EVENTS relating to the activities of herdsmen across the length and breadth of the country have stretched my patriotic fibre to its limits and kike Shakespeare’s Hamlet, I wonder if I am still a Nigerian and still live in the Federal Republic of Nigeriaor a republic of Herdsmen.
The murderous activities of the herdsmen in Kaduna, Benue, Cross River, Enugu, Plateau and my dear Delta State have proved that the present administration cannot secure the lives and property of Nigerians.
Whether the indifference and docile attitude of the government springs from the reality that the nation’s helmsman is a Fulani and that he is also owner of cattle are subjects to conjecture. But the plea here is that the government should not make some of us especially those of us in the south think that there are two sets of Nigerians – the citizens and the subjects. The image of the Federal Republic of Herdsmen dulls the senses.
Today, the herdsmen according to the Global Terrorism Database rank fourth among terrorists groups and that Boko Haram is a shade ahead of the herdsmen in the areas of bloodletting and senseless killing of innocent men and women. It is rather unfortunate that these orgies of killing by the herdsmen have not attracted any strong response from the Federal government. These issues, the executive and the legislative arms of government treat with levity. The Buhari administration should act fast before herdsmen compete for infamy and brutality with ISIS in world terrorism.
Sometimes, I wonder if something is wrong with my reasoning ability. To my mind, dealing with the issue of herdsmen and their need for grazing land is quite simply. But I don’t understand why it has become such a difficult problem for government to tackle. I know that animal husbandry is an occupation and those who have cows should establish ranches and that some states can even carve out areas as grazing reserves. All these are not done and the supporters of herdsmen tell us there is freedom of movement.
The constitutional provision of freedom of movement should not be equated with the destruction of farm products, rape of women and the unprovoked killing of people. Even more outlandish was the stance of a certain northern governor that some herdsmen were paid to stop their murderous activities. If we are not living in the Herdsmen’s republic, such a governor should be brought to justice for encouraging herdsmen to kill innocent Nigerians and have them paid for doing so.
Another unfortunate stance of a prominent northern figure, this time, a traditional ruler, was that these herdsmen are not Nigerians. This is a very beautiful line of argument. If these murderous people are not Nigerians, what are the security and allied forces doing to bring them to justice? There are too many lies, half truth and excuses as far as the murderous activities of these herdsmen are concerned and these are the issues giving the agitators for Biafra and other separatists groups justification for their positions.
As the bloodletting continues coupled with the indifferent stance of the federal government and the insane idea of importing grasses from Brazil to feed the cattle of these herdsmen, there are different reactions from state governors who are supposed to be the Chief security officers of their states. While the governor of Enugu state could take solace in weeping, the Ekiti state governor had taken a legal and legislative position by enacting a law against unauthorised grazing.
The Ekiti governor should be commended but the issue is really beyond him. It needs a federal might to solve it once and for all. The security of the nation is at stake and something should be done to stop this insanity. For a leader who promised to do justice to all persons, the stance of President Muhammadu Buhari is an unfortunate disappointment.
I was his staunch supporter before and after the presidential elections. I used my pen to push his policies. But today I am sorely disappointed in his handling of the herdsmen menace. I appreciate his fight against corruption and the defeat of Boko Haram. If the President and Commander- In- Chief of the nation can use half of that energy, the herdsmen menace would have been brought under control.
It is common knowledge that the herdsmen are well armed and some of them bear AK47, yet, other Nigerians with double barrel guns are arrested for not having license. It therefore goes without saying that the herdsmen are a special breed of people and that they are above the law.
If a pupil is playing with bazooka and mowing down other children in the school compound and the headmaster applauds, then we could blame the headmaster for the crime. Committed and transparent leadership is simply on holiday as far as the herdsmen’s issue is concerned.
Mr. Julius Oweh, a journalist, wrote from Asaba, Delta State.