Governor Ortom has not done well in dealing with the crisis. He is a profiteer from the crisis. He is simply using the crisis for political effect. His interview on the programme yesterday showed the Anti-Grazing and Ranching Provision Law he signed was targeted against herdsmen of Fulani ethnic stock. A law or a government policy should not target any ethnic and sub-ethnic group.
Kadaria Ahmed again stamped her persona and brilliance as the anchor of her show, “The Core”, on Channels TV yesterday night. The panelists which comprised the minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh and three other people (a lecturer from the Bayero University Kano, a Police AIG and a female CSO activist) offered valuable insights into what the real problems in Nigeria are. The panelists also offered solutions.
Members of the audience too acquainted themselves well with the multi-disciplinary perspectives of the panelists on the crisis in the country. Kadaria was very firm and fair. She had total control of the show. Her firmness ensured that the language of discourse was decent and civil without name-calling. For a live national television programme, Kadaria as the anchor of a potentially explosive subject put up a command performance.
These are my takeaways:
One, the two-hour show was very educative and informative, as most people who watched from their homes and electronic devices would be better informed about the real issues and what should be the imperatives in seeking permanent solutions. A cattle colony was better explained by Chief Ogbeh as a cluster of ranches beyond the pejorative biological and zoological meaning. In a crisis situation words acquire new meanings. The power of words!
Two, Audu Ogbeh is a very knowledgeable and hands on minister of Agriculture. A repository of knowledge who, without doubt, is doing a good job, and being a man from Benue, he offered pragmatic solutions. I pray the governor of the state will play less politics with the crisis and allow for solutions to come through.
the Nigerian media does not know how to report conflicts… The media, especially the mainstream media, like typical Nigerians, are also emotional and maintain one-way tracks on national issues. The truth is always the victim when issues are blurred… The media accentuates crisis with their slanted reportage, and oftentimes media reports ignore the nuances and the real issues on the altar of sensationalism.
Three, it is almost true that it is in the DNA of a black man to live for only today. We leave problems to fester seeking only short cut solutions without thinking of tomorrow in all its ramifications. From the show, Audu Ogbeh recalled that Uthman dan Fodio, over 200 years ago warned about this same problem of herdsmen and farmers. 200 years after, we have not changed our practice of rearing cows through the same antiquated method, while in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, United States and many countries, it is a multi-billion dollar industry using modern methods.
Four, the Nigerian media does not know how to report conflicts and this was confirmed by Musikilu Mojeed, the editor-in-chief of PREMIUM TIMES, who reinforced the same view. The media, especially the mainstream media, like typical Nigerians, are also emotional and maintain one-way tracks on national issues. The truth is always the victim when issues are blurred. In most cases, the media blur issues in Nigeria for motives that are not ennobling and healthy for national development. The media accentuates crisis with their slanted reportage, and oftentimes media reports ignore the nuances and the real issues on the altar of sensationalism. The Nigerian media has refused to take the lessons on how the media was the major enabler of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The Red Cross, NEMA, NOA, DFID, UNDP and local CSOs with focus on governance and development should be organising trainings on conflict reporting for journalists. Universities can also run certificate programmes on conflict reporting for journalists.
Five, the social media is a force for good and evil in Nigeria, like it is all over the world. People without the foggiest idea on the practicability of a policy/initiative will shoot it down and abuse those with expert knowledge. When Audu Ogbeh said, two years ago, that ranching is the best way to solve the herdsmen/farmers problem, and that Nigeria, like other countries that have made successes of animal husbandry, must import grass from Brazil, he was shouted down and called names.
…religious/ethnic conspiracy theories should be taken out of the problem. The criminal elements causing trouble on both sides should be apprehended. Government must bring to bear all the terror machines of state to stamp out killers of Nigerians living in Benue or any part of the country. Those already arrested should be prosecuted.
Six, Governor Ortom has not done well in dealing with the crisis. He is a profiteer from the crisis. He is simply using the crisis for political effect. His interview on the programme yesterday showed the Anti-Grazing and Ranching Provision Law he signed was targeted against herdsmen of Fulani ethnic stock. A law or a government policy should not target any ethnic and sub-ethnic group. A law that only gives a one-year lease on land is not a progressive law. A government wants herdsmen to do ranching, yet will only give a one-year lease that is renewable every year. Who will make an investment on ranches in Benue when the government can decide not to renew your lease the following year? The governor of a state is not as helpless on security matters if he decides to work with the existing security structure in the state, unlike Governor Ortom makes it look. There is no commissioner of police, DSS director or Civil Defence commandant in a State who would not respond to a crisis situation or who would be instructed from Abuja to allow killings to continue. Governors in Lagos, Kogi, Ogun, Kaduna and other States that have experienced serious security breaches had worked well with the same federal security infrastructure available to them. When Ogun and Lagos State governors (Amosun and Ambode) needed the military to bomb Arepo and Ikorodu creeks, they got President Buhari’s approval. The criminals that used Arepo and Ikorodu creeks as base were taken out by the air force.
Seven, the security problems involving herdsmen/farmers in Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba, Zamfara, do not have the same colouration of the Fulani attacking and killing farmers, as is being reported by the media. The herdsmen are also victims of armed local militia, rustlers, the political and business elite.
Eight, the crisis will fester until government at all levels – federal, states and local government areas (LGAs) have the same singular and clear agenda to really solve it. The solutions are more with the States and local governments than the federal. It is LGAs that collect cow levies from cattle rearers and the law vests land with the state governors. One wonders why States and LGAs cannot take advantage of an economic activity with huge revenue potentials and maximise it to create jobs.
Nine, cattle rearing should be seen as a serious economic activity that requires government support, like other economic activities that government supports through fiscal regimes and other interventions.
Ten, religious/ethnic conspiracy theories should be taken out of the problem. The criminal elements causing trouble on both sides should be apprehended. Government must bring to bear all the terror machines of state to stamp out killers of Nigerians living in Benue or any part of the country. Those already arrested should be prosecuted. Social justice must be done, if not for anything, for the memory of the dead victims and to assuage the pains of the living.
Tope Ajayi, writes from Lagos.