From Magnus Eze, Enugu, Chukwudi Nweje, Lagos, Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan, and Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
A number of socio-cultural groups and organisations in the Southern part of Nigeria as well as the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) yesterday launched scathing attacks on Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai over his comments that the anti-open grazing law passed by the Southern states was not implementable.
El Rufai had said at the National Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Abuja, on Tuesday, that the southern states of Nigeria were politicising the issue of anti open grazing.
He also said the Northern States Governors Forum had already taken a position that open grazing is not a sustainable way of livestock production, but that ranching could not be done overnight, even as the law passed by the respective state assembly was not implementable.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere, Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) and other groups descended of Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai on what they termed his “unguarded statement.”
The groups said the governor by his statement merely displayed the supremacist arrogance that the Fulani were noted for.
National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Alex Ogbonnia said El Rufai’s statement is a manifestation of his arrogance and attempt to intimidate the south.
He said: “Gov El Rufai is trying to show arrogance in the sense that 17 southern governors met and took a position on anti-open grazing and he, one governor, cannot even respect the position of 17 of his colleagues. Secondly, he is contradicting himself. Gov El Rufai talked about open grazing no longer being sustainable and said he is constructing ranches and at the same time he is saying that the anti-open grazing law signed by his southern counterparts is not implementable. Thirdly and most importantly, he is telling us that control of the security infrastructure of the country lies somewhere else and that we don’t have the security apparatus to enforce the anti-open grazing law. That is why we must insist on restructuring of Nigeria so that regional security outfits like Ebubeagu and Amotekun will be fully empowered to implement the law.”
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), in a statement by its spokesperson, Emma Powerful affirmed that the bill has come to stay just as it vowed to implement it if the southern governors fail to do so.
Powerful who also maintained that the Kaduna governor’s utterance has exposed his ignorance about the bill, assured that he can never intimidate the south into backing out of their agreement.
“IPOB and Biafra in general can’t afford to allow El-Rufai divide us. The Southern governors have come together against him and his co-traitors in the country and that is what matters. They have bitten more than they can chew.
“Anti-Grazing bill in the South has come to stay and there is nothing anybody can do to change our resolve towards this law against anti- grazing in our territory. El Rufai’s utterances show he’s ignorant.
“If the Southern governors fail to implement the bill, IPOB will implement it and we would stand shoulder to shoulder with them.”
ADF spokesman, Abia Onyike said the Kaduna governor and his gang should bury their heads in shame for destroying the country instead of infuriating already angry Nigerians.
Onyike said: “That is a demonstration of el-Rufai’s arrogant display of his Fulani supremacist mentality. Otherwise, who is he to dictate to Southern Nigeria? Is he not ashamed of the crisis and violence in Nigeria today, which he and his fellow travellers bequeathed to the country? He should keep quiet and bow out in shame by 2023.”
MASSOB leader, Uchenna Madu said the governor was hypocritical on the ban on open grazing of Fulani cattle by the Southern Governors’ Forum. He said that it was unfortunate and disappointing that the wheels of disunity and disaffection among ethnic nationalities was being driven by el-Rufai, a supposed nationalist.
MASSOB said the governor would not decide for the people of Southern Nigeria, pointing out that the era of divide and rule, planting of disaffections and brotherly discord by the Arewa people in the southern regions was no longer fashionable and workable.
According to Madu, the governor can no longer withstand the future political reality that will eventually change the political narrative of the Nigerian state.
“MASSOB advises the governors of Southern regions and other leaders to disregard him and his parasitic teammates because of their venomous hatred against the political interest of people of the southern regions. He has insulted the Southern Governors’ Forum and Christians in general.
“The indigenous people’s of southern Nigeria can no longer tolerate such political neglect or callous statements against the interest and justification of their interest in Nigeria.
“Even though MASSOB struggle is for Biafra actualization and restoration, we are not against the political and social interest of the south. Every political and economic rights of the people of the southern regions must be supported and sustained,” the MASSOB leader stated.
President of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Dr Bitrus Pogu said the submission of Gov El Rufai on the anti-open grazing law was unfounded. He said the Nigerian government has no business taking care of the foreign Fulani, who he said constitute majority of the migratory herders in Nigeria and insisted that they be sent back to their respective countries to be catered for by their home governments.
He said: “Enforcement of the anti-open grazing law is based on determination. If Gov Samuel Ortom is able to implement anti-open grazing law in Benue State, then it is implementable. The southern governors should find out how Gov Ortom was able to implement the law in his state and do the same thing. Moreover, most of the Fulani roaming the forests are not Nigerians, let every foreign Fulani go back to his home country. Every country should take care of its Fulani. The ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement does not mean that foreign Fulani should come to Nigeria and cause trouble.”