SATURDAY POLSCOPE

By  Eddy Odivwri; eddy.odivwri@thisdaylive.com; 08053069356

It must have been a sad New Year for many families across the land. From Kaduna, through Benue to Kwara, down to Rivers, it was one tale of bloodletting or the other.

The coincidences of the killings are as befuddling as the intents.  It is difficult to understand the motifs of the killings. Perhaps only that of Benue State where thirty three people were slaughtered by suspected Fulani herdsmen can be understood as a reaction by the herdsmen to the anti-grazing law passed by the Benue State government last November1.  Like the attack on Agatu community, in the same Benue State, the latest attack cries of injustice to the high heavens.

The owners of the land passed a law that open grazing is no longer allowed in their land, given that the grazers have in the past, unleashed tons of violence on their people, unchecked. And then the grazers retreat and relaunch another attack killing 33 people in one fell swoop. And the same usual government hollow mantra of: “we shall do all we can to bring the perpetrators to justice”; “government will leave no stone unturned (whereas they do not even sight any stone let alone turn them)”;  “no effort will be spared in enforcing the security of lives and properties etc. etc.”; are reeled out by government representatives, whereas they know that truly and truly nothing will be done beyond the weightless statements they are making. In this latest attack, the Minister of Interior, Maj-Gen Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd) represented President Buhari in paying condolence to the Benue State Governor, Mr Samuel Ortom, who had shouted himself hoarse as he helplessly wailed and wondered why the law enforcement agents, all along, had not arrested the herdsmen who now go about with sophisticated weapons.

Right from when Agatu community was razed down with over 400 people massacred, since February 2016—almost two years now, not one person has been arrested and prosecuted as a result of the pogrom visited on the community.  How can a set of people suddenly wake up and launch attack on defenceless and innocent people in a land where there is law and order? Is it because those who could do something about this menace are the kith and kin of the marauders? Where is the Chief of Army Staff? Where is the Minister of Defence? Where is the IG of Police? Where is the Chief of Air Staff? Where is the DG of SSS? And above all, where is the C-in-C? All of Whom as from the same region. Why are they all silent in the face of this wicked oppression? The IPOB menace was not even half as annihilative before the Nigerian state rolled out tanks to crush them. Why are the Fulani herdsmen therefore being pampered? They recently struck in Plateau, in Adamawa, in Taraba, Kaduna States etc. And wherever they strike, they leave behind long trails of blood and tears. It is not enough to condole victims whenever the assailants strike. Nigerians would prefer that those who perpetually threaten their lives are nabbed and jailed. Nothing else will suffice. Not empty talks and promises. The Fulani do not own Nigeria more than the Idoma! The governor and people of Benue must resolve not to shift ground on the law they have passed on not allowing open grazing in their land. It is within their right!

Sadly too, the case in Kaduna where a monarch and his wife were murdered on New Year eve bespeaks of the same brainless attacks by the suspected Fulani herdsmen.  It does appear that there is a daily depreciation of the value of human life amongst these people. They even value their cows more than human life. Were it not so, there would be some restraint to moderate the frequent thirst for blood among the herdsmen.

In the case of Kwara State, where churches and worshippers were attacked on New Year eve, in Ilorin, the state capital, saw many female worshippers returning from the Crossover service raped, with their phones and purses snatched. Church buildings and other properties were destroyed and vandalized by miscreants believed to be religious extremists. Ilorin has often been a hotbed of religious unrest. The much we heard from the state was a tepid statement from the state governor condemning the attacks and ordering an investigation. That is the end of the story. Trust me. Nobody will ever hear of the outcome of the so-called investigation

But the worshippers in Omoku, Rivers State were not as lucky.  Seventeen (some reports say 20) of those returning from the Crossover service were shot dead. Some were even dragged out from their homes and shot dead in the presence of their wives.

Omoku, is one community in Nigeria where life means nothing. People are brutally killed with valueless spirit. But this is usually during or around election times. During the 2015 elections, Omoku was like a killing field. Many who were killed were beheaded with the assailants going away with the heads of their victims.

That it is happening at a time there is no election readily in sight bespeaks of the depth of violence the community has sunk.

Already, Governor Nyesom Wike has placed a bounty of N200million on the head of the killers. I doubt if that will solve the riddle of mindless killings in the Omoku community in particular and in Rivers State in general.

If you add to these overflowing wells of blood, the killings orchestrated by Boko Haram in the North-east and by kidnappers across the land, then one might fear that soon, River Niger would get crimsoned by the blood of innocent Nigerians. Let the killings stop!

Buhari and the Love of the Dead

When would the newly-appointed board members to Federal Government agencies be inaugurated?

The dead are yet to confirm the venue and the time. The inauguration will take place soon as they are agreed on those details.

What do you mean?

Exactly what I said. I spoke English.

What kind of stupid English did you speak? I am talking of appointed Board members and you are taking us to the morbid realm.

It is not me that is taking you to the morbid realm. It is our President. Or did you not hear that he appointed (folding each finger as he counts) one, two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight men into various Government agencies and parastatals? Or did you hear that he has replaced the names of the dead Nigerians so appointed?

Come on, don’t be cheeky my friend. Everybody knows it was a mistake. The presidency has even apologised. So why are you over-dramatising the human error? After all, to err is human and to forgive divine.

  

What kind of apology is that? In a country where unemployment is rising so faithfully and dutifully, a country where over four million jobs have been lost in the last two years, a country where companies are shutting down and even those who are employed cannot be paid, leading to suicide, then a government is unabashedly announcing the appointment of eight dead persons when the living are itching to be employed.

Awwwww, take it easy. The government has said the list has a history and that…

(cuts in, raising his palm, like  a traffic warden) Please spare me that nonsense. What kind of history? Why did you not ask them if the list also has a Geography?

They explained that the list had been drawn up two years ago. And that at the point of releasing it, they could not check to edit  and update it. Why would a list even last in their hands for two whole years? What were they doing with it?

Is that not the narrative of the incompetent and the weak? Only in Nigeria will such a faux pas be explained away in such vexatious negligence and everybody will carry on as if nothing was wrong. The next thing they will say now is to set up a committee to investigate when and how the people affected, died without official notice to the secretary to the government of the federation. And a few millions of Naira will flow out. That’s how we roll!

You are being unduly comical. It was an error, and it’s been acknowledged. Let the nation move on.

What kind of error? Did you not hear one presidential appointee, Prof Itse Sagay, a SAN for that matter, defend the action, asking whether President Buhari should have gone knocking from door to door to ascertain who was dead and who was still alive before making his appointments? Is that the tone or language of a government that is apologetic?

Itse Sagay, is neither the spokesman of the government nor of Mr President. So, you will do well to ignore such side and off-record commentaries.

Ok, do you know that over 70 per cent of the said appointed dead people died at over 75 years old? In a country where the youths are idling away because of joblessness, a government that is devoted to growing the economy is thrusting government business into the hands of septuagenarians and octogenarians? People who are already in the Departure Lounge of life!  What fire do such people yet have left in them to drive government business in a modern world driven by technology and stiff open market competition? I am sure the likes of Edwin Clarke and Balarabe Musa would have also made the list if they were not vocal voices in the opposition camp.

You know experience is not what you can buy in the market. Many of these people  you are referring to are doyens of administration and…

(cuts in) You mean analogous doyens?

Look, the point to make is that these experienced people know and understand how government works. They understand the intricacies and nuances of bureaucracy. They are a lot more careful, unlike the rash and rave of younger folks who are …

(cuts in again) It is this “nuances and intricacies of bureaucracy” that has put Nigeria where we are today. The old crooks who are never willing to let go, or allow the younger folks to step in… they have perfected all the tricks in the book on how to circumvent the Nigerian system. They know all the short-cuts to fraud and all the untraceable password to the public till. They are why Nigeria is where she is.

I think you should free your mind. President Buhari means well in looking for people who can deliver. It is unfortunate that death had claimed the affected persons.  No doubt, there are many able and intelligent Nigerians that will soon be appointed to replace those who have joined their ancestors.

I want you to first admit that President Buhari has an uncanny love for old people like him. That was how he went to appoint an 82-year-old papa, Sylvanus Nsofor, as Nigeria’s ambassador to the United States. Is it that Mr President does not trust the Nigerian youth?

How can you say that? Who else but Buhari has ever appointed a 40-something year old as Minister of Finance? Or how else can a youth be, if not a Kemi Adeosun? Do you know that the likes of Kayode Fayemi, Rotimi Amaechi, Abubakar Malami , Mrs Aisha Abubakar, Femi Adesina, Garba Shehu etc., are all very young people?

Look, I don’t care how much defence you mount for Mr President. Go and tell him that it is bad enough that his appointment pendulum is often tilting to the old and the weak, yet it will be damn unpardonable if he finally starts looking into the club of the dead to appoint.

Stop overplaying the point. It was an error and it won’t happen again. Please let the dead rest in perfect peace.

Pix: Buhari.jpg