As I sat listening to the classic: The Whole Town is Laughing At Me, by Teddy Pendergrass, the news came: The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Mohammad Sa'ad Abubakar III, has lashed out and condemned those calling for proscription of the terrorist Fulani herdsmen group, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), despite the series of murderous attacks launched against communities in different parts of the country. Really?
The Sultan who along with President Muhammadu Buhari and Emir of Kano, Sanusi are the prime patrons of the Fulani herdsmen, absolved MACBAN, of any culpability in the recent killings of farmers in some parts of the country by the terrorist Fulani herdsmen. He was speaking as the Grand Patron of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, at the peculiarly Nigerian papering-over-cracks-in-the-wall of our national existence meeting, at the General Assembly of Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace, IDFP, in Abuja, hurriedly convened by the Federal Government.
Instead of blaming Miyetti Allah, the Sultan categorically indicted the Buhari government and its security agencies for failure to arrest the perpetrators of the criminal murders of innocent Nigerian farmers. "How is it possible for Fulani to attack settlements or communities to carry out killings of innocent people, destroy property and disappear without trace?" he asked.
The Sultan, in another breathe, however, admits knowledge of the raging problem in Benue between the farmers and the Fulani herdsmen. He recalls: "This thing didn't start today. In the past eight years, I have been to Benue many times to discuss this issue. We had met for hours and reached agreements, yet nothing has been implemented. Why? The former governors of Benue are still alive and they know all these."
If those who committed the genocide and wantonly killed over 70 children, pregnant women and men in Benue are not members of the Miyetti Allah group, then the Sultan must know who they are since he has been intervening on their behalf, by his own admission, for the past eight years. For veiled in his speech is an attempt to indict the governors who have governed Benue state in the last eight years. He accuses them of failing to implement agreements reached as the major escalator of the pogrom.
It is clear that statements like this embolden the terrorist herdsmen, who are also
strengthened by the fact that the high and mighty in the north of Nigeria are in bed with them. From Jos, to Benue, to Taraba, to Enugu, to Delta, not one of these terrorists have been apprehended and dealt with. In fact, they appear funded and encouraged to import itinerant terrorists to commit havoc on target communities, and then made to disappear so that communities who rise up against the Miyetti Allah herdsmen who despoil farms, kill at will, and dare native owners to complain, can be coerced into forced acquiescence.
Not surprisingly, the Buhari government, whose body language and action so far indicates the President's soft spot for the group, is intensifying efforts to force every state in the country to create large expanse of land colonies for the Fulani herdsmen, at the states and indigenes cost! Colonialism by presidential fiat! This is notwithstanding the fact that the whole country is in uproar over the senseless killings. This adds a new notch to the gross incompetence and directionless leadership of the President Buhari administration. As a do nothing President, it is hardly surprising that the Inspector General who branded the gruesome murder of Nigerians as a communal clash, and the negligent and thoroughly biased security chiefs, the army, DSS, NIA, NSA, and indeed all managers of the nation's security architecture, are all sitting pretty on the luxurious dunlop of their offices when they should, by now, be jobless, sacked ignominiously for dereliction of duty. Were President Buhari to be a wee bit competent, his hammer should have fallen on them long ago. An Obasanjo or even the gruesome one, Abacha, would have done so, but not this parochial, old and grossly incompetent president.
I involuntarily shake my head to Teddy Pendergrass's The Whole Town is Laughing At Me, and to our whitewashed lies, the hypocrisy running amok in Nigeria. I am sad we chose to live a lie, damning the tragic consequences daily. I wonder if the Sultan and the President were not patrons to this killer group, if they too had suffered the slaughter of their family members, if their reactions and posturing would have still been the same. I am sad that at critical national moments, self interest, religion and ethnicity is made to trump our collective national interest. Which is a shame. We delight in self wounds and self conflagrations. Our penchant always is to score own-goals. We would rather evil is glorified, coated in pious nonsense and lies.
That's why the annoyingly horrific leadership response to the callous killings of innocent Nigerians is a further testament to why we are where we are, why we are retrogressing while the rest of the world boldly moves forward economically, socially and governmentally. It is amazing, yet tragic, how we can mismanage so simple a criminal matter; how, true to type, those we elected can decide, against their oath of office, to promote the narrow economic interest of a murderous group at the detriment of the lives and economic well being of generality Nigerians.
Yet the issue of herdsmen and their trade can be easily handled. No country the size of Nigeria still tolerates itinerant herdsmen. The efforts the government is putting in to force Nigerians to give up their ancestral land to Fulani herdsmen can be channelled into turning it into a huge multi trillion naira industry. States like Gombe, Bauchi are sitting on untapped wealth, which bowl in hand monthly rent seeking trips to Abuja to share oil money blinds them to. Intellectually lazy and greedy governors and political leaders in the states in the north that could easily provide land for ranches, as a business model, must wake up. If a small island nation like the Republic of Ireland can export over $10 billion worth of dairy products quarterly, imagine what a well articulated business model of ranching and industrialisation of dairy products can yield to our economy. Income from dairy products alone can dwarf, into insignificance, the so called oil dollars. When Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi attended a mini investment summit in Dublin in 2016, he was dazed to learn that milk from a 2500 herd of cows can annually turn in a profit of $6 million! Imagine what a 100,000 herd can generate!
The northern businessmen who own the cows, who employ the herdsmen, can do themselves and the nation a huge financial and investment favour, by making their cow herding business, a proper business through investing in ranches and industrialising their operations. Like Governor Ugwuanyi learnt, a single well tended cow can produce four litres of milk daily. At a conservative one dollar each, that's four dollars from each cow. In a year, from milk alone, one cow can produce N518,400. When you add multiply the add-ons and spin-offs, one cow can create over N1 million naira in the economy. Yet, we hold on to silly, primordial practices coated in sweat and death. Why won't a President Trump laugh at us?
That is why it behoves on us, Nigerians, to fight for the life of Nigeria. A country with so much potential, with so much unbelievable array of human talents, and material resources cannot remain kidnapped by the kind of inept leadership that we have been afflicted with.
We must know that the rest of the world, will only stop laughing at us, and stop treating us as a "shit nation", when we stop treating ourselves as such.