LET me begin with some words of appreciation for my readers. You are all wonderful, many of you read and find time to either write or talk back. Your contributions have made this column one of immense impact. For me many of the reactions are very inspiring, especially in our kind of environment, where it would seem that what one is doing is the argument of the deaf: you talk and those who should heed don’t. If our leaders read newspapers and news magazines and take to heart just 50 per cent of the prescriptions and observations, our nation would not be where it is. From what I know, dullards can successfully lead the nation or any component part by just reading the papers and adopting thousands of well researched suggestions that are churned out every day, but the problem is that our leaders don’t read and some of us who manage their media and communication affairs have over the years failed to get beyond the newspaper cut-out system to making our principals find time to read newspapers and news magazine themselves. Excuse of no time is not tenable because I know most Nigerian leaders can waste over six hours chatting with a friend, contractor agent and even concubines over choice alcoholic drinks. I have been in government to know that a president or a governor can end a resourceful day by 5pm. For a top class executive most routine administrative responsibilities can be handled at home in the night, after-all ‘masters of the night conquer the day.’
The Peoples’ Parliament would have sat today but the session is being postponed not because the Speaker or any other top official is facing trial over corruption charges. No, it is just that there are issues of urgent national importance we ought to deal with before we lose the platform from which we operate. Our nation has come under different kinds of assaults in past weeks in such a dimension that the very foundation of our existence as a nation is becoming very vulnerable. The situation is such that the intervention of all patriots has become inevitable if we are to nip these negative tendencies in the bud, before they become emergency cases, if they are not already. So I crave the understanding of our parliamentarians and assure the parliament would sit very soon especially now that we would begin discussions on the performance of the Buhari government. Observe that I did not use the word scorecard or verdict. The past one month has been one of blood, tears and sorrow across the nation; this is apart from the blood bath in the North-eastern part for years and which we are yet to be told what the causes are. Somewhere in Taraba State, some barbarians descended on one of the local governments and practically wiped out one community. We heard the report, saw the pictures of the devastation and the dead was accounted for, running into hundreds; we heard all that and two days after it was as if nothing happened.
We hid in passivity, no wonder these enemies of humanity became emboldened and shortly after, the innocent indigenes of Agatu in Benue State became the next unfortunate victims of these animals in human skin. These innocent villagers who may not have benefited from the Nigerian state in any manner became casualties of the veiled struggle for the soul of the nation; hoodlums invaded the area and by the time it ended, over 600 lives had been lost, houses and other properties razed and survivors became unwilling refugees in their own land. The governor of the state lost his voice, so did other prominent sons of the area. From there the marauders landed in some parts of western Nigeria including Edo and Delta states. In Delta a section of the people publicly protested the development and blocked the Asaba-Benin highway, a clear indication of what could follow if the issue is not given the rational attention it deserves. Penultimate weekend the evil gang landed in the Southeast with full force. In the first incident in a part of Enugu, the invaders met a stiff resistance from the villagers and the outcome was the massive arrest of the villagers and their detention in Umuahia prisons and the second and the most brutal was the one of last weekend in Nkanu area of same Enugu state. As you read this piece the nation is on edge, blood and tears flowing, and people seething with rage and the atmosphere thick with dark clouds of revenge. I would say a few things but let me mention some other related matters before; is it true that nearly 400 Shiite Muslim adherents were extra-judicially murdered in Kaduna? How could such a fatality have been the outcome of a mere disagreement over road passage between the army and that Muslim group? Why did the army claim that nobody died and why would Governor El-Rufai apportion blames even before he had a clear picture of what happened? Why have all of us, including the media reacted moderately to what is obviously a heinous crime? What would make soldiers of a nation turn their guns on citizens they have a responsibility to protect? Or is this clash a product of our new romance with Saudi-Arabia that is involved in a contest of superiority with Iran the traditional promoters of the Shiites? If we are serious, by now the defense minister, Chief of Army Staff and other officers involved would have lost their jobs, the same way Governor El-Rufai who spoke before thinking would have been preparing to appear before the International Court of Criminal Justice for crimes against humanity. On the religious bill in Kaduna, by now somebody should have told El-Rufai that the solution to the problem in Kaduna is not a law to control preaching but providing wealth through job creation and infrastructure turnaround for the people. The fear of religious uprising can be better handled through enlightenment, appeals and constant interfacing. El-Rufai ought to know that his option on its own raises a lot of suspicion across the nation. Few weeks ago the Department of State Security raised the false alarm that some Fulani men had been killed in Abia. On whose behalf did they do so, and why should such an institution that should work for the unity of the nation, take a position that is very divisive and inciting?
The issue of militia men masquerading as herdsmen is a serious matter we must put a stop to today or allow it fester and risk the unity of this nation. That issue can be handled in one week and I insist it should be done if those in government love this nation. It would not matter what authorities think, victims would have no choice but to react if things continue this way. Audu Ogbe, Agriculture minister and his collaborators in the National Assembly who talk about grazing points in 36 states miss the point. Everything cattle is a private business; I can hardly understand why in this era of privatization we want to make it a public concern; it simply defies logic. Beyond the instability promoted by the development, our nation risks food scarcity. I hope those fueling this know the harm they are trying to do to our nation.