IF there were citizens still living in denial that Nigeria has sunk below our expectation, Presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, removed all doubts last week when he declared that violent herders association, Miyetti Allah, is Northern Nigeria’s version of respected Southern groups, Afenifere and Ohanaeze. The President’s aide, who was speaking on Channels TV, said: “It is a mistake to say the Nigerian government is talking to bandits.
“The Miyetti Allah group is like Ohanaeze and Afenifere. It is a socio-cultural group. There are criminals within the Yoruba race and you cannot say because of that Afenifere is a group of criminals. The Nigerian government is speaking with the leadership of the Fulani herders association, Miyetti Allah.”
After a denunciation of the gratuitous insult by Afenifere and Ohanaeze, the Presidency came out with another statement which ought to have ameliorated the initial one if it was not deliberate. This time around Garba Shehu asked the two Southern groups to respect Miyetti Allah, perhaps in the order of the Presidency’s glorification of an organisation, a sensitive government that cares about building an inclusive country should have outlawed and put its leading lights on trial.
I must profusely thank Garba Shehu for these two interventions which have opened our eyes to the true agenda behind this Miyetti Allah menace. It was what I explained in a friend’s sprawling office a few days ago. I told a group of some distinguished Nigerians that if we relocated the gate man to be the chairman of the company, there would have to be new rules of engagement to bring the rest of the office to his level. It has to be anti-culture. That is what Nigeria is being made to wade through and which we must reject.
In not likening Miyetti Allah to Arewa Consultative Forum, Garba Shehu is telling us that Miyetti Allah is the new consultative forum for Arewa and the rest of us must climb down to be at their level. We have been forced into this mode in the last four years as Miyetti Allah became larger-than-life.
When their members killed 71 people in Benue on January 1, 2018, and Governor Ortom was summoned to the Presidential Villa; it was not to assure him that the killers would be found and prosecuted but to be tutored on how to live peaceably with his killer-neighbours. The herders have killed hundreds of Nigerians in the last four years but I am not aware of any of them that the government has brought before the law. Instead, top officials of the administration in charge of security have been telling us they are killing and maiming because cattle routes have been blocked. A former IGP in a moment of excitement even asked: “are the killers not Nigerians?”
When respected former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, visited Benue after the killings and made a demand for the arrest and prosecution of the Miyetti Allah for the dastardly act which should be the duty of any responsible government, the group told General Gowon that some screws must have fallen off his brain. We expected Garba Shehu to tell the foul-mouthed group to respect the former leader. The Presidency was mute in apparent approval of their sheer impudence.
The Global Terrorism Index in 2015 rated the herdsmen as the fourth deadliest terror group in the world after Isis, Boko Haram and al-Shabab. The Federal Government never responded to that. It is on the contrary now meeting with the same group at the highest level of government under the guise of mobilising bandits to fight banditry. We have not forgotten how the government changed the narrative of herdsmen terror on farmers to herders-farmers clashes as if cutlass-wielding farmers and illegal AK 47-carrying herders are of equal strength. Why is the hypocritical Federal Government not speaking with farmers on the same subject now?
Prof. Banji Akintoye taught us a powerful lesson last Thursday in Ikenne after Awo’s 32nd remembrance service, having listened to an ear-tingling sermon by Archbishop M.O. Fape. We were headed for Awo’s residence after the church service to be guests of Dr Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosumu when we ran into a blockade on the normal route to the house. We quickly turned back to look for another way. When we got to the house, the professor of history did not miss the teachable moment when he said: “We met roadblock there and we turned back to look for another route. That is what is missing in our actions in Nigeria. Whenever we hit a roadblock, we do not look for another route. We will stand there making an analysis of the blockade until we get paralyzed.”
Analysis of the blockade
Miyetti Allah has become a blockade mounted by those who want to keep us in this mess and we are falling for it. The violent cow herders are even leading the discussion about 2023 and we are responding to it. If the current government insists on the Miyetti Allah conversation, the rest of the country must find its equivalents to match the discourse.
We should allow the enlightened North to accept or decline the artful design of this government to make Miyetti Allah the new consultative forum of Arewa.
We should continue the conversations we have had with the Ahmadu Bellos, Tafawa Balewas, Maitama Sules, Adanu Ciromas, et al; with the Ango Abdullahis and the rest, but not with the Miyetti Allah.
The North of Miyetti Allah is the festival of blood going on in Zamfara, Kaduna and on the streets of many Northern cities which have made the train and air service the only links between them and Abuja today. The ingredients for Somalia are all ready except we look for another route!
Calling out Appeal Court Chief Judge on Osun Judgement
The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachulwa, is on record to have told election petitions judges on March 20, 2019, to shun technicalities in deciding cases. Said she: “I, therefore, urge you to desist from granting frivolous adjournments and also discourage the practice of employing undue technicalities or any act capable of causing a delay in the dispensation of petitions before you.
“As I have said before, each and every one of you will be closely monitored by my office and I will not hesitate to descend on any judge found wanting in the discharge of his or her duties”.
Nigerians are eager to know if your Lordship monitored the judgement by four out of five judges of the appeal court panel that ruled on the Osun governorship election case last Thursday. They curiously overturned the majority judgement at the lower tribunal on the ground that a judge who read the judgement from whom no testimony was taken, who is alive and without an affidavit from the petitioners did not sit for one day?
We want to know if that did not violate your directive on the use of technicalities.