By Onozure Dania
National President of Association of Christian Theologians, Prof Olakunle Macaulay, has faulted the composition of a Federal Government panel raised to probe the mass slaughter in Benue and Nasarawa states by gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
Macaulay, speaking in Lagos, said the panel had failed before take-off because it is only composed by government officials.
The panel, headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has nine state governors as its members.
Reacting to the composition, Macaulay said: “It is clear that the panel is not going to achieve anything, given its objective. It was raised to investigate the inability of government to contain the activities of herdsmen who have posed serious threat to security and well-being of Nigerians and Nigeria as a country.
“Now, the same government that cannot stop the senseless killings by the Fulani herdsmen is being asked to probe why it cannot stop them.
“When you want to set up a panel like that, it should comprise the people affected. Core Nigerians should be involved. Which means the religious leaders should be involved, community leaders, the business people, the common people, even the market women, all should be involved. This affects lives.
“To me, I think the composition is completely wrong. You see, we are talking about the inefficiency of the Federal Government and now you are adding governors. So who is actually challenged and who is defending? How can they sit down and talk to us about their problems and their solutions. Even to an ordinary man with common sense, it is not right.”
He also took exception to the decision of government to establish cattle colonies for the Fulani herdsmen across the country, saying cattle rearing was a private business and should not be the concern of government.
“Setting up a cattle colony will not work because itinerant cattle rearing is the way of life of these Fulani people. What government should do is to fish out the gunmen who always arrive to fight the cause of the Fulani herdsmen, get their sponsors, expose them and make them to face the full wrath of the law.
“Anything short of that is merely scratching the surface, pretentious and an attempt by government to hide the truth from us.”
Or are they trying to tell us that the lives of cows are more precious than the lives of human beings? And is it not curious that this administration is taking undue interest in the affairs of cattle, even more than human affairs?
“So if government helps private cattle rearers to set up colonies, what will happen to the pig rearers, goat rearers and poultry farmers? It means different interests with business in animal husbandry have the right to demand colonies from government.
“The real problem is with the gunmen, as the ordinary cattle rearers going about with their sticks always get support from some unknown gunmen whenever there is a clash between them and the local farmers.
“So, government must first of all make our security agencies rise up to the occasion and crush these invasions that have been decimating our population, before any other remedial measure,” he added.