• Sunday, April 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

Of Ruga, monkey business and matters arising (2)

Herdsmen Attacks: Ondo farmers cry out, seek govt, police interventions

At times like these, it’s imperative to be careful about what to say and what not to say. However, a man who feels ”somehow” about ”something” but fails to express that ”somehow-ness” is gradually dying, even though he is still alive.

This Ruga matter is obviously a handshake that has gone beyond the elbow! The Ruga matter shows clearly how our country is managed.

If we are to believe the government’s laughable story, the programme was not officially articulated or sanctioned. The government wants us to believe that an unknown director and his/her cohorts in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture just woke up one morning, moved down to Benue state, seized a large expanse of land and started the Ruga project. As Fela would say, “just like that!”

Other officials like Garba Shehu jumped in to convince us that it was a part of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (which itself raises a red flag, because it is still all about namacracy!) and that parcels of land have been gazetted for the programme across the country, even in areas that do not have enough land for normal socio-economic activities! He even openly contradicted the Vice President whose office warehouses the NLTP and who declared that Ruga was not NLTP and that he was not aware of its conception and operation.

Our dear president at first expressed surprise about the Ruga project, just as he expressed surprise about the Onoghen affair and the failure of the IGP to report to Benue as directed at the height of sustained invasion by these same foreign herdsmen. The government likewise claimed to have suspended Ruga but about N3 billion is allocated for it in the 2019 budget, which the president signed reluctantly.

Nothing happened to the officials of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture who seized and converted lands of their choice owned by people, , into an enclave for foreign Fulani herdsmen (FFH), who committed mass murder and mayhem in Benue state where it all began.  Their indiscretion and insensitivity nearly caused a local World War III!

Nothing happened to Shehu Garba who publicly contradicted and embarrassed the apparently helpless VP!

One Elekwachi is of the opinion that using collective funds to build exclusive and ultra-modern LGAs for FFH is nothing short of apartheid! But it did not start with Ruga.

The FFH are nomadic by nature- there is nothing wrong with that. But we, the good people of Nigeria, acting through the government, believe that it is not good for them and we have been doing everything possible to see them conform to our lifestyle which apparently is strange to them.

We want to modernise them by fire by force and in doing so, give them preferential treatments that surprise and anger of others. We started the nomadic education for them (how far with that programme sef?); we have proposed an Fulani (Fulfulde) radio station (as different from introducing Fulfulde programmes on national radio) and now, we have to “forcefully” excise large chunks of land from all over the country to establish “exclusive” settlements for them. These are FFH! It does not add up.

After the war, Ndi-Igbo were abandoned to their fate with the luckiest ones receiving 20 pounds, businesses destroyed and their houses confiscated especially in the brotherly states like Rivers. In a desperate quest for survival, (an extension of what we termed win-the-war efforts during the Biafran war of independence), almost all of the youths went into commerce, abandoned schooling and were abandoned by schools. No efforts were made to establish after-hour schools for them but many of them appreciated the import of education and educated themselves.

Today, a good number of them have managed to survive by dint of hard work. However, everywhere their shops and businesses are, there are always justifiable reasons to demolish, relocate and wrest these from them.

The 20-80 rule (Pareto Principle) urges us to concentrate our efforts on the 20 percent activities and elements that yield 80 percent returns. And I ask, on what basis are we focusing all national attention and resources on the Fulani (local or foreign) and their cattle? The business model of these herdsmen is unknown but it is certain that they are not a part of the national economy.

I went in search of their contribution to our distressed GDP and didn’t find anything. I admit I may not be good at searching for data on the web and allied platforms. But even without a proclamation from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), I make bold to say that these herdsmen and their nama, are not a part of our economy. Nobody knows the number of cattle they have, nobody knows the owners of these cattle, they do not have bank accounts, they do not rent houses and rarely do you see them getting involved in the local economy. They don’t even socialise with the “locals”.

So, what is the socio-economic significance of these FFH that will warrant so much federal concentration over the years?

Other matters: haunt for yahoo-boys, cobra effect, students as endangered species

Of late, and long before the FBI infamous list, the Nigerian police prioritised the haunt for yahoo boys, especially on routes frequented by youths and students. Initially, only students with laptops were harassed. Eventually, any student or youth with Android phones, jagajaga hair and trousers became prime suspects. Woe betide that student if he drives a car, especially, fresh cars. Before long, the cobra effect – a scenario in which a solution to a problem complicates the problem – became operational.

Last week, on a radio programmed a parent narrated how police at a checkpoint around Otta, ordered students with phones to come down from a transport vehicle and asked the driver to leave. Nothing had been found on the students and nobody bothered whether they had extra transport fare. Her son and driver who were on an errand to Ijebu-Ode were stopped. Unfortunately, the boy’s phone was dead. The policemen took the phone, charged it for about 10 minutes in the car and demanded that the boy and others: bail themselves with N5000. One of them who offered N4000 was asked to make it up! The mother made several calls to get her boy off the hook.

It is not an offence to be a youth or student, to have an Android phone or a laptop or even to dress in these outrageous attires, at least, not in Nigeria. And yet we want the youths (and others) to believe that ‘the police is your friend’ rather than fiend. The police have a lot of work to do. Frank Mba, PPRO, over to you!