FRIDAY Column by Engr. Abubakar A. Fari
You can’t be rich in politics unless you are a crook – Harry S Truman- Former US President
The third aspect of RESTRUCTURING would revolve around resource control. In addition, the problems and the conflicts arising from the environmental and the social impacts of infrastructural and developmental projects not only on the Fulani herdsmen but other groups like Gwari. So far, it would appear that our negotiators and power brokers from the core north called Hausa-Fulani are mere passengers in securing fair deals for their people. During the GEJ, despite the blind support by the so-called “Christian” middle belt for GEJ nothing of substance was recorded in their areas.
On mutually beneficial issues, it would also appear that the so-called north get short-changed in resource control and benefits accruable to the region when a southern President takes charge. In the “north” the commotions that the minorities as witnessed with Dimka, Okar, Mambilla, Kafanchan, Zangon Katab, Mambila and now the ANTI-OPENGRAZING BILL that the Benue and Taraba wish to “rustle” Fulani under a “law” that is unacceptable and laden as a time bomb to explode when it takes effect in November 2017 unless the Governors of North and Buhari arrest the apartheid.
The northern Muslim leaders are careless to ensure that in the Nigerian project, they bargain to the best interests of their people in all of its ramifications and implications. Most of their ruling class seem to be content with carrying bogus traditional titles and swimming in “baban riga” with no record of helping their people. If the “northern minorities and their southern brothers” according to Okar who promote prostitution and immoral business like alcoholic trade as well as selling indecent dresses that contribute to moral decay are asked to quit the core north, no one should complain. If today, the core north comes with legislation as the minorities have done “ANTI-OPEN GRAZING” to protect the moral and religious values of their people, why not?
Rather they would seem to tout the Sardauna, Aminu Kano, Ribadu and a host of the earlier patriots. However, there is a world of difference between Sardauna and his contemporaries in comparison to their self-centered successors. The Sardauna and his fellow compatriots had to travel long distances on horses and on foot to attend Katsina College. That in itself gave them a perspective and sort of endurance and the understanding of their people to face challenges against noise makers and mischievious elements. On the other hand, most of those technocrats who took over from Sardauna and co, invariably, behaved and still behave more like spoilt kids. They had free lunches and went to London and had easy life in school. They were more of secular Muslims who cared more for their wives and children and disconnected from home. Most chose to isolate themselves from home and rather enjoying the cozy European residences in the GRA in Kaduna. They were identified or still identified as ones “always in government”.
Following the massive receipts of petroleum dollars, development projects like roads, highways and building constructions started to manifest. The rapid urbarnisation started to displace communities and rural settlements. One of those that are severely affected remains the herdsmen. In Abuja that was made the new Federal capital these developments affected their lives in great measure. There are crooked and corrupt Nigerians moving from rags to riches that have stolen and looted thoughtlessly the national treasury only concerned with building structures. In addition, have acquired huge lands along highways that are unproductive and which remain obstacles to herdsmen and cattle roots. They remain aloof when genocide as in Mambila is committed and remain callous when the social and economic well being of their people are threatened. Even in Kaduna we are living witnesses to the fact that Fulani herdsmen that lived more than 100 years on their lands were displaced and technocrats that got money somehow have appropriated their lands. They neither buy or sale anything except to pad the budget and build residences that remain empty that the market cannot afford to rent.
The northerners including the minorities would appear as refugees in other states southern states. In the eastern region in particular it is not a tit for tat situation. They are denied land to compound the problems. Whereas the Ibos have moved in like occupation forces and dominating as if it were their ancestral lands. There would have been no problem, if they extend similar privileges to non-indigenes. As they say no condition is permanent. If they pursue these double standards, in the next 50 years, the bubble will burst. So if a “lion” share in the RESTRUCTURING must remain for them, those who they push “baboon” will not accept.
In 1966, I was admitted to Government College Keffi. There were 13 provinces with 10 from each which gave 130. My father lived in Ibadan then. We left Ibadan for Keffi on January 5th1966 during the month of Ramadan through Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa-Bida-Abuja-Keffi. By the grace of Allah, I was the only student in my class whose father had a 404 Peugeot station wagon then and could spare to take him to school. He had a Yoruba driver Jimma among his workers. The roads were rural and undeveloped. One could witness women and their children dressed in leaves carrying load to and from their homes. The Fulanis were well established with their cattle for pasture. The advocates of ranching from Benue and Taraba that we met in Keffi were extremely poor and could not afford 2 square meals at home. Most of their parents were rural farmers whose land yield was no more than50kg of maize or corn in a harvest.
Then Nigerian became stupendously rich from oil and hydrocarbons. The technocrats mainly from the south-west and Bendel who dominated the civil service made an early head start. The arrogant Ibo and as a result of ignorance of their worth miscalculated when they assassinated northern leaders in cold blood and were schemed out by the Yorubas and Bendel as technocrats in the civil service. They were out with the delusion called “Biafra” and the rest is now history. Although, they are now annoying people about “Biafra” instead of the Ibos to pack their bags and baggages peacefully in a mass exodus to “Biafra” one does not exactly what they want, except they are spoilt for a fight. The railways, airways, NEPA, among others, were rendered bankrupt and made comatose under the administration and control, largely by these “na my office I go chop technocrats”.
The dominant were the south-west. Even the Embassies in Lagos with all the foreign scholarships and grants the “Oduduwa” benefited over 80%. The whole of the north never secured 2% including “their brothers” in the middle belt according to coup gurus in the class of the Tiv Okar and his gangs. The Federal scholarships and those of the oil companies based in Lagos were in the Oduwa pocket in the Nigerianisation policy. The largely Oduwa were in charge of the conception and the implementation of development projects in highways, petrochemicals and refineries and virtually all in the federal ministries and Departments MDA under Gowon till Shagari. What quality of education they had then that they could not build and improve on the structures and developments made by the British colonialists, if they had any? Remember that frustrated late Governor Nbakwe shouted loud and lamented that why not the British colonial masters come back to Nigeria?
What is important is that for such huge projects on roads and highways, bridges, power, railways, refineries and petrochemicals, Environmental Impact and Social Impacts assessment are mandatory. The capital Abuja that displaced socially the Fulani herdsmen and the Gwaris and the high ways that impinge on Fulani herdsmen have created hardships, social dislocations, disaster and misery. The worst is to create a society that provides the vital protein supplements with no legal rights to pursue their legitimate living in peace. We should ask for these reports and the recommendations to mitigate these problems and see to it that they are implemented that some corrupt Nigerians ignored. Unfortunately their Fulani brothers from Adamawa, Taraba and the north-west zones remain careless.
The sad aspect of the none implementation of the EIA and Sociological impacts of roads and highways and other projects, that created displacements without consideration for the Fulani herdsmen by greedy Nigerians has created community conflicts deliberately. The finance minister during Gowon military administration was late Awo. Under him came the Indiginisation Decree that the Yoruba took the largest share and control. In 1988, despite Hamza Zayyad was Chairman Privatisation and Commercialisation, the Yorubas again took the “lion” share. In Abuja when they “rebelled” about the movement to Abuja, they realized that they had the “baboon” share. Under Obasanjo the sale of houses to civil servants was contrived for no other reason than to close the imbalance. FCT minister El-Rufai and “son of Baba Obasanjo” was placed in charge of the so-called monetization policy to assist the Yoruba acquire the houses since they had a large number in the service. As at today, I should like to believe that the Yoruba have cornered the “lion” share in the Nigerian project.
With respect to the on-shoe off-shore, again, the north was short-changed. The Governors, Senators, Federal House members allowed the National Assembly to vote consciously to surrender 13% of the share of the Federation Account to so-called “littoral states” naively to them. What is all the nonsense about devolution with respect to the reducing the share of Federal government to states and LGs. Why give up what you had in the first place despite the advise of Obasanjo the then President against it? We shall go into detail on DEVOLUTION. Even though other states agreed, it would appear to me the core northerners from where the proceeds of groundnuts, cotton and hides and skin were used to exploit oil are something else in the RESTRUCTURING process.