The North is Always Ahead

If you want to be a good politician, be a student of Northern Nigeria politics. They know the best time to push, the best time to strike, the best time to align and the best time to withdraw.

Two to three years back, the whole of Northern Nigeria was against Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State. The reason was that Governor Ortom had accepted to sign into law a bill presented to the Benue State House of Assembly by a group known as Movement Against Fulani Occupation (MAFO). This group was the architect of Pastor Edward Dooga, Solomon Mfa , Inalegwu Sam Abah , Mallam Gambo, among several other non- partisan progressive Benue people.

Governor Ortom was not initially in support of this bill, he had earlier sent an executive bill to the State House of Assembly to facilitate the allocation of land and other resources to Fulani herdsmen in Benue. During a public hearing in Gboko, youths became angry and disrupted the public hearing calling such bill, a Meyitti Allah bill in Benue. Two weeks later, Rt. Hon. Terkimbir Kyange, then Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly had gone to Lessel to inform some “stakeholders” about his interest to go to the National Assembly by 2019. A young man threw a comment from the side – “If as Speaker of BSHA, Kyange will collect bribe to enact a Meyitti Allah bill in Benue, if elected into the National Assembly, won’t he sign that the whole of Tiv land should be given to Fulani?” This question became a disruptor. Kyange left the venue with a high burden. To save his political career, Kyange had to resurrect the anti-open grazing and ranches establishment bill and ensured its passage. Upon the passage of the bill, he had now washed his hands off the matter and handed the buck to the governor. As a smart politician, the governor went with the people and became The Defender of the Benue Valley.

The signing of the anti-open grazing and ranches establishment bill into law in Benue was opposed by every known power in the North. Even governors of the so-called North Central where the Fulani herdsmen were having a field day in killing and destruction of property, were against Ortom. The Governor of Plateau State could even come on national television to condemn Benue position on open grazing. Even politicians in Benue especially those that wanted to be in the good books of the North, were against Ortom. There was only one Prof Alkali from Kano who stood in support of the anti-open grazing law.

President Muhammadu Buhari, the security agencies and all those aligned to him openly supported the blood-letting in Benue which the Meyitti Allah cattle breeders association promised to bring to Benue as a result of that bill. The Northern Governors Forum could not even come to sympathize with Benue. At a point, the Tiv people who are kinsmen to Governor Ortom were attacked in Nasarawa and Taraba States by Fulani herdsmen because of the bill even though these states didn’t have such bill. No northern Politician said anything. Even the police could only call Ortom a drowning man.

Today in 2021, as 2023 draws near, the Northern power brokers have started singing a different song. The Northern Governors’ Forum has suddenly woken up to realize that open grazing is out dated. Interestingly, the Arewa Consultative Forum has backed the NGF. Wow! Good news. These were the people supporting all sorts of plans by the federal government such as grazing reserves bill, RUGA settlement, waterways bill and all that. The music has changed today. Glory to God in the highest.

Could it be that the people who were being used by the north to administratively push these things are no longer in their offices? The former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh was one such voice. Could it be the change in the service chiefs? Could it be because as 2023 smells the emergence of a southerner taking over as president, the north needs to put their house in shape? Could it be a bargain to calm the nerves of those using the Fulani herdsmen terrorist attacks to agitate for restructuring? Could the rise of Sunday Igboho given a signal that the ever-compromising South West may sing a different song? The fear of Sunday Igboho seems to be more than the fear of Ghana. Because the support Sunday Igboho has gotten was never given to any Ghana or Senegal. The Fulani from Mali, Chad and Niger always get all the support.

In all of these, always remember that when it comes to politics, the North will always be ahead because they know the best time; when to strike and when to withdraw.

Comrade Martin Iorsamber, Lafiya, Nasarawa State

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