By Yinka Odumakin
FORMER Serbian Defense Minister Bratislav Gasic’s career came to an abrupt end in December 2015 as he was fired over a sexist comment to a female journalist.
Bratislav Gasic told journalists after his sack that harassment of women is widespread in Serbia and said he will make it his mission to fight the problem in the future.
Gasic sparked outrage after a journalist from B92 Television knelt down in front of him to avoid being in the way of cameras as he spoke to a group of reporters during a visit to a factory. He commented: “I like these female journalists who kneel down so easily.”
Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic announced his sack within 24 hours said he was firing Gasic, who had been one of the closest associates to show in clear terms that his government does not approve of sexist comments.
Serbia in that moment showed it is a process-led society as the closeness of a Minister does not place him above the rules of engagement.
But not so in Nigeria that lacks a proper structure but whose President says its priority should be “process”. As I write this, it has been 95 hours since its “Defence” Minister,Brig-General Monsur Dan-Alli emerged from the meeting of the Security Council and announced to the whole world that the killings of 73 people in Benue in one day should be blamed on a government that constitutionally made valid laws against open- grazing of cows instead of the marauding Fulani herdsmen who claimed responsibility for the dastardly murder.
Hear him: “You see, whenever a crisis happens at any time, there are remote and immediate causes. Look at this issue (of killings in Benue and Taraba), what is the remote cause of this farmers’ crisis?
“Since the nation’s Independence, we know there used to be routes whereby the cattle rearers took because they are all over the nation. You go to Bayelsa, Ogun, you will see them. If those routes are blocked, what do you expect will happen?
“These people are Nigerians. It is just like going to block the shoreline, does that make sense to you? These are the remote causes of the crisis. But the immediate cause is the grazing law. These people are Nigerians and we must learn to live together with each other.
“Communities and other people must learn how to accept foreigners within their enclave, finish!” he said.
But when asked if the claims of the immediate and remote causes of the conflicts that he listed were justifiable reasons for the mindless killings of hapless Nigerians by the herders, Dan-Alli described the situation as a matter of internal security, claiming further that some of the killings were perpetrated by militants.
Reminded that there were claims by the presidency that the killings were being carried out by foreign terrorists, Dan-Ali swiftly added: “Of course, that is why I said they are militias. Militias are part of illegal immigrants. These are the people.”
That Dan Ali is in office days after these insensitive, offensive and repulsive remarks indicates that he only read the communique of the National (Sectional )Security Council as its current composition does not reflect the diversity of the country .It is possible to speak in the tongue of a section of the country and no member will be lost. This is in clear subversion of Section 4 (1) a of the Act setting up the Federal Character Commission which defines one the functions of the body :
“To work out an equitable formula, subject to the approval of the President, for the distribution of all cadres of posts in the civil and the public services of the Federation and of the States, the Armed Forces, the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies, bodies corporately owned by the Federal or a State Government and Extra-Ministerial Departments and parastatals of the Federation and States.”
With the benefit of hindsight, it would now appear that a coded message was being sent when President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Mohammed Bello Tukur, the Legal Adviser of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, as the Secretary of the Federal Character Commission.
This seeming official sanction of murder by the State would now suggest the need for proper interpretations of comments made by prominent players in this administration in the recent past.
It started in 2013 when former governor of Yobe State, Senator Buka Ibrahim, warned the Federal Government to expect insurgency worse than that of the Boko Haram in the coming months, if it failed to redress the paltry funds appropriated to the North-East in the 2013 budget.
The Senator spoke in the wake of the 2013 budget presentation by then President Goodluck Jonathan at the National Assembly .
He said Federal Government’s allocation to the region was alarming, arguing that it was another form of injustice.
He said: “Boko Haram is a product of poverty. It is a product of unhappiness. We are unhappy with Nigeria. Unless something is done to address it, Nigeria should expect bigger Boko Haram insurgency, Insha Allah.
“Other geo-political zones got N79 billion or N80 billion. But the North-East has only N50 billion; a difference of N30 billion.”
Senator Ali Ndume in 2016 also raised the alarm that if something urgent was not done, a war worse than the Boko Haram insurgency looms in Borno State and the North East generally.
Ndume raised the alarm at a cocktail organised to mark the official inauguration of ‘Get Involved Initiative’, a pet project of the Wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari.
Ndume said Nigeria might have a larger crisis on its hands if all stakeholders failed to do something urgent on the malnutrition being experienced among children in the affected area.
He said about 500,000 children would die of malnutrition if something urgent was not done.
He said, “The situation in Borno State particularly in the North East and in the country as liberated generally is very very serious.
“If we do not do something concrete now about these children that are growing up malnourished, sick with hunger, poverty and malnutrition in Borno State, then we are going to have another war that is worse than the Boko Haram war.
Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima in the same 2016 alerted that the defeat of Boko Haram may not be the end of such experience in the country as there are numerous indications that the nation may be faced with worse scenarios in not too distant future.
Speaking during the visit of a team from the United Nations led by its resident coordinator in Nigeria, Ms. Fatma Samoura,Shettima said Boko Haram may be “an appetizer for worse things to come unless we put our thinking caps on.”
The governor, who lamented that the Boko Haram insurgency was a child of extreme poverty that has continued to ravage the sub-Saharan Africa especially the zone which the North-East happened to fall within, said there are signals everywhere to show that the world needs to pay more attention to the region in order to avert worse crisis even after the ongoing Boko Haram crisis was over.
It would appear that the “something worse” than Boko Haram is here as killings by Fulani herdsmen are getting backhand support from officialdom as evident by Dan-Alli’ s comments on Benue and Taraba killings as against the killings by Boko Haram which attracted condemnations from government at some point.
Reading carefully through Alli’s comments,one recalls earlier comments by the Inspector General of Police’s to the effect that the killer herdsmen are Nigerians and the President’s admonition to Benue leaders to accommodate the killers is food for thought.
This can’t be the best of times for this administration as it inflicts mortal wounds on itself by this utter insensitivity and failure of leadership. A little window is opened to it to begin to find its way out of this bottomless pit of clannishness it has dug for itself : Alli must go!. A first step in public relations to be accompanied with stopping the killings and bringing perpetrators to justice.
Re: Adunni Oluwole warned against this independence
KUDOS to you. Adunni Oluwole was right. Otherwise what kind of independence allows for the President of a country go for medical sojourn to erstwhile colonial master. Since America got its independence from Britain how many American Presidents have gone to Britain for medical help?
– David Erhabor