Nigeria: Cattle Colonies - the Big Debate

13 September 2018

The modern world is thinking smart and creating digital community but here we are in Nigeria going back into primitivism and placing more value on cattle than human life. Our leaders in the 21st century prefer to encourage citizens to remain foraging in the open field and sleeping with cattle in the bush in the worst form of itinerant nomadic life style. Nigeria did not become cattle colony today as citizens have always played the cattle since independence. How else would you describe a place where leaders treat citizens more like sub-human apes and brazenly steal and waste our common patrimony in the worst form of abuse without resistance?

It is only in a cattle colony that the chief herdsman and his shepherds would eat up the lush green and succulent grass meant for the cattle without civil resistance. The ordinary man on the street lives in deprivation of the basic necessities of life and we inundate God with supplication for divine intervention. Yet God gave us head and mind and we fail to employ them to solve our problems even the basic ones that are within our strength. More than ever before, religion has become opium for the people and government promote religious activities more than creative ventures to develop the society. We cannot continue the way we do and expect the mercies of God as the scripture says, 'can we continue in sin that grace may abound, God forbid!'

We are witnessing the worst form of insecurity in Nigeria today that is paling the insurgency in the Northeast into insignificance. Today, with armed security escort, people dread to travel road Abuja-Kaduna. Even when we are carrying our prayer beads and wearing cassocks, we are scared to travel the road. Travelers on that road have to write their Wills and tell relations to prepare a handsome ransom for kidnappers and marauders that have taken over the road. The same is true of Lokoja - Okene roads and indeed roads across the entire country. There is a yawning security gap and whatever the security forces are doing is just a tip of the iceberg. Whatever theory of security we may choose to parrot, the reality is that we are not safe in Nigeria even to our homes that should provide some measure of safety including the poorest neighborhood and shanties. There seem to be no coherence in the fight against insurgency and insecurity and where efforts are made, it is selective in its clinical execution that leaves citizens in doubt about government honesty.

Benue State has been in the news for too long for the wrong reasons that have elicited global attention because of the activities of killer herdsmen who have gone berserk killing innocent citizens and burning down homes. Security responses have been lethargic and lackluster and it is becoming so intolerable that people may not have any other choice but resort to self-help to protect themselves. This may have far reaching effect to our corporate existence and is capable of determining our fragile federation which we do not seem to know what to do with it. In all the killings and loss of lives in such bizarre circumstances across the country, the president had never found it necessary to visit the scene to condole with the people himself. The government template in reactions to all the killings is to condemn in strong terms, and promising to bring perpetrators to book which it has never done.

The response of the security and intelligence communities leaves one at a loss whether we truly can trust our government to protect us. When the communities that have come under attack would allege with first-hand information that the invaders and killers are Fulani herdsmen, the security and intelligence communities are quick to respond that the perpetrators are foreigners with automatic weapons. In all these, they have not been able to fish out these foreigners to persuade Nigerians that it is not our brothers and kinsmen within the Nigerian border that are behind it as they are wont to believe. By now, the security community should know the routes of these foreigners and engage them decisively and allow Nigerian communities to leave at peace with one another.

The Nigerian electorate invested so much capital in President Muhammadu Buhari arising from his perceived no-nonsense bearing during his stint as the Military Head of State in 1983 believing that he could combat insecurity and fight corruption. Remember it was the same government that jailed some alleged corrupt politicians for up to 300 years in prison. Today, the president and his team are hardly able to deal with even the most basic of the need of the citizens besides the nagging problems of insecurity and the economy.

Well into two months, Nigerians are still agonizing at the queue at the fuel pump waiting to buy petrol in an oil producing nation. Appointments in perceived key and strategic positions are lopsided and the president and his team see nothing wrong about it. Rather than address the genuine concern of interest groups and the nation at large to assuage the nerves of people hurt across the country, they prefer a diatribe and pour venom on detractors and the opposition. The honeymoon is over with the Buhari's All Progressive Congress-led government as there is no redeeming feature in the government to give hope to Nigerians who are justifiably despaired.

President Buhari has surrounded himself with the worst breed of ministers ever known in our modern history and he does not seem to know what to do with them. The government would be suffering from amnesia to say that Nigerians are impatient if after three out of four year's tenure without achievements in the key sectors contained in the manifesto of the APC and still expect people to queue behind them.

The cattle colony has been created in our minds long before now and making it a big issue today, to me is unnecessary distraction. Itinerant lifestyle may have been the traditional way of life of our Fulani herdsmen but if our leaders still prefer them in the 21st century to remain in the bush chasing cattle, wasting lives and farm lands, then someone has to question the corpus mentis of our leaders.

This is the time for us to organize as Nigerians; not as Hausa Fulani, Yoruba, Ibo or Efik. It is not an issue of North-South dichotomy; it is not about Christians and Muslims which our leaders have promoted above our humanity and oneness. We must demand that government should do its duties and provide safety and security for every Nigerian; they must remove weapons from unauthorized persons and non-state actors. There are still genuine Nigerians in this country with patriotic fervour not the merchants who parade themselves as political leaders and honourables without morals. Let us remove the cattle colony from our mentality and give Nigeria direction.

Hadejia wrote this piece from NOUN Gusau Centre Zamfara State.

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