming a new one. Irrespective of the gang which ends up with the carcass of the PDP, it will not succeed in 2019. The party is over. Please somebody remind these fools that “All political parties die, at last, of swallowing their own lies” (Dr Arbuthnot, 1667-1735, VBQ, p 191). PDP is dead.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.