Grazing Bill, cowardly southern states and true federalism

Grazing Bill, cowardly southern states and true federalism

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 7:16 am

Fulani and their cattle

Fulani and their cattle

Igbonekwu Ogazimorah

Once, at a media conference in the year 2000, Bola Tinubu, then governor of Lagos said it. “There is nothing like true federalism. It is either a federalism or it is not. Saying true federalism is like the misnomer, ‘true truth”.
Same Tinubu waged the long drawn legal battle to wrestle the control of the Local government from the Federal Government. The principled fight was so intense and costly that in the entire life of the administration, Lagos was denied its statutory LG allocations. But Tinubu won, all the way to the Supreme Court.

When same Obasanjo wanted to set up a Probe Panel on the Jos Crisis, the indefatigable Gani Fawehinmi went to court and proved that the Federal Government had not such powers to set up such panels in a State duly certified as a Federating Unit in the Constitution.

Today, Federal Government’s EFCC is like a reigning suzerain over Nigeria as if we are still in a Unitary State. Funds and property recovered are kept and diverted by either the EFCC operatives or returned to the covers of the Federal Government. But the money and property returned ought to go back to rhe States.

Igbonekwu Ogazimora

Igbonekwu Ogazimora

When Yerima Bakura, Sani Ahmed, then Governor of Zamfara State, drove his state on the path of Sha’aria, he did not blush but stated that it was provided in the constitution to so return his state to its original form. I was among the first set of editors who went up to Gusau to interview Yerima.
“Sharia must be instituted in Zamfara,” he roared. It came to pass. Heavens did not fall.

Then Kano followed with Sha’aria and the Hisbah, Sha’aria enforcement police. Rights of others as guranteed in the constitution were simply, and rudely abridged. More States in the Far north have followed to establish the varying texture of Nigerian federalism, and they appear to have constitutional backing. Heavens did not fall.

Till date, no Southern State, with the exception of the courageous Tinubu, only on financial matters of the LG, had the courage to tell the Federal government that it must also act as a Federating Unit.

Now, they are about with a Grazing Rights Bills and the States are keeping quite. These States know that the Federal Government, which would run the Grazing Commission, has no land any where in Nigeria. At least by the Constitution of the Federal Republic. Those landw belong to the States and controlled by the State Governors.

So, why are the States waiting for this to happen? If the herders have become this menacing – they actually view other Nigerians as too soft and as soft-kills – why is it that no Southern State has deemed it proper to assemble its own security outfit, draw its grazing route bills and enforce them quite rigidly?
It is clearly evident that these herders and their enforcers have overpoowered the national defence and security services. Nigerians are now at the mercy of the herders, whoever they are.

From what I gathered on the recent Ukpabi-Nimbo, Uzo Uwani Local Government Area, in Enugu State, even the real Hausa Community is helpless. They believed they were talking to real herders, and they thought they had achieved a level of stability. Then this! Over 30 souls killed in cold blood! Police is helpless! The army is no where to be found!

Of course, I do not, for once, buy into the argument that Mr. Buhari is complicit. It is just unthinkable. But my fear is that the Federal Government knows what is happening, but for purposes of not further agitating the Nigerian population, especially in ways that would make them see every hereder as a potential terrorist, Government is refusing to tell the truth.

That truth is: Nigeria is under the attack of foreign invaders who disguise and embed with herdsmen. Their cover and secrecy of movement is perfectly maintained as long as they are in service of these herdsmen, who had long hungered for a semblance of control and ownership of green areas of Nigeria.
But let the Government get this point today. States standing up to this is like the last line of organised check. Next is self help, which invariably means chaos. Time is ticking, and fast too! President Buhari must just wake up.

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