By Sonnie Ekwowusi
Make no mistake about it, the latest resolve of the federating units to collect VAT within their respective units and use the revenue generated therefrom solely for the development of their units as well as enact anti-open grazing laws in order to protect the lives and property of their citizens are indicative of the direction Nigeria is irreversibly, inexorably and irresistibly headed-restructuring so as to create greater regional autonomy and weak centre. The power of the Federal Government under the 1999 Constitution to keep custody and determine the terms and manner of the revenue and allocation of the funds that accrue to the Federation Account to the detriment of the federating units is, to say the least, an unconscionable socio-economic and political injustice. Considering the new self-determinist wave blowing across the different States of the Federation at the moment, I wager that in no distant future all these unproductive parasites idling away in different government offices in Abuja and waiting for monthly allocation and free money will be going hungry for lack of free money. It is a case of Monkey dey work baboon dey chop otherwise how can you rationalize the fact that idle parasites are constantly feeding fat from the revenue generated and wealth created by the federating units?. Happily, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has woken up other State Governors from their slumbers to reality. This is why these State Governors are now enacting the VAT laws in their respective States in order to utilize the revenues accruing therefrom for the socio- economic and cultural development of their respective regions. Lagos State enacted theirs last penultimate week. It is not unlikely that more States will follow suit.
Additionally, the State governments are enacting their respective anti-open grazing laws in order to get rid of the nuisance of the Fulani herdsmen attacks and killers. Penultimate week I listened to the arguments of the Miyetti Allah chieftains on why the anti-open grazing laws are satanic and therefore should be brought out and quashed. According to the said chieftains, the anti-open grazing laws will work untold hardship and injustice on the Fulani cattle herders and Fulani pastoralists; that the State Governors should learn to accommodate their Fulani herdsmen brothers; that the anti-open grazing laws would send the Fulani herdsmen and millions of people who depend on the livestock value chain into poverty; that the anti-open grazing laws will threaten the social order and undermine the relative peace and stability enjoyed between farmers and Fulani pastoralists in local communities.
The above arguments, with the greatest respect, are bunkum. They are myopic, unintelligible and gutter arguments and therefore should be ignored by the State Governors. It is a paradox that the Miyetti Allah chieftains are complaining that untold hardship and injustice are being visited on the Fulani herdsmen when in fact it is the herdsmen who are terrorizing innocent local farmers, destroying their crops and farm lands, forcefully dispossessing them of their farmlands and occupying same, raping, maiming and murdering the citizens in their thousands?. Do these chieftains truly understand the meaning of the notion of justice? Do they think that we are fools or what?. Who or what can be adjudged as satanic, Miyetti Allah or anti-open grazing laws?. It is obvious that these chieftains are not reasoning properly otherwise they would not have glossed over the atrocities and crimes being committed by the Fulani herdsmen across Nigeria in demanding for their so-called open grazing right? Is Miyetti Allah not aware that the anti-open grazing laws are the fallout of the atrocities and crimes being committed by the Fulani herdsmen?
Anyway I don’t blame Miyetti Allah for challenging the State Governors. Why won’t they try to wrestle down the State Governors when Mr. President is solidly behind them?. The reader knows very well that the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, founded in 1970 with the primary objective of promoting the welfare of Fulani pastoralists in Nigeria, has been acting as a parallel or alternative government under the Buhari government. To begin with, the Miyetti Allah is above the law of the land. It meddles in the affairs of government. In fact, the Miyetti Allah is such a powerful alternative government that it can call for the resignation of an elected public office holder. Read again the excerpt of the ultimatum issued by Miyetti Allah to the then Senate President Saraki, “We are tired of Saraki’s style of leadership at the National Assembly. Therefore, we are now warning him to honourably resign his position as President of the Senate or we will force him out.”. Similarly in the aftermath of the killing of about 200 Nigerians on the Plateau State, the Miyetti Allah quicky issued a statement accepting responsibility for the killings. The worst was that instead of regretting that they had wasted many precious human lives on the Plateau, the Miyetti Allah regretted that they had lost about 300 cows. Which means that cow lives are more valuable to Miyetti Allah than human lives. According to Chairman of the North Central zone of Miyetti Allah Danladi Ciroma, “These attacks are retaliatory…“We lost 300 cows, no one should expect peace in Plateau…” .
To date, the Miyetti Allah still thirsts for human blood. It has continued to utter statements that clearly verge on treason and treasonable felony. It rejects ranching. It has warned that no State in Nigeria has a right to enact anti-open grazing law. It issues threats and ultimatums. Yet the Miyetti Allah is neither proscribed nor prosecuted as a terrorist organization. Instead of proscribing or prosecuting the Miyetti Allah, President Buhari is openly supporting them. Despite murdering many Nigerians the Fulani herdsmen are still moving around freely in Nigeria aided and abetted by our security operatives. Instead of raising such an alarm that the Fulani herdsmen are committing crimes across Nigeria, President Buhari prefers to be raising an alarm that the Fulani herdsmen criminals are not being protected or granted “grazing right” by the State Governors. Do Mr. President and Miyetti Allah understand that right, in the words of the late Supreme Court Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, is not a one-way traffic? Right is reciprocal. Right is intertwined with and conditioned by duties. For example, the “right” of Fulani herdsmen to be freely going about and killing their fellow citizens stops where the right to life of their fellow citizens begins. Besides, what is good for the goose is equally good for the gander. If Mr. President and Miyetti Allah are raising an alarm that the Fulani herdsmen are denied open grazing right, why are they not equally raising an alarm that the same Fulani herdsmen are killing, maiming and raping Nigerian citizens? It is worrisome that Mr. President and Miyetti Allah are yet to understand that by virtue of the Land Use Act all the lands in the various Nigerian States are exclusively vested in the various State Governors (not in the Presidency or Fulani herdsmen) who are at liberty to grant or convey or assign same to any applicant for his use.
Anyway, the State Governors are unyielding and unbending in their resolve to enact and enforce the anti-open grazing laws to the letter. No amount of cajole, cheap blackmail or open or veiled intimidation can deter them from this resolve. Under our presidential democracy governed by the principle of separation of power and all that, neither President Buhari nor Miyetti kingpins can dictate to our elected State Governors and State legislators the way and manner of enacting their laws. The State Governors and State legislators are primarily accountable to the citizens of their respective States not to President Buhari or Miyetti Allah. State laws are enacted in consonance with the wishes and aspirations of the peoples of the respective States not the wishes of Miyetti Allah. Therefore if the State legislators, after due and proper consultation with the stakeholders and people of their respective States, have resolved to enact the anti-open grazing laws in order to protect the lives and property of the citizens of their respective States, President Buhari and Miyetti Allah have no right to interrogate them for doing that.