We live in a country where herdsmen are now traffic officials on public roads. There is a country where herdsmen are now rulers and heads of any community they settle or trespass to graze. We live in a nation where cows are now regarded as the senior citizens, and the country is Nigeria.
Children have become orphans overnight. Wives have turned to widows; young widowers are groping for their wives but they are nowhere to be found, they’ve been butchered by herdsmen. Nursing mothers turn to barren women, parents bury their kids on daily basis, and all hopes are battered, shattered and scattered because of herdsmen attacks.
It is not surprising seeing herdsmen parading themselves as alpha and omega on public roads. It is not also novel that motorists and pedestrians are now waiting for cows to pass before they can access public roads. From National Assembly premises to Federal Secretariats in Abuja, cows are domineering.
To crystallise and further strengthen the barbaric and hideous activities of Herdsmen in the country, the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development came out with a pernicious and obnoxious Scheme called “RUGA Settlement” only to benefit cows and herdsmen.
Deducing from the above, “democracy in Nigeria is now and or can be defined as government of the cows, by the herdsmen and for their cows alone”. Human lives have lost value and sacredness while lives of cows take priority.
One wonders whether the Federal Government has lost sight and complete focus on her constitutional and statutory responsibilities. It is even more worrisome contemplating whether embarking on this Ruga Initiative is not a clear case of misplaced priority on the side of the Federal Government.
It is somewhat deriding and ludicrous that the Federal Government abandoned her statutory responsibilities and dive into private issues that do not concern her. When did grazing become a national issue that demands the attention of the presidency? This RUGA saga is either a show of incompetence and ignorance on the part of the government or a clear exhibition of mischief.
On the 3rd of July 2019, one Mr Abdulazeez Suleiman, the spoke person of the Coalition of Northern Groups uttered some threatening statements on Channels Television in response to the opposition made by some governors against the Ruga Settlement.
He said: “While we warn all state governments that stand against the implementation of the RUGA Initiative to desist and give peace a chance, we place President Buhari and the Federal Government on notice that they must act to halt and completely stop this raging madness within 30-days beginning from today, Wednesday July 3, 2019”.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we advise the federal authorities and the Southern leaders to heed the 30 days notice, failing to; we will most definitely be left with no option than to consider resorting to our decisive next line of action”.
“We remind the nation that so long as the Fulanis would not be allowed to enjoy and flourish in any part of the country, including the South, no one should also expect us to allow any Southerner to enjoy the same in Northern Nigeria…”
If such statements are made on Television with boldness, one wonders what will be the fate of the villagers and land owners where they are proposing the settlements. That was an outright threat to public peace but unfortunately, nothing was done in condemnation or opposition of such threat.
It is rather unfortunate that in this country, Fulani Herdsmen are attacking and killing innocent citizens on daily basis without accountability and the president is saying nothing about it. Instead for the president is to act and lead the nation for the best interest of humans, all is now for the interest of cows.
For clarity, Part 1 and 2 to the Second schedule of the 1999 Constitution has clearly and unequivocally itemise issues on the Exclusive Legislative and Current List in exclusion of Establishment of grazing facilities by the Federal Government.
It is extremely hypocritical that the same Federal Government which is so insensitive, refusing and neglecting to implement the payment of the new Minimum wage even after threats to embark on strike the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is giving this expeditious concerns to RUGA Settlement, it is indeed pathetic.
Lest we forget, Section 14 (2)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria clearly states that the security and welfare of people shall be the primary purpose of having government as an institution and a machinery for the people. Sadly, the above provision of the lawis moribund in the current administration, lives of citizens have very little or no value at all as the government is not protecting her citizens but rather protecting the lives of cows.
The federal government has abandoned and neglected her most important statutory duty of protection and preservation of the lives and properties of the citizens to issues relating to cows and grazing. It is quite disheartening and pathetic.
A close observation from recent developments reveals that lives of cows are more valued and treasured than humans in the current administration. The government has excreted all available machineries to protect cows alongside with herdsmen while abandoning other citizens.
Ironically, Fulani Herdsmen have continuously killed hundreds of Nigerians, burnt houses, beheaded villagers, massacre motorists and pedestrians in day lights without being brought to justice but government authorities will rise to seek justice for cows if one is killed.
Sometimes in June 2018, it was reported that Yola High Court sentenced five persons to death by hanging for the murder of “a herdsman” and injuring of several cows, thus contravening section 96(1) and section 221of the Penal Code in Demsa Local Government in Adamawa state.
One now pauses to ask: If these herdsmen are tried, will heaven fall or will earthquake occur? Where were the prosecuting authorities when the mass burials ensuing from herdsmen attacks were conducted in this country? Can justice be one-sided? Will it be correct to say that justice was done, seen, said to be done, and heard to have been done?
If these herdsmen can kill anyhow when they are not settled in various states of the nation, we can only imagine what will happen when if they probably settle down. Without a doubt, they will annihilate the entire community in a twinkle of an eye.
With the situation of tribalism and nepotism by the Nigerian government at hand, clamouring for a better Nigeria is like letting an impotent sleep with a woman in ovulation overnight, which is an effort in futility. Hopping for the best from this nation is the easiest and fastest way of having hypertension.
With this piece of lamentation alongside with cries of other Nigerians, I call on the President of the Federation to take decisive actions, developing measures in combating this menace. Right to life under the constitution is inalienable.
Enough is enough. Let the rain of justice fall, heaven will not fall.
Edikan Ekanem is an Abuja based Legal Practitioner, Contemporary Writer and a Columnist. He can be reached @ 08130015006 or firstname.lastname@example.org.