One Ayn Rand tells the world in Atlas Shrugged, saying that “‘power-lust’ is a weed that grows only in the vacant lots of an abandoned mind.”
Rand might not have the loquacious Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha at heart, when that statement was made. But in earnest, the statement best captures what is happening in Imo today, where the once loved, respected, modeled, orator Rochas Okorocha has sullied his image because of “power-lust” in 2019, as if Imo State is a dramatic theater where fiction is entertained in the place of reality.
Okorocha prefers to be known for the much clatter he makes and controversial features he exhibits as governor rather than to be known as a statesman after his tenure, a trait that has shamed many people like this writer who loved Okorocha to a fault before and in 2007 he wanted to contest for the PDP chairmanship.
From his comments today, Okorocha still lives in the medieval feudalism. Imo State has become his land while the people, his labourers, who are bound to abide by his tyrannical overtures usually consisting arrogance and vulgarity.
Okorocha has shown much of his smuttiness to Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, given the interest the later has shown for the plume job of governor of Imo State come 2019.
While Araraume believes that the Imo electorate will deliver him, the talkative Okorocha believes Imo State is under dukedom where one family succeeds the duke after another.
What formed Okorocha’s statement in February this year that he has told all the contestants to start consulting but he will not support Araraume shows that Okorocha is a “proud, arrogant, vindictive, greedy and narrow-minded or clannish” person, some words he had the umpteenth time indirectly used to qualify the person of Araraume.
It is evidence that why the governor is hitting his head on the wall against Araraume’s aspiration is because he would not want Araraume to open the can of worms that he perhaps has canned as governor.
This is typified in the governor’s comment stating that he would not want, apart from Araraume, his immediate predecessor, Dr Ikedi Ohakim, re-elected. According to the ravenous Okorocha, “if Ohakim is re-elected, his mission would be for vengeance.”
It ought not to be in the hands of Okorocha to tell Ndi-Imo who they want to elect or re-elect as governor if he has nothing to fear after his tenure expires as governor in 2019. While Okorocha has said that he does not want the likes of Araraume, yet, while speaking with newsmen on February 5, he said that it was Imo people who should name “who his successor should be.”
In his words, “I want Imo people to name who they want as their governor in 2019, because I will not name any body, and that is why I have asked the aspirants to consult with the people; but, definitely, the likes of Araraume and Ohakim will not succeed me.”
However, few days latter that Okorocha made that comment like a man that cannot be trusted that he is, on February 12, at a meeting with members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Owerri Municipal Council Area, he named his Chief of Staff, Uche Nwosu, as his successor in 2019. Nwosu is also Okorocha’s son-in-law.
Apart from choosing his son in-law to succeed him, Okorocha’s affront on the Imo people that has shown he has failed before and on arriving 2019 was when he said that his choice for Nwosu was because of “the qualities of an ideal leader” that Nwosu has.
When it seemed to Okorocha that his son in-law was the only person in the entire Imo State with the ideals of leadership and when many Imo people were afraid to talk to Okorocha who apart from seeing Imo State as his fiefdom and overloads what happens even in the APC in the state, Araraume manifestly told him that no one owns Imo State or the APC in the state.
Okorocha who believes that his son in-law and him are the only people in Imo State that have leadership qualities, also has interest to run in the Imo West Senatorial District in 2019.
Well, given how richer Okorocha has become financially, many people from far think that Imo State population are wealthy. What they did not know is that Okorocha promised making Imo big, but the outcome is his ‘having it all to myself’ mentality he started showing as he became governor.
His new political trend to form a political dynasty is part and parcel of sheer greed which is no longer hidden in Okorocha’s political charades. He is obsessed with power, money and greed. If not, why would he have made a choice of the son in-law to go for governor while himself, to senate. This is a case of making the world to believe that greed is good.
On the other hand, it is obvious that Araraume, no matter what it will take him or cost him, wants to say that Okorocha’s judgment of 2019 is politically impaired by no other person but Araraume, because Okorocha has blinded Imo State with “power-lust” ambition.
Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet, Writer and Media Consultant based in Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
BEYOND RELIGION AND CULTURE: There is True Light and there is False Light. True Light is good while False Light is dangerous. You may not understand what I’ve written here if you are not who I AM. Many are on the False Light, on the wrong plane, and they pursue courses that soothe their ego, embellishing their ego with something that ignites the global trauma. Many people are modern than they look old, while few are ancient than they look young and are in the modern world. From today, start to cultivate, develop, and awaken, yourself no matter the terms, tradition or means you use. Do not forget to recite your mantras, do your meditation and prayer, rendering karmic selfless services and others. Your Chi (Energy or Holy Spirit) functions in tandem with the force of nature. The things of the spirit are not fanciful ideas. When we satisfy the causes, effects will result. And causes cannot be satisfied or effects result completely. This is the reason we must continue to do good and always hope that tommorrow will be better. The development of self in affinity with the cosmic laws leads to the True Light.
-Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet, Writer and Media Consultant.
“Balarabe Musa is one of Nigeria’s brightest stars of integrity and sterling principles. The octogenarian has lived to his reputation by avoiding any conduct associated with corruption and dishonour. Even Musa’s worst enemies and critics cannot dispute his remarkable reputation for integrity and selfless service to the people.” – Muhammadu Buhari
At 81, Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa who is regarded as a left-wing Nigerian politician, elected Governor of Kaduna State, during the Nigerian Second Republic, has remained an outspoken loyalist to the downtrodden, hapless and defocused Nigerians, who are enduring charlatanic governance under the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government of Nigeria. Musa who probably would not have owned a house of his own if not that he took a loan about 40 years ago of which he balanced recently, has spoken truth to the mendacious APC government.
Musa, the National Chairman of Peoples Redemption Party, PRP, with an undamaged acumen not always known of persons of his age, news has it that while speaking at the 54th National Executive Committee of the party in Kaduna on December 12 2017, had the following words for the retrogressed and aberration known as APC: “The economy remains comatose, and in some sectors, particularly in industry and commerce, it is even getting worse. Monetary and fiscal management have continued to lack coherence and consistency, or even predictability and strategic planning.
“Unemployment, particularly among the youths, who constitute the bulk of our population, has assumed critical proportions and is now, for all practical purposes, a national emergency. Yet, this APC administration, which rode to power on the back of false promises to this generation of hapless young men and women, seems to have no answers to this ticking time bomb beyond slogans such as N-Power.
“In the name of an anti-corruption campaign, the government has been consistently assaulting Due Process and the Rule of Law. Court orders are flagrantly disobeyed by the very institutions that should enforce them. Basic democratic rights are being cynically abused.
“While talking glibly about fighting corruption, the government shamelessly looks askance where corruption is exposed within its own very ranks, closets and cocoons. APC, both at the centre and the states it controls, has proved that it has little or nothing else to provide Nigerians other than further mass impoverishment, frustration and hardship.”
While the Major General Muhammadu-led APC government has shown that it lags the tenets of positive leadership in the points raised above by Musa but with a PhD in propaganda, you wonder what is then an impeachable offense that a president should commit before he is shown the exit door in the office. T
The governened are enduring untoward hardship as they are experiencing under the government of Buhari in the name of democracy.
Musa has shown that he is not and cannot be like the Senate leader, Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South), who on July 25 2016, said in an interview that Buhari cannot be impeached, because he has not been faithful to any impeachable offence. In the same month of that year, the Nigerian House of Representatives corroborated what the Senate had said through Ndume.
Chief Whip of the House, Alhassan Doguwa was the garrulous ‘speaker’ for the lower chamber. Whereas the Senate and House of Reps exonerated the president of impeachment, it is still fresh in our hearts that the DSS was unashamedly above board in its excesses in this government, Army, Police, Fulani herdsmen and Boko haram were also defiantly everywhere in this government.
Remember that the Nigerian Police was rated the worst in the world few weeks ago, according to World Internal Security and Police Index International, WISPI. But apart from the fact that Nigerians are roasting under Buhari and some persons were saying that he had not committed an impeachable offense, the retention of the (il)legal Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, upon the rejection of Magu by the Senate, had been said is one impeachable offense.
We should not even remember the brain behind Maina’s return. According to Reno Omokri, the author of Facts Versus Fiction: The True Story of the Jonathan Years: Chibok, 2015 and Other Conspiracies, “This is even as the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami had already revealed that he “acted in the public’s interest” in initiating the process for Maina’s return.” The $25 billion Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) fiddle which is regarded by opinion leaders as “the biggest scam ever in the history of Nigeria since 1914 to date” could also have been “in public interest”.
Omokri, about five months ago, said that the former President Goodluck Jonathan made mistakes, but Buhari is a mistake. Omokri is not far from the truth. Buhari is not just a mistake but a failure in governance that many of us shouted about during his emergence as APC’s presidential candidate in the 2015, that he will finally not prove critics wrong.
Taking to Twitter of the lies of the Buhari government, Omokri wrote that before the APC came into power, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, and currently the Federal Minister of Power, Works and Housing and was Lagos State Governor from May 29, 2007 to May 29, 2015, had in 2014 promised stable electricity, if only the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is voted out.
“However, he is now blaming Jonathan, for reducing electricity tariff. Buhari will do well moving @tundefashola from being in charge of generating power for Nigeria to being in charge of generating excuses for govt,” Omokri mocked them. “The main difference between GEJ/PDP and PMB/APC is that @GEJonathan made his mistakes as President while @MBuhari is a mistake as President. The major difference between the PDP and the APC is that whereas the PDP had some confirmed liars as members, the APC is itself a lie!”
Against that influence, Buhari spent the vital parts of his first year in office junketing around the world without a cabinet. Buhari stayed in the office without a cabinet knowing or unknowing that the different states depend on the Federation Account to survive. Buhari had a view that he was preparing for the best for the country, oblivious that his action was for the worse. Six months without a functional cabinet of ministers, ambassadors and so on, were enough to damage the country’s economy than just recession. And here we are!
However, speaking in an interview on April 2 2017, Senator Femi Okurounmu, regarded as a die-hard Awoist, said that the president might be impeached, on the appointment of the Magu, if he refuses to follow the constitution. In the words of Okurounmu, “There are two issues involved here. If the Senate rejects Magu and the president allows him to act, that is an impeachable offence. If our legislature is up to the task, if our lawmakers know their rights and they are men of honour, that is enough to impeach the president.”
Hmmm. Hardly is anyone talking on the hyper-kept secret of the health condition of Buhari since January 19 2017, we read then in the news that he sent a letter to the senate in respect of this. The senate did not see him, but saw the letter. Since then, Nigeria has been sick as their president is sick.
It is the odious of governments that Buhari is heading that pushed Musa to weep that at 81, he is not yet fulfilled, while fielding questions to journalists on October 27 2017. It is this type of nuisance called democracy under Buhari that made Musa to regret the 57 years of Independence from the rapacious British colonial masters. He said, “At 81, I will say I feel great and I thank God for everything. But, I am not completely fulfilled because we are yet to have the country of our dreams. We are yet to have a country where there is equity and respect for rights and dignity of all citizens. We are yet to have a country where the governed are good followers and leaders think first about the people and not the other way round. I desire a better Nigeria where everyone will feel the impact of governance that is my birthday wish for the country.’’
Nevertheless, when this government expires someday, the remaining of us who were not killed by the Buhari hunger policies would remember Balarabe Musa as a man who spoke truth to power, when some others chickened out. We would remember Musa that it was his un-daunting courage for the elements of integrity that made Buhari to describe him as a “man of unassailable integrity and untainted record of public service” in a tribute to Musa on the occasion of his 81st birthday anniversary this year.
If Buhari apologists think they can keep the health of the president a secret, they cannot keep the fact that Nigerians are hungry under Buhari a secret; they cannot keep the killing and marauding Fulani herdsmen a secret, and many other deliberate abuses here and there under the Buhari-led APC government. These are the hardships being offered to Nigerians by the APC government, which Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa was not happy about.
Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet, Writer and Media Consultant based in Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855. Email: email@example.com
In this report, Odimegwu Onwumere unearths that the utilisation of the local content in the oil and gas sector is still a tall dream since the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act was enacted in 2010; and $380b dollars or more have been lost in 50 years in the industry, upon the billions of dollars also being pumped in, to sustain the scheme
Stakeholders in the oil and gas sector and the federal government have been gasping for breath to fashion out a lasting plan for the utilisation of the local content in the sector since the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act was enacted in 2010. This socio-economic term, which is as old as man, has had setbacks in several occasions in the country with companies and the authorities pumping in money into the initiative that is habitually never accomplished. The incessant hope given by opinion leaders pointing out that by making use of local content, about $191 billion could be maintained, while 300,000 new nonstop job opportunities were green in such areas as engineering, sciences, technical services and manufacturing of the oil and gas sector, might have been dashed by the oil companies and Nigerian authorities.
The “exploration, production, manufacturing, fabrication, procurement and allied services sectors of the oil business” which were the canons for the implementation of local content in the oil and gas sector are not being realised with the attendant results they deserve. Most times, while the stakeholders push to accomplish the “value added in local oil industries”, they make loss upon creating proposed chances and heartening indigenous oil companies to vigorously take part in maximizing local content.
Investigation by this writer has revealed that the local content, which was supposed to be a win-win affair, has been laced with controversies by the different stakeholders; hence there is a gap in promoting alliance amid “national oil companies, local companies and international organization.” The local content initiative is still struggling to be all inclusive, because there is drought of enabling environment for business, therefore leading to un-optimized moves to carry out Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by the companies involved and not insuring utmost earnings for all.
Billions Of Dollars On Local Content
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), defines local content in the oil and gas company as “The quantum of composite value added or created in the Nigerian economy through the utilization of Nigerian human and material resources for the provision of goods and services to the petroleum industry within acceptable quality, health, safety and environment standards in order to stimulate the development of indigenous capabilities.”
To realise this, experts have said that the government of Nigeria made mammoth venture up to $10 billion USD yearly to achieve 70% local content goal by the end of 2010 in the oil and gas sector. But as spectators have seen, the aim was defeated.
However, just on October 16, 2017, Vice Chairman/ Managing Director of Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), Mr. Massimo Insulla, while speaking during this year’s Nigerian Content Activities, hosted by Eni in Yenagoa, disclosed that the company spent over $5.4 billion in making sure that the Nigerian content gets to the peak in the last six years.
This is even as Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) said it spent $2.5 billion on local content development in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector, “representing 65 per cent of the total Nigerian goods and services expenditures for the year.”
According to Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Chevron, John Watson, “We do so through partnerships with national and local governments, national oil companies, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), and development agencies.”
Upon Companies Boast Of Expending Billion Dollars
Meanwhile, the Federal Government by August 24, 2017, had geared up to launch $200m (about N61bn at the official exchange rate of N305 to a dollar) local content interference fund. This was apart from its unyielding billions of dollars expended yearly to end local content quagmire by the end of 2010 that never came to light.
According to the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the novel move was “in pursuant of the Business Environment and Investment Drive Component of the #7BIGWINS, known as a document of the ministry that focuses on the short and medium-term priorities targeted at growing the nation’s oil and gas industry between 2015 and 2019.”
But on the contrary, the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) might not be certain with its compass’s navigation on the local content. On September 25 2017, in Lagos, the NCDMB said that it was looking up that the Nigerian Content Intervention (NCI) fund would hit $1 billion in the next three years. It could be sensed that the NCDMB was using permutation in carrying out its national duty than it was using betting. This is even as it had said through its Executive Secretary, Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote at a public hearing conducted by the Joint Senate Committee on Petroleum Upstream and Gas in Abuja on July 26 2017 that it intended to establish a Local Content Bank of Nigeria.
While the NCDMB might not be certain with accountability of the funds to the tone of trillions of naira dished out for various projects over the years, media reports affirmed, “The bank when set up will focus on establishment of facilities for domiciliation of services with emphasis on the optimal use of local resource inputs.”
Buttressing this, Wabote in December 2016, (during a media dialogue on his plans to make these companies to meet the terms with the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act 2010 by making a payment to the Fund) gave an insight that some companies do not remit their one per cent contributions to the Nigerian Content Intervention (NCI) Fund.
Explaining, those who know better said, “The NCI Fund is a pool made available by the NCDMB to meet the funding needs of manufacturers, service providers and other key players in the Nigerian oil and gas industry. It was however, gathered that some upstream companies do not contribute to the NCI Fund at all.”
Meanwhile, this is contrary to a July 27 2017 report, stating, “On the Nigerian Content Development Fund (NCDF), the Executive Secretary reported that international oil companies comply reasonably in remitting one percent of the value of their contracts but some service companies and indigenous operating firms default in their payment.”
$380bn Lost In Oil/Gas Sector Due To Lack Of Local Content
While Nigeria was boasting of the billions of dollars she had expended in boosting local content in the oil and gas sector, by September 2017, while speaking at an oil and gas forum held in Accra, Ghana, Wabote disclosed that a whooping sum of $380b dollars or more have been lost in 50 years in oil and gas industry in the country.
“This capital flight is due to the absence of regulation on local content development in the oil and gas industry,” said the source.
However, Wabote added, saying, “Local content development in Nigeria has brought about the domiciliation and domestication of value addition in the oil sector, culminating in 26 percent in-country value retention compared to the five percent prior to the enactment of the Local Content Act in 2010.”
While this lasted, at the opening of the sixth Practical Nigerian Content Conference, in Abuja, in September 2016, to enlarge implementation of the local content policy to the midstream and downstream of the oil and gas sector, Wabote had explained that “a blueprint would soon be unveiled to attract the needed investment to the sector. And besides the creation of industrial parks for the sector, the NCDMB is also working towards the establishment of three pipe mills across the country.”
100% Local Fabrication Of Modular Refineries
At the same time, Nigeria can be seen is confused on how to go about her local content, whereas in 1962 when Norway’s offshore oil industry took off, the country recorded a huge growth in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and by 1965, the Norwegian Petroleum Law was enshrined and by 1972, the local content law was enacted in Article 54 of the Royal Decree of 1972.
According to reports, “The Royal Decree of 1972 mandated that Norwegian government should vigorously pursue the goal of insuring that Norwegian goods and services be given preference in the running of the oil and gas industry, provided they were competitive in terms of price, quality, schedule and service.” But since the 50s oil was explored in Nigeria at Oloibiri, a small community in Ogbia LGA located in Bayelsa State, Nigeria was by August 24, 2017 ‘still’ initiating plans to achieve 100 per cent local fabrication and this is especially of modular refineries in Nigeria.
A discussion with the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM), the federal government was also not certain when to achieve a lasting use of local content in the oil and gas sector. Just as it has been pumping billions of dollars in order to realise the local content by the end of 2010, the federal government through the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu was not certain when the deadline for the local fabrication of oil vessels and Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading vessels (FPSO), would berth. This is even as “the Bank of Industry said the newly launched $200 million intervention fund could be used for contract financing and loan refinancing for oil companies.”
According to the media, “Speaking at the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signing ceremony on the implementation of the $200 million Nigerian Content Intervention Fund (NCIF), between BoI and the Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Kachikwu said Nigeria would not continue to award contracts, but set deadlines on when to localise most of the vessels and projects in the country.”
Senate Uncertain With Local Content Implementation In Oil Industry
While the Malaysian oil industry began in the 1950s and objectives set for Malaysia’s oil and gas policy, which was to “maximise local benefits through the development of local capabilities and industrial base to support the growing onshore and offshore oil and gas industry”, Nigeria was thus far probing the local content implementation in the oil and gas industry in the country by July 18 2017.
The Red Chambers at the National Assembly was afraid that investors were not considering Nigerian companies while investing, hence the senate referred the investors to Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act, which states inter alia: “Investors were mandated to consider Nigerian companies as an important element in their project development and management.”
According to news reports, “The Senate Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) and Gas Resources has commenced investigation into the implementation of local content in the oil and gas industry in the country.
“Opening the session of an investigative hearing on the issue on Tuesday in Abuja, President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, who was represented by the Leader of the Senate, Sen. Ahmed Lawan, said the National Assembly was concerned with the level of implementation of local content in Nigeria.”
It is expected that the stakeholders in the oil and gas sector will get the local content right this time with Wabote saying recently that NCDMB was presently putting into practice a 10-year tactical roadmap fastened on transporting five pillars of sustainable local content, with an intention of attaining 70 per cent of local content in the next 10 years.
Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet, Writer and Media Consultant based in Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Farmers and Fulani herdsmen crises linger as a chief problem to the development of agriculture among local farmers in Nigeria. Odimegwu Onwumere uncovers that as a result of this, hundreds of thousands of lives, billions of Naira worth of property and farm produce are lost to the clashes, and the authorities seem not stoical in applying lasting restrictive measures against the nuisance
“When we talk to the Fulani herdsmen over the gratuitous destruction of our crops by their cows, they would point guns and arrows at us. And this is why we hardly question them in our farms, because we do not want to die.”
Those were the words of Mrs. Nkechinyere Nwosu, the wife of the Ekwu I of Umuekwune-Ohoro, Igbo-Etche, Etche Local Government Area (LGA) of Rivers State, while leading the women of the community in a peaceful protest recently, to the palace of the monarch to register their plight in the hands of Fulani herdsmen and correspondingly call on Governor Nyesom Wike of the State, not to tarry in saving them and their crops.
Known as nomads from the northern part of Nigeria traversing towns and villages in the southern part of the county with their cattle for the purpose of grazing, some school of thoughts were of the scrutiny that the Fulani herdsmen resorted to violence, when rustlers started making a career of rustling their cows. Investigations by this writer, conversely, showed that the incessant reports by the herdsmen to the authorities in the hands of rustlers, which were attended to with wave of the back hand, pushed them to be carrying arms, not minding that illegal possession of arms is outlawed in Nigeria.
According to a source that would prefer to remain anonymous, “The herdsmen have reportedly encountered cattle rustlers as they move from place to place and made complaints to the relevant authorities who fail to investigate the issue, hence their purported reason for carrying arms about.”
The source further tinted, “During their journey, they frequently trespass farmlands owned by locals in their host communities, destroying crops and valuables. Attempts by farmers to prevent them from causing havoc are met with stiff and violent resistance.
“Most times, the farmers are overpowered, injured and killed, while others are evicted from their homes. Sometimes, the herdsmen are accused of taking these opportunities to steal, rape, raze houses and kill innocent members of the communities they pass through.”
Against this backdrop, a former Military Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, at a forum organised by Search for Common Ground, Nigeria, in collaboration with Abdulsalami Abubakar Institute for Peace and Sustainable Development on October 30, 2017, said that Nigeria loses 13.7 billion dollars annually as a result of farmers-herdsmen conflicts in Benue, Kaduna, Nassarawa and Plateau States.
Farmers And Their Ordeals
While some women and men farmers who have encountered Fulani herdsmen in Igbo-Etche have stories of alleged rape, killing, destruction of their crops meted out to them to tell, the senator representing Nasarawa West Constituency in the National Assembly, Senator Abdullahi Adamu equally noted in a public presentation, saying that disputes between famers and herdsmen typically arise from disagreement over the use of possessions such as farmland, grazing areas and water.
A former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Olu Falae experienced this “disagreement over the use of possessions” when he was abducted by some Fulani herdsmen during his 77th Birthday on September 21, 2015, at his Ilado farm in Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State. Sources said that until the conviction of the abductors in April 2017 in the persons of Abubakar Auta, Bello Jannu, Umaru Ibrahim, Masahudu Muhammed, Idris Lawal and two others, Falae was released after paying N5m ransom four days after his abduction. Farmers in Igbo-Etche nonetheless believe that the herdsmen have ulterior motive, because they prefer their cows feeding on crops than grass. This, however, has led to incessant complaints by the villagers.
Cry Of Farmers Across The Country
Across the country, farmers have been lamenting the deadly stumbles-upon with Fulani herdsmen in their farms. Many of the farmers weep about the sorrowful attacks the Fulani herdsmen have made as a career against them.
For example, in Ogun and Oyo communities, especially in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State, there has been heightened tension for over 12 years, when herdsmen numbering nearly one thousand started using the Eggua boundary every December to April for grazing.
In most cases, the herdsmen authoritatively venture into homes of their host communities and open the barns to feed the cows with maize, yam, cassava and others found in the barns. Like the women of Igbo-Etche, if the inhabitants of Ogun and Oyo communities ask questions, the herdsmen would pull out their guns and cause troubles.
School Farms Not Left Out
Then-again, just in September 2017, the Vice Chancellor, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Ondo State, Prof. Igbekele Ajibefun lamented what he described as illegal moves by the Fulani herdsmen in grazing their cattle in the institution’s farm sites.
Ajibefun disclosed this while speaking at a security forum organized by the “Ondo State Police Command to interact with stakeholders including security agencies, heads of institutions, royal fathers, religious leaders, artisans, students, farmers, cattle rearers, hunters and other concerned persons and groups, in Akoko South West Local Government area of the State.”
In his words, “We are aware that the issue of security is very complex. And because we don’t want to make it more complex, we have been trying to manage our experience with Fulani herdsmen each time they intrude on our campus.
“It is a very bad situation the way they invade our farm and destroy the place. I would like to appeal to our security agencies to come to the aid of the university by finding a lasting solution to the problem.”
Heads Roll For Cows To Feed
Reason for this is not farfetched: In some views, the Fulani herdsmen when interviewed have said that they’d no option than making sure that their cows feed.
The outcome of this is in the statistics provided by the Institute for Economics and Peace, saying, “1,229 people were killed in 2014, up from 63 in 2013 and Benue State seems to be the hardest hit in the farmers and Fulani herdsmen conflicts in recent times.
“Barely five days to the end of Governor Gabriel Suswam’s administration in May 2015, over 100 farmers and their family members were reportedly massacred in villages and refugee camps located in the Ukura, Per, Gafa and Tse-Gusa local government areas of the state.”
It was further noted that in July 2015, “Suspected herdsmen attacked Adeke, a community on the outskirts of the state capital, Makurdi. Last December, six persons were killed at Idele village in the Oju local government area. A reprisal attack by youths in the community saw three Fulani herdsmen killed and beheaded.”
Counting Of Damages Continues
In some localities like Asa, Agon-Ojodun, Ayetoro, Ogunpa, Kodera and Igbonla, the locals said that they have been sacked in many occasions by the herdsmen when they resisted them feeding their cows with their farm produce.
From Ayete, a lethargic town in Ibarapa North Local Government Area, Oyo State, to the 10 local government areas in Oke-Ogun, the story is the same. In many occasions, the authorities’ interventions have yielded little or no result.
The House of Representatives had encouraged all stakeholders to an open hearing in order to tackle what it once illustrated as “incessant clashes between herdsmen, farmers and their host communities’’.
However, explorations revealed that just in February 2016, “40 more people were killed (as a result of a clash between herdsmen and farmers in Benue State); about 2,000 were displaced and not less than 100 were seriously injured.”
The source added, “Most recently, more than 92 Nigerians were massacred by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Benue and Niger states. Also, before this time, there have been reported attacks by the Fulani Herdsmen in southern states of the country, including Enugu, Ekiti and Ondo States.”
Calling Herdsmen To Leave
There is a belief that some farmers in some communities across the country have said that they do not want the herdsmen in their communities. This, though, has generated some rebuttals suggesting that since every Nigerian has a right to reside in any part of the country without prejudice, the call against Fulani herdsmen is uncalled for.
According to a source that would not want the name mentioned, “The solution is not for the herdsmen to leave the communities. There are a lot of political intrigues attached to the development and some people create mischief out of it.”
The source enthused that some elements want to create an impression that the clashes between herdsmen and farmers are prevalent in the present administration forgetting that from time immemorial, before democracy, herdsmen and farmers have been fighting.
Among All Odds
Some communities and their traditional rulers are not sleeping on their oars in making sure that agriculture is boosted in the country, no matter the over $13.7b that have been reported lost to farmers and herdsmen conflicts yearly.
The Otaru of Auchi, Alhaji Aliru H. Momoh, Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo, even with the fears of farmers and herdsmen clashes, braced up on Sunday, June 18 2017, to advise all the 25 village heads in the kingdom to influence their wards, to embrace farming. In the highlight of this, Momoh motivated that his traditional council had donated 5,000 hectares of land: Being their support to the federal government agricultural project, in order to revolutionise agriculture.
According to the monarch, “We have allocated some hectares of land to the Federal Government for the planting of cashew, cassava, maize and groundnut, and we are expecting them to come and inspect the land.’’
Checks revealed that over 200 women have been encouraged in Auchi to go back to agriculture in the tone of N5 million. According to Momoh, “Because of the Fulani herdsmen issue, we gave out some money to farmers to ease them of the threat of Fulani herdsmen who threaten them in the farm.”
In making sure that the stalemate between farmers and herdsmen are resolved across the country, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Audu Ogbeh had assured that some States, which included Plateau, Kaduna, Kano, Gombe, Katsina, Taraba, Niger, Adamawa, Jigawa, Sokoto and the FCT, among others, had provided hectares of land for the business of ranches to control clashes between farmers and herdsmen in their States.
According to the Honourable Minister, “The way forward is to strive to attain self-sufficiency in animal protein by checking constant exposure of our cows to long distance trekking in search of pasture which affects their productivity.
“This administration has therefore set out to establish ranches to be planted with high quality improved tropical grass and legume species. We shall provide irrigation for all year commercial fodder production to enhance settlement of pastoralist and ensure cattle, sheep and goat improvement through an expanded breeding programme that would use artificial insemination.’’
But Dr Mohammed Ahmed, a former Chief Executive Officer of the National Veterinary Research Institute, Vom, Plateau, was afraid that a typical Fulani herdsman wouldn’t accept the initiative.
According to him, “Ranches are capital intensive; government must ensure that there is enough water and all-year-round grass for grazing. The herdsmen must also be encouraged to cut grass in the rainy season and store same for use during the dry season in addition to being educated on how to manage limited space.
“I am not sure that the typical Fulani man in Nigeria will happily embrace a ranch, but with the current realities, settling them in one place is the best way out, especially if they can have what they want where they are settled.’’
While government has taken a move for ranches, Alhaji Sale Bayeri, the spokesman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in Plateau, the sunshade body of the Fulani herdsmen, said, “The herdsmen will not accept ranches; we shall prefer to explore our traditional grazing routes/reserves.”
That was contained in a media chat last year with MACBAN’s National Legal Adviser, Mohammed Bello Tukur, saying, “stakeholders should rather demarcate routes and cattle resting points with support from technical and financial partners.”
According to the source, “MACBAN rejects the setting up of ranches and supports the establishment of grazing reserves; we want government to create a ministry of livestock development to ease the establishment of the reserves.’’
Local Farmers Must Be Included In Ranches
Some farmers nevertheless said that if government wants the scheme to succeed, local farmers must be included.
In the views of Sen. Jerry Useini representing Plateau South, “We just woke up and heard that cattle ranches will be established in parts of Plateau. Such decision cannot be popular because no one was consulted and neither was any wide enlightenment carried out.’’
This was even as Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau said, “No human policy or plan can be perfect, but we want those with reservations about the ranches to suggest something better. It is not enough to just oppose what is being worked out since what we are doing is in the interest of peace.’’
According to Mr. Timothy Golu representing Pankshin/Kanke/Kanam in the House of Representatives, “Ranches are far better than grazing reserves if we are to check incessant clashes between farmers and herdsmen, but we must be able to listen to what the ordinary farmers feel about what is being worked out.
“We must carry the farmers and traditional rulers along in carving out the affected areas. We must carefully work out and ensure payment of compensations; otherwise we shall only be breeding another recipe for even worse crises.”
Against this influence, the Minister of Interior, retired Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau was of the view that herdsmen and farmers’ gridlocks are a threat to national peace.
According to him, “The effect of this conflict has been loss of life, dislocation of people and communities and the disruption of socio economic activity. Even more importantly, it is a threat to the integrity and peaceful co-existence of the Nigerian state. The objective, therefore, is to identify any laws and regulations that impact on the conflict; this will in turn inform the design of a definitive policy intervention.”
On the contrary, the authorities have done little or nothing to arrest the farmers and herdsmen standoffs. Once more, the standoffs have infused fears into the women and men farmers in the areas to attend to their farms, thereby causing a setback to their agricultural productivities. This is due to unyielding peace agreements that some states have signed in respect to farmers and Fulani herdsmen conflicts. There’re also the rejected cattle ranches proposed by the Major General Muhammadu Buhari government.
However, for Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue, “The ranches remain the generally acceptable practice and will serve as the permanent solution to the unending clashes between the herdsmen and farmers.’’
At the maiden edition of the West Africa Media Excellence Awards held on Saturday night, October 28 2017, at the Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel, Accra, Ghana, your dogged and multiple award-winning journalist Odimegwu Onwumere emerged finalist with his article published in The Nigerian Voice, Nigeria.
Onwumere emerged finalist in the Anti-Corruption Reporting Category. According to a statement issued by a three member judges of the awards in the persons of Ms. Sophie Ly who is an experienced Senegalese journalist, media trainer and media development expert; Mr. Lanre Idowu who is an accomplished and highly respected Nigerian journalist, editor, author, publisher, media owner and trainer; and Ms. Elizabeth Ohene who is a veteran Ghanaian journalist, over 400 published stories that were sent in by journalists from 12 countries across West Africa, 15 journalists made the finalists from six categories.
Conversely, in the well competed awards, Jesusegun Alagbe of The Punch, Nigeria, won in the Anti-Corruption Reporting Category. But Onwumere was elated that his name was not among those who entered for the awards but were not finalists, adding that having made a finalist showed that he is doing better in his chosen career than the poor leaders in Nigeria.
He added that objective journalism pays better than an oppressive government anywhere in the world, especially such that Nigerians have come to endure in the recent times in the name of democracy.
Onwumere said that objective journalism is hated by oppressive leaders but journalists inclined in objectivity in their reportages would stop at nothing to expose the highhandedness of the looting leaders and keep in touch with the different communities of their ill behaviours.
He, therefore, called on moneybags and the authorities to help journalism and journalists in this clime by pumping in money to sustain them. He, nonetheless, thanked those who have helped in one way or the other in making him the renowned journalist he has become today.