Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
Traditional ruler of Nise in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra state, Igwe Romanus Ilo, has said that the herdsmen menace bedevilling the country is political, manmade and could only be resolved by the government. He spoke on other issues including disunity among the Igbo.
What’s your take on the spate of insecurity in the country especially herdsmen menace?
Let me tell you, the issue of Fulani herdsmen is man-made. It’s a political matter because Fulani herdsmen have been roaming around this country for several years. For the past years, we had never seen this type. Fulani herdsmen several years ago, about 10 years ago, didn’t look for your trouble and they weren’t creating any problem. They would carry their cows and go inside the bushes but immediately President Goodluck Jonathan left, we had a change of government, they feel that they are at the helm of affairs and that is where they brought what is in their brains, doing things with impunity, killing people without any provocation, doing what they know that they are not supposed to do and they weren’t doing that before. So, it’s a political manipulation, it’s a political set-up because it is intentionally done, it’s not by accident. It was never like this until the government was changed. So, you can compare and you see the difference and the worst is that all the complaints, all the reports; people, groups, individuals, organisations, etc, have been making to the government, none of them was used to remedy the situation politically, security-wise. When you are shouting, please I’m dying, I’m dying; the thing becomes worse. Killings everywhere and the government is not doing anything substantial to effect control.
So, what’s the way out of the problem?
The federal government knows what to do. Issue of creating ranches, it is better said than done. Creating ranches, if they could create ranches in their area because this business is private business; if you want to rear cows, like in our place, we rear goats but you won’t see goats outside. Our people are rearing cows but you won’t see cows outside. When they take it to the bush, after feeding, they send it home. You won’t go along the roads and you see cows roaming our streets here but our people have cows here and there. When you enter someone’s house, you will see where they are rounded up and feeding them inside their place. I am of the opinion that if they have to set up ranches where these cows will be kept and fed, it will be okay. It will solve the problem.
What about what the South East Governors said sometime ago that they don’t want cattle roaming on foot; instead, rearers should come and buy the grass and go and feed their cows up north?
It is easier to say but not done. Saying is for the fun of saying. Maybe we don’t want them. It’s just for ordinary talking so that people will hear what the governors said but where is the result? Who listened to them? No implementation, so the best thing is to encourage ranching in their area because if they carry cattle to this place, number one, some people are advising us to boycott the eating of cow meat. If everybody is not eating cow meat for six months, they know that if they bring it here they cannot sell; but I don’t see the possibility of cow meat boycott. How many chickens will you have? How many poultry will you have to control the effect? I think the best thing for that is to allow them have their ranches in their areas. Then any state that feels that they have about seven or ten square miles or three square miles to create as a ranch, it should be okay because when they come down, they will start destroying farm products, destroying cassava, destroying yam; and rice inclusive. That is the problem but if they can cage them somewhere, it will bring the problem down to 20 per cent, not that it will completely control it but 20 per cent will be okay. Once they are not destroying farmlands because it is from the issue of destroying farmland that they started kidnapping, started raping of women, going up and down. They come to the main road and kidnap and enter into the bush. If they were restricted, it will take care of the problem to the best of my knowledge.
It has been noticed that the Igbo find it difficult to come together, why?
Why we can’t come together is greed, greed for money. To come together, we shall form a party, a political party which you know that only one person will be governor; only one person will be chairman. When you say you want to be chairman, I’ll say I also want to be chairman, when you say you want to be governor, somebody else will say they want to be governor too and by so doing, struggle left and right. They cannot even conduct primaries. Even here in Anambra State, among Igbo themselves but I thank God PDP did their own last year, maybe fire has cut them in one ear and they learnt from their mistakes. I pray that lesson should continue in future. When you form a political party, you come together, from local government to state to form a tangible bloc to go to the centre where your own share of the cake will be given to you but our place here is not having understanding, not believing in each other, the greed for money. Hausa say let them start from money, we start from power. Go and kill yourselves for money, we will ourselves go for power because when you get the power, you have the money. This is the ideology of the Hausa, our northern politicians. The opposite is the slogan of our eastern and southern politicians, where do we get money, let’s bridge courts and that might be what is killing APGA now. APGA has gone; APGA is in coma because they sold the party. By 2021 and 2022, they will see clearly the writing on the wall. Now, they are seeing negative but time will come when they will see the real writing because that is the problem of the Igbo man. The Igbo person is the architect of their backwardness. Unless they change their attitude which is in their blood, they are very far from getting the share of the cake in terms of marginalisation and so on. That is the architect of our backwardness as far as governance is concerned. We are the architect of our own problem. That’s all.
Do you think that Biafra is the way out?
In my own wisdom, the issue of Biafra is very far from reality, I won’t say it may not happen. I say it is very far, it is from here to Maiduguri, it is very far and people who want to die because of it now better think twice because when you are crying over spilt milk, there’s no way you can amend it. I think the issue of Biafra is not realisable in the next 100 years but my thinking is that nothing is impossible for God to do. If God wants to show us mercy, only He can do it but whatever a man born of a woman as of now, it’s very hard, very far. I won’t say it’s not realisable but I will say the time will be more than 100 years to come. That is my thinking.
How do you think Nigeria can come out of its present situation?
My advice is for Government at all levels to think of the welfare of the citizens; the ruling class must always think of the welfare of the masses, not theirs and their families. They should think about how to establish viable educational institutions because education is the bedrock of development; how to establish things to take care of unemployment. When you take care of unemployment, you take care of insecurity in the community. They should think of how to establish good health facilities to take care of the poor and the rich. They should think of how to revolutionalise the ethics of governance in words, actions and all that. Government in Nigeria is football game, the people at the helm of affairs should allow ‘take and let me take’ because if we are eating with three pieces of meat, you take one, I take one, if you take two, problem will come. Greed, personal ambition, personal greed should be put aside. The ethnic nationalities that make up Nigeria should be allowed to take their own quota in governance. Once this is done, grudge, problems of ethnicity will be 70 per cent addressed.