By Bernard Balogun
Each passing day, as we get closer to 2019, the election year in Nigeria, the level of disinformation, misinformation and deceit in the polity get messier; and this makes me sad, especially from the moral angle.
Yes, deceit in the polity. Before anything else, permit me to send my belated commiseration to the bereaved families in Benue, Adamawa, Taraba, Kaduna, Zamfara, Niger and Rivers States. These deaths are avoidable and needless, if there is tolerance and understanding amongst our people. Long, long ago, we were told “….charity begins at home…..” That popular saying does not fly in the ears of our leaders anymore. Otherwise, I am just wondering, why would Governor Wike of Rivers State go to Benue State to commiserate with the good and ever hardworking people of Benue State and donated N200-million whereas in Omoku in Rivers State, he had not compensated those killed in the January 01 massacre.
I was told that my aburo from Odo-ona Elewe in Orita Challenge, Ibadan, now the Executive Governor of Ekiti State also visited Benue State to commiserate with our brothers and sisters who were bereaved. I thank him for such a display of brotherhood and solidarity but I am unhappy Ayodele Fayose donated N200-million on that occasion when he is still owing his workers many months salaries. As I write this narrative, I still doubt the story that the Governor donated that much. Please, readers understand me well. With N200-million Ekiti State Government can pay 70-Nos Directors at N350,000 per Director; 140Nos Deputy Directors @ N270,000 and 200Nos Assistant Directors @ N250,000 = all came to N112-million, 300-thousand naira. Please, I have deliberately used federal government salary scale, which is higher than States’ salary scale. Again, “…charity” they say, “begins at home…”
Please, I should not be misconstrued. It is a good idea to commiserate with the bereaved but first thing first. Put your house in order before attending to your neighobour’s house. That is “charity begins at home” as we were taught many years ago. Is that the case in this instant?
This is just one leg of the conversation.
Since the beginning of the year, the issue of the Nigerian economy has been down-played with the talk of Fulani herdsmen, the Buhari element of it, being a Fulani-man and the raging conversation of the anti-grazing law, to be or not to be, taking the front-burner.
Other developmental issues have been consigned to the back-burner, which is not the best. I honestly think, it is right we engage ourselves on the vexed and nagging issue of fuel scarcity- what is the way out?
Lasser fever is killing us in droves across the country, yet little attention is paid. The issue of the Fulani herdsmen is not new to the peoples of Nassarawa, Benue and Taraba States. It is a long standing issue dating back to around 2004 or so, as the recent press briefing addressed by distinguished Senator (Dr) Abdullahi Adamu has revealed. If Senator Abdullahi Adamu, whose tenure as the Governor of Nasarawa State ended in May 2007, can confirm that his administration confronted the monster called Fulani herdsmen” and was able to tame its rampaging tendency at that time, it means the present States’ Governors where this monster had reared its ugly head had not done enough to combat it. Senator Abdullahi Adamu revealed during the press briefing that he was in constant consultation with his Benue counterpart at that time, Governor Akume, and they were able to achieve respite.
If you ask me, I think some of the APC Governors have displayed insensitivity on this matter. Let us take President Olusegun Obasanjo recent letter as a guide, quoting the relevant portion on this matter:
……some (APC’s – additional emphasis mine) Governors, a day after 73 victims were being buried in a mass grave in Benue State without condolence, were jubilantly endorsing President Buhari for a second term! The timing was most unfortunate. The issue of herdsmen/crop farmers dichotomy should not be left on the political platform of blame game; the Federal Government must take the lead in bringing about solution that protects life and properties of herdsmen and crop farmers alike and for them to live amicably in the same community…….end of the quote from Obasanjo’s letter.
On the other hand, please read my friend, Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, exposition on the matter titled ‘With The President I stand’.
But instead of finding solutions, and joining to chart the way forward, some people are making political capital out of the killings. They are trying to use the orgy of bloodshed to advance their political interests, wanting to make it appear that it is a failure of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
After primitive fury was unleashed in Benue, and about 73 people were left dead, a sitting President eyeing reelection could also play politics with it, visiting and muttering the right words to impress the people. Nothing wrong. But for President Buhari, action speaks louder than words. Action stations, he told the security agencies. The Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Operations was first despatched, then the Minister of Interior, the Inspector General of Police himself, and then the Nigerian Army. Consultations were held with the governor of the state, with Benue elders, and now, a committee headed by the Vice President, made up of nine governors, has been set up to proffer solutions to farmers/herdsmen clashes. Action truly speaks louder than words.
True, very true, politicians are out to make/score cheap political points out of this unfortunate incident and unfortunately most Nigerians gullibly bought into their wrong reading of this primitive fury.
Why would Governor Ortom not consult with his Nasarawa or even Taraba counterparts to achieve respite, an approach which his predecessors applied before his own advent in government. Diplomacy in this matter is quite necessary. I thought, Governor Ortom ought to have invited the Miyetti Group, community leaders and security chiefs to a roundtable to seriously discuss the issue of cattles eating up farm produce and the need to create grazing colony. Even the Miyetti group will make input into the discussion and where there is stalemate, encourage the Miyetti group to go back to consult with their people on the way forward.
By this, the group is carried along, indeed they will feel satisfied and honoured. Perhaps, the Governor did not realize the sensitive nature of the Fulani herdsmen matter, which gave rise to the massacre sadly witnessed in January 2018. So sad indeed. If majority of the people decides to go for the “anti-grazing law” so be it but let there be sufficient education to eliminate any misgiving or wrong notion that the State hates the “Fulani people”. On this score, I believe, there has not been sufficient communication. In truth, the decision of the “owners of the land” is superior to those of the “nomaic Fulanis”. This is not a political statement but statement of fact and fact is sacred.
I am incline to believe that the massacre could be the handiwork of escaping Boko Haram remnant. Who knows? It could be a possibility. I am just thinking aloud.
The Buhari Angle
President Mohammedu Buhari, as a full-fledge Nigerian and the current president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has the right to re-contest for second term, if he so decides. It is therefore inconsequential to say “we will not vote for Buhari”. I often asked myself
“…who are these we?” In democracy, you speak more for yourself than for others, because only you know yourself, in-out, so speak for yourself. Of the 180-million Nigerians population, about 80-million Nigerians, who have so far registered with INEC can collectively take that decision on the election day in 2019. In any case, about 14-million Nigerians gave Buhari their votes in 2015. That number certainly has increased by now. There are those electorates, who during that election in 2015 did not vote for Buhari and/or APC. Their positions have since changed and are willing to give their votes to Buhari, in particular, because they have adjudged the Buhari presidency to have performed well in certain sub-sector of the economy. Many say, and this is neither here nor there, that because Buhari is a Fulani man, therefore reluctant to take a decisive action regarding the Benue massacre and such other places. This cannot be true of a man who fought in the Nigerian civil war to keep this country one. I am first to admit, Buhari is slow in taking action in this time, unlike his first coming in 1983.
The narrative is an attempt to discourage the level of disinformation, misinformation and deceit in the polity, which are quite misleading and do not represent the true happenings in Nigeria.
It is important to situate this narrative in its proper perspective. I have always advised, it is wrong, indeed totally wrong to use one segment of the nation’s affairs to judge other segments. The government may not be doing well on the “home-front” due largely to the huge cry of hunger and scarcity of fuel and such other related difficulty being experienced by the citizens. That is understandable and is allowed. But on the other hand and on “international front”, the Buhari administration has been commended by global financial institutions such as – WorldBank, International Finance Corporation, African Development Bank and such bodies. The country’s foreign reserve, which was depleted before 2015 has improved phenomenally.
The Excess Crude Account, which was plundered is now fantastically growing healthy. The Federation Account, which was looted dry, is now fresh and loaded. This is certainly not an indirect indictment on former President Jonathan, a man I hold in high esteem, of financial recklessness. I am one of those Nigerians who genuinely believe that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is a humble and honest man. That is my humble assessment of the former President.
Let me once more reiterate that this is not a campaign endeavour for the Buhari government. My narrative here is based on scrupulous research. In Nigeria, like in some other African countries, we do not read, yet we critique blindly. Permit me to give two quick examples to support this assertion.
Recently, I stumbled on a list of Nigerians whom they claimed have stocked our monies in some American banks. One person’s name on the list gave it out as fake or forged. Mr. Femi Adesina was No 9 on that list and had $1.9-billion ascribed to his name. I instantly shouted foul. Please, translate $1.9-billion into naira – it came to N58,1-billion. This is indeed laughable. (Pastor?) Femi Adesina please expect my knock at your door for a slice of your N58.1-billion. Let us get serious. Femi Adesina does not hold a Ministerial position. Take for instance, Nigerian electorates considered PMB worthy to run for third term, hypothetically speaking now and PMB graciously retained Mr. Adesina as his SA on Media & Publicity, there was no way such humongous amount of N58.1-billion could have been allocated to his office, not to his person. Haba, when will this bad-belle politics stop?
Let us go on mathematical excursion. What can 58.1-billion do for a people? With say N11-billion the ever present grid-lock in the outskirt of Abuja – Nyana-Mararabe-Ado-New Nyanya-Maska-Uke-Kuchikau-Keffi can tar this federal trunk A road, with side drainages and over 5-million Nigerians living in that axis shall experience tremendous relieve from the early morning and evening traffic gridlock. With another N15-billion the Garki General hospital, Gwagwalada General Hospital, Wuse General hospital, Maitama General hospital and Asokoro General Hospital shall not suffer from needed drugs for the in-and-out patients including upgrade of some needed medical equipment. To improve the educational standard in Abuja FCT, pump another N10-billion and the National Library shall be upgraded with needed books, professional books. With N2-billion to provide operational vehicles for the Police, Civil Defence, consider Peace Corp and of course, Federal Road Safety. Support PHCN with N2-billion for transformers for every nooks and crannies of Abuja. Total N40-billion leaving a huge balance of N18.1-billion. Just a reminder, my friend’s bubbling son is a pilot, flys Arik.
Mr. Adesina can float a domestic airline with his son, a qualified pilot, being the Chief Pilot. That is the quantum we are falsely made to believe, my pastor friend “cornered”, yet he is just an SA, whose office has a Permanent Secretary and other retinue of officials. Why do we run down public office holders? Certainly not everybody in government is bad. There are some who are God-fearing.
The week beginning with 19 February, 2018 a caller in Abuja during a “phone-in” radio programme, said “Senator Abdullahi Adamu as Executive Governor of Nasarawa State between 1999 and 2007 did not build and commission one single project”. Therefore he had no moral right to say former President Olusegun Obasanjo should be languishing in jail. No sir. You are wrong. This is not only laughable but a very painful disinformation. I am not here to defend Senator Abdullahi Adamu but I owe it a patriotic duty to inform and inform correctly. It is a known fact that it was during Senator Abdullahi Adamu as the Governor that he initiated, began, completed and commissioned what is now known as Nasarawa State University in Keffi. And the Nigerian Universities Commission appropriately accredited the University. I also know that in 2006 during his administration, he initiated and launched School Feeding Programme designed for Primary Schools in the State.
Though I have forgotten the name of the town but it is one of those towns as you drive towards Nasarawa To-To town on your right. The current Senator representing Southern District of the State, my distinguished friend and brother, Senator Suleiman (Samuel) Asonya Adokwe was the Honourable Commissioner, Information at that time.
These are deliberate attempt to rubbish the integrity of these gentlemen, who are actually doing something. They will defend themselves but I cannot stomach the lies and strident attempt to de-market or devalue the giant strides of these individuals and government.
On the Anti-Grazing Law
Let each State take action on this matter as it is peculiar to it. In taking a decision on this matter, let it be holistic. Let every segment of the society, because of the sensitive nature of the matter, be involved. Let no Governor hoist its personal decision on the people. For instance, it is obvious the good people of Benue State do support Anti-Grazing Law. Ditto In most States in the SouthWest. So be it. But in parts of Northern Nigeria they may support the Anti-Grazing Law.
Bernard Balogun writes from Wuse District, Abuja and could be reached via 08037879275