By Yinka Odumakin
WHEN Fulani militias struck in Benue in January killing 73 people in one fell swoop, the Governor of Plateau State, Mr. Simon Lalong was at the Villa to See Mr. president. He emerged from the meeting doing skelewu on the grave of the victims. He said he had also resisted pressure to enact the law in Plateau and rather chose to embrace the idea of cattle ranching. He said the anti-grazing law was divisive as it was targeted at a particular ethnic group.
Hear him:“I told the governor of Benue when he was doing the law, I said look, why don’t you tread softly, just be careful, take other steps before you start implementation.
“But you see states are different, his own concept and that of our own in Plateau is different. I said I will not do the law before implementation. I have not developed the ranching areas so I cannot go and say I put a law. To stop who? If I stop the people what is the alternative?”
He went on and on pacifying the killers and heaping blames on the victims. He didn’t have a single tear for the dead. He was just all out to impress patrons of Miyetti Allah.
It didn’t take too long for Lalong to realise early morning last Sunday that the evil that stalks the land today cannot be appeased with any slavish disposition. Plateau State was thrown into mourning with the killing of 86 persons (by Police admission ) and over 200 by eyewitnesses (more believable) in the attacks on about 11 communities in the Gashish District by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
Lalong treated softly, did not do anti-grazing and his state is among the 10 for the pilot Federal Cattle Territories(FCT) for which the Federal government has decided to fleece the public of N179b in doing ranches for private enterprise.
Twenty four hours after the incident and as I write this, the gods of Aso Rock he was marching on the Benue blood to be a good boy to had yet to find a word to condole Plateau State and the bereaved.Even the State Commissioner of Police only sent an assistant and a DPO to go to the venue to assess the situation. I read the state Police PRO saying “we have released the bodies to the families for burial.”
“You are killed your family buries you if your body is found ” seems to be the unwritten official code in the Nigerian killing fields of today. There can only be consequences for killing if it is against the Nigerian super race as five men are about to be hung in Adamawa over the killing of a Fulani herdsman( a member of “everyone”) but no justice for thousands of “nobodies” killed by herdsmen in the last three years. Now we know the true meaning of ” I belong to everyone ,I belong to nobody.”
Governor Lalong must have his head buried in shame now as blood flows on the streets of Plateau as the evil he was pacifying continues to stroll across the country leaving sorrow, tears and blood. We wait for what he would now say to the families of the bereaved and the bones of the butchered in this sad and gory occurrence. I cringed seeing images of the innocent people killed.
It is also a time to call out the Minister of Defense(?), Mansur Dan-Ali, who recently demanded an end to the anti-open grazing law, which is operational in some states.
Speaking in Abuja two weeks ago after a meeting of President Muhammadu Buhari with the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonisakin and some defence chiefs, Ali said the suspension of the law would reduce the tension in states where herders clash with farmers.
According to a statement released by Col. Tukur Gusau, his spokesman, Ali said after the meeting that the suspension of the law would further help in negotiating a safe route for herdsmen and their livestock.
“There is a need for the Nigeria police and Department of State Services to prosecute all the suspects arrested in the affected states while negotiating safe routes for the herders.”
He had said earlier that the blockade of cattle routes was responsible for the killings being carried out by the Fulani militia.
What will one now ascribe the killings in Plateau to where there is no anti-grazing ?
While we mourn the killings in Plateau which have once again shown the further diminishing of humanity as evil reigns supreme in our land,it is auspicious to call on all men and women of goodwill in the land to rise in Defence of life and put an end to this bloodletting that is festering in our country.
Every evil has an expiry date and so should this one. Another four years of what is going on may bring this entity to a closure!
…the Igbo dilemma and how to solve it (2)
By Obasi Igwe
ON regionalism, the “irreducible minimum”, we ask, how many “Igbo leaders” understand or care about anything outside “Southeast”, the poisoned chalice endorsing the ethnic cleansing in southern Igboland, targeted at erasing the almost 600-year modern Igbo maritime history, pretend to some Igbo land-locking or non-coastal access, and divert Igbo attention to a thousand year agony of anticipation in a wild goose chase called Onitsha port, to be dredged across lands made hostile to, or at least not interested in Igbo progress. Gowon must be smiling about his good plans for the Igbo.
“Southeast” is a programmed Sudan-type catastrophe intended to implode the central Igbo that would have no means of escape, except at war within itself. The quit order of 2017 was its dress rehearsal. Ekwueme and allies became tools to sell it to the Igbo and the world. To finally vanquish Igbo, the caliphate had long concluded plans to impose this “Biafra” on them, only contemplating the best approach, the quislings to use, or whether to instead go the whole hog of “relocating” or dispersing the 50 to 60 million Igbo and, maybe also other Easterners into distant areas of permanent enslavement and assimilation.
Please, see the front and page 41 of May 12th “Saturday Sun”, to again confirm that there is nothing that the caliphate does not contemplate against others, the Igbo above all. The Buhari government did not condemn that call, and Igbo politicians didn’t see the kite flown with fanfare. The logic is that if a large-scale Abandoned Property could be arranged to disorganize, relocate and cleanse some millions, why couldn’t they do so to a higher number and, yet again go scot free. Almost 20 countries in North Africa and Middle East are a product of sectarian ethnic cleansing, which almost succeeded in southern Africa too.
So, our well-meaning professors might rethink the idea that the caliphate abhors restructuring, when they’ve been restructuring Nigeria since 1967, including the “Southeast”, LGA and revenue allocation things designed to destructure the Igbo and East, and weaken their capacity in all respects. Unlike our casual imaginations, oil is only a stage in their preoccupations; primary is coastal access, desert encroachment, and lebensraum for the Fulani; such strategic indices that “Igbo leaders” pay scanty attention to, but at the root of the inspired herdsmen atrocities.
Arising from the foregoing, the Igbo dilemma assumes four critical aspects: should we remain in Nigeria or not; what are the implications of any choice; under whose leadership; then the domestic and international dimensions.
The civilized world knows that Igbo aspiration is freedom or independent statehood. But to some elite, the Hobson’s choice is that since for whatever reasons, superpower military support is absent, Igbo can join with others to seek relative self-determination in a properly restructured Nigeria. This brings in the issue of Igbo unity and leadership. Nigeria invests so much to divide and incapacitate the Igbo, both Mbamiri, Ogboo, Anioma, Waawa, Ijekebee, Owerri, etc. Post-1970 corruption killed Igbo patriotism. The intelligentsia should unite. A start can be made by bringing together the countless think-tanks and civil society organizations dotting the Igbo landscape.
Lastly, the domestic and international dimensions. The Igbo need decipher the innermost intentions of other Nigerians, especially immediate neighbours. We need to cooperate with others, certain that while we suffer under the same system, perspectives differ. If any Easterner is apprehensive that Igbo will revenge over anything and, therefore, preferring slavery under the caliphate than paradise with the Igbo, we need to allay such concerns, albeit legitimate. God brought Eastern brothers together for a worthier purpose than vengeance.
Is any Yoruba feeling better fulfilled as a preferred slave in an unequal condominium with the caliphate,provided the Igbo are further below, we need remind him of a deeper Yoruba civilization before 1804, whence we still await any form of civilization nearing Omo Oduduwa’s. They will remind Igbo of our own failings, clearing the ground for an embrace, not just handshake. With history in mind, we shall know from the Middle Belt what they really intend for the Igbo in a One Nigeria: is it merely that Igbo should not abandon them to final caliphate conquest, or is there anything more ennobling they wish for the Igbo, such as uniting to end the feudal system subverting everybody. The Igbo are rightly afraid, so that not when the acid test comes, there is a reversal to old habits. There has to be reciprocity, at least consensus.
Then, this: post-1966 Igbo leaders seemed to have abandoned creative international politics, which was also why Biafra failed. Modern wars are fought in coalitions. Even the US, with all her might, does not fight alone. The early British – missionaries – loved and admired the Igbo more than practically any other nation in Africa. But the bad blood between Jaja and Hewett betrayed the other side of Igbo as too self-confident, stubborn and independent-minded. With their awesome power, imperialists don`t like such people. Azikiwe, in tenacious pursuit of African independence directly sealed that perception of the Igbo as unyielding. Strategy without tactics do not a great objective attain.
Imagine John Kerry in Nigeria going directly to the Sultan, the very apotheosis of fascist reaction; a British ambassador travelling all the way to Nembe to “see” their king. Great signals? With all the atrocities of the Buhari fundamentalist regime, only Donald Trump, never a British official, has said anything concrete in condemnation.
The British probably continue to see the caliphate and some others as better-suited to their purposes. The Igbo need to assure the West that we are both unwilling and incapable of standing in their way, so that they discontinue tolerating our elimination. We need to effectively engage Britain and America, persuading them that as they originally saw us, we share in almost all ideals of good society they believe in: bourgeois democracy, fundamental freedoms, gender equality, free enterprise, religious tolerance, secular state, trade, etc., and could be better allies than many others in such pursuits. Caliphates everywhere are a group of frightened families manipulated by foreign powers for sundry purposes, essentially against their own and other peoples.
To change that cruel system, we need to engage the principals that use them, more than themselves, while not discounting the possibility of progressive factions of the Fulani emerging that shall genuinely believe in secular democracy and, therefore, a just society or peaceful separation. This is a major task for the Igbo today, whether inside or outside the cauldron we find ourselves. Action, and nothing else, is the name of the game.
.Prof Igwe teaches Political science at UNN