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A Governor’s panacea to menace of herdsmen

By News Express on 10/02/2018

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John Keane, Professor of Politics at the University of Westminster and the WZB (Berlin), is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He is the author of a best-selling politics book entitled The Life and Death of Democracy.

As a student of political philosophy, Keane had won my undying admiration for writing frankly on and about the vicissitudes and concupiscence of politics, as the world knows the trade now. Since buying this beautiful piece of intellectual work a couple of years ago, I have come to the inevitable conclusion that the mountains of self-inflicted afflictions in the Nigerian polity can be ameliorated, if only framers of political policies can pick up a copy (or similar ones) and digest the philosophically-deep contents.

In the wise words of TS Eliot, “What we call the beginning is often the end; and to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”

Yours faithfully was, therefore, attracted to begin this reflection on the fundamental conundrum that the erudite Prof Keane posed in the book which seeks to unravel the ‘whyness’ of democracy. He posited that democracy as we know it ruined in fits, and starts by contempt for parties, politicians and parliaments, anti-American sentiments, nationalism, fake democrats; perhaps also by fear and violence, unimpeachable cross-border institutions, market failures deepening social inequality; fatalism and disgust for the hypocrisy of whatever remained of democratic ideals and institutions.”

He then posed the following sub-questions: “If our muse was right to foresee in these trends the sabotage of monitory democracy, what, if anything would be lost? Who would care? Why should anybody care? In plain words: would it really matter if democracy died a fitful death?

These syllogistic arguments can be referred to while extrapolating on our existential man-made problems that politicians have imposed on the larger society, by their crass incompetence and deliberate unwillingness to play the game of politics by the rules.

Of all the monumental crises of political underdevelopment, the one that now poses grave threat to Nigeria’s continuous existence as a nation are the deliberately unabated bouts of violent attacks of farming communities by armed Fulani herdsmen. A cacophony of discordant tunes have emanated from different layers of the political class on why these attacks have perjured. The tolls in human costs are rising by the day, and millions of Nigerians are questioning the essence of the democracy that is orchestrated not to be able to provide the primary purpose of constitutional government: which is the protection of lives and property of Nigerians effectively.

In the last three years especially, Nigeria has witnessed an unfortunate proliferation of blood-cuddling violence unleashed by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen who, from available body of empirical date, may have the active support of some politically connected persons in the current Federal Government.

Take, for instance, the statement by Defence Minister, Brig-Gen (retd) Mansur Dan-Ali. He blamed Benue and Taraba states for passing the anti-open grazing laws, as the immediate cause of the killings of farmers masterminded by armed Fulani herdsmen. Take also the irresponsible statement credited to the Inspector General of Police, supporting the insensitive position of the Defence minister in blaming the victims of the attacks for the bloody violence unleashed on them. Again, take a look at the careless statement that emanated from both the Defence Headquarters and the Department of State Services (DSS) on this same vexed matter of well-coordinated violence and pogrom by armed Fulani herdsmen, targeting unarmed innocent farmers.

These cocktails of irrational sentiments expressed by the occupants of otherwise very strategic national security agencies depict an administration that lacks the political will to tackle the menace the mass-killers, who are suspected to be armed Fulani herdsmen, have become. These matters are danger signals that are capable of killing Nigeria’s democracy.

A pro-democracy group which this writer heads – Human Right Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) – had blamed the imbalance in the composition of the National Defence Council for the pro-killer herdsmen comments made by Defence Minister, Dan-Ali. HURIWA was reacting to the minister’s comments about the immediate and remote causes of attacks on farming communities by suspected armed herdsmen.

Dan-Ali was quoted as saying: “You see, whenever a crisis happens at any time, there are remote and immediate causes. 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.”

HURIWA’s disappointment with the minister’s position, which he said was akin to providing subtle justification for the criminal attacks by suspected armed herdsmen on farming communities, still rankle the consciences of good spirited Nigerians. The association noted that Dan-Ali’s simplistic assessment, which reduced the problem to the passage of anti-open grazing laws in different states of the federation and blockage of grazing routes were responsible for the killings by herdsmen was, to say the least, “unpatriotic and unbecoming of a statesman.”

HURIWA equally noted that it appeared that those at the helm of affairs were pampering the suspected armed herdsmen, because of some ethno-religious affiliations with heads of internal security agencies under President Muhammadu Buhari.

The group urged President Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, respect the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution with regards to the federal character principle, by immediately reconstituting the national security team to reflect Nigeria’s diversity. Specifically, the group quoted Section 42 (1) (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) to buttress its point.

HURIWA insisted that the lopsided domination of the security forces by Hausa/Fulani ethnicity is a grave breach of the extant provision as cited above, even as the selective appointments of persons from one section of Nigeria amounted to discrimination, which is absolutely illegal and unconstitutional.

“Nigerians expect the holder of the high office of Defence minister to be patriotic enough to denounce blood-cuddling terror attacks orchestrated by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen, but what has come out from the meeting of President Buhari’s Security Council, as relayed by the Defence minister, shows that the current administration has no intention to arrest, prosecute and, where possible, punish the perpetrators of the killings in Benue, Southern Kaduna, Plateau, Taraba, Adamawa and Enugu states.”

The group urged the President Buhari-led administration to rise up to its responsibility of protecting the lives and property of Nigerians irrespective of ethno-religious bias or political affiliation.

But the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Rev Matthew Kukah, puts it much more succinctly when he described politics in Nigeria as a criminalised enterprise. He stated this at the launch of a book entitled The Shadow List, written by Dr Todd Moss and organised by the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, Abuja.

His words: “I have said it severally; let Nigerians keep saying they want a God-fearing leader. Nigeria does not need a God-fearing leader, because God-fearing has become an excuse to appeal to Nigerians and win elections.”

He hit the nail on the head when he noted: “Governance in Nigeria is a criminalised enterprise; and a criminalised state cannot progress; so we must come to terms as to why it is that this country is in such low portion.

“Fixing this country requires much more than that; national cohesion, holding our country together, is the most fundamental project if we are to fix this nation.”

However, the pertinent question to ask, so as to save Nigeria’s democracy from imminent death is: Why has the President failed to exercise his constitutional powers to save Nigerians from the barrage of violent attacks by armed Fulani Herdsmen.

Dr Tunji Abayomi wrote a seminal book in which he reeled out the constitutional powers of the President, even as he ironically entitled his book: Constitutional Powers and Duties of the President.

“The President shall be the Head of State, the Chief Executive of the Federation and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation. Section 130(2) is copied verbatim from the First Presidential Constitution Decree of 1979.”

He wrote further: “Section 5 of the 1999 Constitution Decree invests in the president, the executive powers of the federation, but does not define what the president is. What the section defines is what the president can do. He shall execute and maintain the Constitution and laws. But Section 130 of the Constitution Decree defines what it means to be president. He is the chief; that is, one who is principal leader, and the eminent power of paramount importance in the entire nation.

“The president is also executive; that is, he possesses the authority to carry the affairs of the state into effect by securing due observance to the laws as enacted by the legislature, and interpreted by the courts.”

So, why has the president failed to safeguard the lives and property of Nigerians effectively? This reminds one of a story which started with this poser: Ever wondered the possibility of someone being inside the ocean and yet soap enters your eyes, frustratingly?

That seems to be the situation that Nigeria has found herself with the ever-widening threats of violence by armed Fulani herdsmen all across diverse farming communities in Nigeria over the last couple of years. But there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel with the rare solution proffered by Governor of Kano State which I believe is a masterstroke.

Kano State Governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje reportedly called on all Fulani herdsmen resident in other parts of the country, especially Benue and Taraba states, to relocate to Kano State, since the state has vast grazing land to accommodate them and their cattle.

Governor Ganduje – who stated this while inspecting the vaccination of over one million cattle and other small animals’ free-of-charge at Kadawa Artificial Insemination Centre in Garum Malam Local Government Area of the state, as part of activities to mark the 2017/2018 livestock vaccination programme – condemned the recent killings emanating from clashes between farmers and herdsmen describing it as unacceptable.

Speaking further during the occasion tagged “Towards Conservation of Livestock Resource and Animal Protein for Citizens of Kano,” Ganduje said the exercise was made to keep the animals healthy and improve the economy of the state.

According to him, the over one million cattle and small animals vaccinated for free will be free of animal diseases, adding that his administration is committed to the welfare and economic well-being of the Fulani herdsmen. He further stated that as part of the government’s commitment to encourage herdsmen in the state, Kano State Government has continued to provide facilities that will contain the herdsmen and their cattle, so as to prevent them from travelling to other states in search of grazing lands.

Ganduje also stated that Fulani herdsmen of Kano origin do not move out of Kano to other states, “because we have enough grazing land, ranches and traditional stock route. So, they don’t have any reason to move out of the state. We take care of them and we accord them the respect and dignity they deserve.”

The Kano governor affirmed: “I am inviting herdsmen from all parts of Nigeria to relocate to Kano, because we have enough facilities to accommodate them. We have grazing lands in Rogo, Gaya, Kura, Tudun Wada, Ungogo and other reserved places where facilities are in place to accommodate the herdsmen and their cattle.”

The governor also revealed that already, his administration is in collaboration with the Federal Government and foreign agencies to convert the Falgore Game Reserve into a modern grazing land.

According to him, “Falgore Game Reserve can take care of millions of herdsmen and their cattle in Nigeria. The place has been designed to contain schools, human and animal clinics, markets, recreational centres and other social amenities that can give the herdsmen enough comfort to take care of their animals and do their business without hindrance.

These killings must stop. We cannot afford to continue to witness these senseless killings in the name of Fulani herdsmen and farmers clash over lack of grazing land while we have a place like the Falgore Game Reserve under-utilised.”

He added: “There is no longer fear of cattle rustling in Kano. Cattle rustling is now history, because we fought the menace headlong. In Falgore right now, we have enough security there. Those rustlers have relocated elsewhere, while some of them who repented from their evil ways were given amnesty and rehabilitated.”

Ganduje also said that his administration has embarked on the registration of herdsmen and the numbers of their cattle, to enable government take care of them through free vaccination and other incentives that will add value to their business.

“A Cattle Intervention Centre has been established to address the challenges associated with rumination of herdsmen within Kano. Just recently, we sponsored the training of over 61 Fulani who were sent to Turkey to learn artificial insemination.

“They are back to Kano and I must tell you that they are doing well in various places to have been assigned to do their job,” he affirmed.

Rather than stoking embers of inter-ethnic recriminations and mutual suspicions by the shadow-chasing by Minister of Agriculture Audu Ogbeh, in planning to set up what he calls cattle colonies, Ganduje’s panacea is a masterstroke that should be adopted. Let the Federal Government support Kano State in this heroic effort to stop the mass killings attributed to armed Fulani herdsmen.

•RIGHTSVIEW appears on Wednesdays and Saturdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, a popular activist, is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA). He can be reached via 08033327672 (sms only) or via doziebiko@yahoo.com 

Source News Express

Posted 10/02/2018 12:50:35 PM

 

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