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Governor Bello and politics of cattle colony in Kogi State

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Governor Bello and politics of cattle colony in Kogi State

By John Akubo.

By accepting to establish cattle colonies in Kogi State and incorporating the leadership of Fulani herdsmen into the government structure as panacea to ending incessant clashes with local farmers, Governor Yahaya Bello is courting the anger of opposition elements who alleged that his aim was to infiltrate the voting population to manipulate next year’s elections.

Because of misgivings about the proposal to establish cattle colonies as solution to incessant violent clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farming communities across Nigeria, the idea is attracting stiff opposition especially in the Middle Belt and southern part of the country.

While it seems that the Federal Government is determined to have its way in executing the proposal and a sizable number of the states in the north appear to be cooperating in that regard, the issue has become controversial in Kogi State, which geographically is located on the cattle route between the northern and southern parts of Nigeria.

Because of this, a web of politics is being woven around the proposal as the state governor, Yahaya Bello, who is not only supportive of the colony proposal but also seeking residency for nomadic herdsmen in the state, is already facing opposition from many stakeholders.

In accepting the proposal, which was initially propagated by the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe, as the only panacea to curb the crisis, which came to a head early this month when 73 persons were massacred in Benue State, Bello said Kogi would be ready to host the pilot scheme of the cattle colony before it is spread to other states.

But the governor’s position is being met with stiff resistance from the Igala-speaking Kogi East and Yoruba Okun-speaking Kogi West. Major stakeholders in the two senatorial districts said they would not cede any of their lands to create the proposed colony. Curiously, even many Fulani herdsmen, the supposed beneficiaries of the policy, are also averse to it.

Other interest groups have been expressing their rejection of the proposal especially with the alleged continuing attacks on Benue and Taraba communities, which have not abated since it started early this month.

Coming on the heels of that terrifying episode, many indigenes are skeptical about the intention and what the colony is meant to achieve for state and its economy giving the fact that cattle rearing is personal business that will benefit only the owners.

Their opposition may not also be unconnected with their own experiences of the menace of the violent attacks from the Fulani bandits in many communities of the state that had led to deaths in the past.

Their skepticism was also by the background information that most of the issues of insecurity in the state in kidnappings and armed robberies were being linked to the activities of Fulani herdsmen.

Those opposed to the proposal were also concerned that despite the passage of Anti-Open Grazing Law, which is meant to reduce friction between herders and farmers in Benue and security measures being put in place in Taraba, the carnage by the herdsmen continued unabated.

But the Kogi governor, who has been having an uphill task in convincing the people of his good intentions, is looking at the issue from a different perspective of integrating the Fulani leaders into the state’s critical decision-making organs at the traditional, local and state levels.

For him it is better to bring the herdsmen closer to make it easier to track and trace their nefarious activities through their own leaders who would have been incorporated in to the governance structure of the state.

According to sources, the governor is also looking at the economic benefits in terms of the revenue the state can generate in from the cattle economy through investment in beef and dairy.

Bello’s approach may not be far from that of his predecessor, Captain Idris Wada who did a pilot project where some missionaries in Ajaokuta local council partnered with his administration to establish a school with electricity and borehole and a piece of land that was divided into five segments for grazing.

Wada while proffering solution to the Fulani herders/farmers clashes recently recalled that during his tenure, “A large plot for grazing land was provided, so that as the cows were in one section grazing, another section was being watered for the grass to grow.

“After a month or two the cattle were moved to the next section, while wetting is applied to the first portion they just grazed.”

According to him, “My government spearheaded the project with these missionaries and it transformed the lives of the Fulani settlers in Emiworo. The Fulani girls and boys were transformed to modernized, educated and intelligent children. I think it is a solution that can be replicated across the country where the Fulani can be settled and be part of the society and then carry out their occupation of animal rearing without destroying anybody’s farm land.”

While following his predecessor to offer the olive branch to the herders, Bello who had earlier rejected calls for the enactment of Anti Open-Grazing Law, went further by putting the burden of maintaining peace on the shoulders of traditional rulers and council chiefs, threatening them with dethronement should a clash with the herdsmen occurred in their domains.

The major huddle for the governor however, has been the negative perception by his political opponents who read political meaning into these actions. Their misgivings are not unconnected with the forthcoming 2019 elections as they believe his open invitation for the Fulani herders is to better his political lot.

They alleged that most of the new Fulani arrivals are being made to register to get voters’ cards in view of the to vote during the elections stressing that Bello’s motives were hidden in the belly of patriotism.

But the state’s Director-General, Bureau for Information, Abdulkarim Abdulmalik, explained that those opposed to the policy misunderstood the real intent adding that cattle colonies will check criminal activities as well as the incessant Fulani herdsmen/farmers clashes.

He indicated that the establishment of cattle colonies in the state will help restrict movement of herds to a particular location that can help to check their activities and that it would enhance security of lives and property across the country.

Abdulmalik noted that the migration of nomadic herdsmen from one place to another with their cattle causing hostilities and devouring farm produce with impunity was now a major source of concern to the people in the communities.

“The time had come to curb the menace arising from the indiscriminate movement of the herders and their cattle and the government felt it was better to curtail their movement. Government says let them have a designated place where they would be restricted with their animals if they disobey and anything happens they would be liable.”

According to him, those opposed to the creation of cattle colonies misconstrued the position of the government to integrate the nomads in a traditional structure in collaboration with their leaders at community and state levels.

“Henceforth, if there is any problem there is a line of communication through which they could be resolved. If we don’t integrate them, they are still passing by and they are destroying your products, it becomes more difficult for us to do anything.

“So, we have to be broad-minded and look at the issues rationally with open mind devoid of political mischief. We need them, they need us and they are of some economic benefit to us just as we are to them. All that is needed is for us to look at the nagging problem areas,” he emphasized.

However the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state is not swayed by the explanations of the government expressing dismay “at the action of a government that has offered the land and people as a laboratory to test an ill-conceived lethal policy.”

In a statement signed by the party’s Publicity Secretary, Bode Ogunmola, the PDP said it has “been following the debate on cattle colony since the unfortunate new year massacre of over 70 villagers in Benue State by suspected herdsmen.

“Not surprisingly, most states, governed by the All Progressive Congress (APC) rejected the idea. But, without consultation, Governor Yahaya Bello eagerly and enthusiastically welcomed it. As we speak, truck loads of the herdsmen have started arriving our communities.”

Ogunmola said by last weekend, three trailer loads of herdsmen arrived Aghara, a small community in Kabba-Bunu local council and that “they arrived with a letter directing the traditional ruler of the village to submit to them without complaints. We have received similar reports from other parts of the state. Without doubts, our state is under siege.”

He alleged that the immediate plan of the government is to mandate the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), to register the mostly foreign herdsmen so that they can be used to rig the fourth coming 2019 elections.

Ogunmola who decried the high security risks and the long-term negative implications of the policy said, “God forbid that aliens should be the people electing leaders over us in Nigeria. We do not know of other pecuniary gains Bello and his Abuja cohorts hope to harvest from the evil scheme.

“We reject the evil scheme in totality and therefore demand its immediate reversal. Farming is the mainstay of our economy. We cannot submit our collective patrimony or donate our God-given land to herdsmen, who at best are private businessmen. We say it loud and clear, cattle colony is a satanic policy, Kogi people reject it.”

Culled from the Guardian

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Implosion in APC may not give PDP victory in 2023 if the party does not put its house in order says Lamido

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Implosion in APC may not give PDP victory in 2023 if the party does not reconcile aggrieved members says Lamido

The former Governor of Jigawa State Alhaji Sule Lamido has warned his party the Peoples Democratic Party to reconcile aggrieved members to unite as the imminent breakup of the ruling APC may not give it victory unless the members settle their differences amicably.
Lamido stated this at the inauguration of the Jigawa State People’s Democratic Party PDP reconciliation committee in Dutse.

He indicated that the party
Has its own problems adding that it is either they correct it or Nigerians would continue to suffer”

Lamido charged the members of the reconciliation committee to be just and fair in their approach to aggrieved members.

He appealed to aggrieved members to put the party before their interest, for the victory of the party.

“We must forget all our grievances, set aside all our personal interest for us to win because it’s only PDP that can be able to rule this country” he stated.
He said the days of the All Progressive Congress APC are numbered as President Muhammad Buhari will not support Bola Ahmad Tinubu’s candidature in the coming 2023 general.

He claimed that in the near future, there would be no more APC because the whole of APC is made of two people Buhari and Tinubu.

“True of the matter very soon there would be no APC in Nigeria because it’s made up of two persons Buhari and Tinubu”

“And I swear to God Buhari will not support Tinubu’s candidacy coming 2023 general election”

“So since they are the leaders of APC and they have issues everyone will find his way and that would be the end of APC in Nigeria”

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As his lasting legacy, Buhari will bequeat a flawless electoral system for Nigeria says Ohuabunwa

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As his lasting legacy, Buhari will bequeat a flawless electoral system for Nigeria says Ohuabunwa

Founder of Sam Ohuabunwa Foundation for Economic Empowerment, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa has said
President Muhammadu Buhari has no option but to leave a legacy that will put in place an electoral system that will guarantee free and fair processes in all future elections in Nigeria.
Speaking while he unveiled a political platform in Abuja on Wednesday- The New Nigeria Group in furtherance of his presidential ambition for 2023 Ohabuwa expressed the optimism that President Buhari would like to leave that legacy by signing the Electoral Reforms Bill being considered by the National Assembly into law.
However, he said his optimism is not a total trust in Buhari but based on what happened in the two most recent elections of Edo and Ondo States that were fairly seen to be free and transparent.
“I am not trusting in Buhari to do the electoral reforms, I don’t put my trust in any human being, because remember the Bible said how miserable for anybody that trusts in the arm of flesh.
“What I have said is that from what I have seen in the last two elections, I am not talking about electoral law or no electoral law. We don’t need any electoral law to conduct a free and fair elections, we don’t, it is for us to determine to have a free and fair election and this can happen in my favor and the favor of Nigeria.
“I said I can read the president’s body language, he is interested, I predicted this in Benin during the election that Obaseki’s election was going to be a part of the new Nigeria, I said so and it is on tape because I knew from what I saw there the election was generally free and fair.
“That of Ondo was almost the same thing, so I am seeing a trend and that trend will continue. Again Nigerians have become wiser, because they have been in this business for too long, they have been collecting money and they end up where they started.
“They have been pushed to do what they don’t want to do, vote for people they don’t believe in because of pecuniary considerations or stomach infrastructure and after that they are returned to penury.
“Nigerians are becoming enlightened and that is the job of the New Nigerian group to get more Nigerians understand that if we want to change the situation we must take our state in our hands vote the right candidate, protect the votes as they did in the two states of Edo and Ondo.
“I also believe the electoral act would be signed into law. What happened in 2018 is not the same, everybody that wants to leave office will like to leave a legacy. I trust that President Buhari will leave a legacy of bequeathing a free and fair election.”
It is good to allow the leadership of this country at least for once before
The NNG, according to the former Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO) of Pfizer/Neimeth, plans to mobilize like minded citizens to install enlightened, visionary and committed leadership in the country.
He said that the group is out to make the country a first world nation “where all the citizens live in harmony, are treated equally to achieve peace and prosperity for all.”
He listed the core values and guiding philosophy of the group to include knowledge, industry, integrity, patriotism, justice, freedom/liberty and godliness.
He noted that the four challenges facing the country which he hopes to tackle if voted into office as president include poverty, corruption, injustice and insecurity.
He insisted that solving the problem of poverty  would largely solve the problem of corruption while solution to injustice will help deal with insecurity.
He said he has been moving around the country to sell the vision of a new Nigeria where things will be done on merit and in the fear of God.
He said that the country must shift from a nation of importers and consumers to a haven of innovators and producers.
“We need to work hard and work smart to raise our productivity and be in a position to increase our gross national productivity in an effort to improve prosperity and drive down poverty,” he said.
He lamented that the country is divided due to misguided leadership.
“Every child born in this country should have equal chance with every other child to achieve his or her full potentials without discrimination as to his state of birth, ethnicity or religion,” he said.
He said that the group seeks courageous Nigerians that can stand up to their convictions.
He added that the NNG believes that the country has under performed as a result of lack of integrity in its leadership thereby fueling endemic corruption.
“The new Nigeria we seek must be birthed by a crop of Nigerians who are principled and with high moral and spiritual strength to stand up for what is right and righteous,” he said.
Ohuabunwa said that he is not in a hurry to pitch his tent with any of the existing political parties at the moment.
He said that the group would choose from any of the political parties available to actualise its presidential ambition when the times comes.

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When home coming is dangerous

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When homecoming is dangerous


Reviewing the Assassination of Ogacheko Atanu and a Warning to Nigerians in Diaspora on the State of Insecurity in Nigeria

By Frank Tietie

Ogacheko Atanu, an Idah born, world acclaimed and Saudi Arabia based drilling engineer was assassinated by unknown gunmen on Saturday, 9th of January, 2021 while holidaying in his country home in Idah, Kogi State of Nigeria. He was scheduled to travel back to Saudi on the morning of the next day before he was killed on that night in his hometown.

Ogacheko had such a brilliant career while he was at Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Nigeria. It was his sheer brilliance and distinction while at Shell that got him headhunted by Saudi Aramco, the world largest oil company based in Saudi Arabia, where he worked until his assassination in his house in his hometown of Idah.

Homecoming for Ogacheko has had a bad history. Some years ago, after he started work at Saudi Aramco, he decided to visit his hometown and in course of the journey, on his way to Idah, he had a terribly fatal car accident which broke his limbs. Saudi Aramco did not take chances regarding the treatment of one of its best executives. So the company flew a special air ambulance (a chartered plane equipped with specialised medical equipment) into Nigeria and evacuated Ogacheko for treatment in Saudi Arabia. That’s how valuable he was to the company. And it didn’t matter whether he was a Nigerian and a non-national of Saudi Arabia.

So why would Ogacheko choose to come to his hometown under the present circumstances and be brutally murdered in his country home in such a wicked manner? Reports say he was asked by the gunmen to say his last prayers and despite offering them so much money, probably in dollars, they shot at him several times and he died instantly. Why?

Shouldn’t Ogacheko have taken the state of affairs in local security seriously enough to stay away from Nigeria at this time? With his status, he had enough money to arrange armed private guards or special police protection but why didn’t he do that? He also had the means to obtain a licence to own guns with which he could have repelled the assassins or defended himself. Why would uneducated, barbaric, unskilled hoodlums just kill an expatriate of that repute just like that without any resistance? Ogacheko was helpless even in his hometown; he was murdered mercilessly in his country home. Why?

Some Nigerians in diaspora get so accustomed to their host countries which have secure environments that they underestimate the Nigerian security situation. These members of the diaspora should seek proper travel advisory before coming home for holidays and other purposes. But they are usually overconfident in their belief that Nigeria is their original country where they started. So they don’t feel so threatened as if things are not as bad as when they were once here. No! Things are no longer as they were. The security situation in Nigeria seems to be deteriorating by the day. Those of us who live here know the daily risks we face and we trust in God in unusual terms, everyday for our security. Why do you think many Nigerians say crazy prayers using terms like ‘fire and die’ and ‘Holy Ghost fire’?

The Nigerian government needs to do more to assure Nigerians in diaspora and indeed all Nigerians that there is enough security before certain travels can be made in our country.

In the meantime, all Nigerians in diaspora, especially the successful ones who are popular for their generosity, should weigh carefully all their travel plans to Nigeria. A direct advice is for them to stay away completely until the security situation improves or they should be prepared to learn and adopt the needed skills together with resources required to survive in Nigeria, in these precarious times of insecurity, whenever they visit.

Frank Tietie
Human Rights Lawyer
& Executive Director, Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER),
Writes from Abuja

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