Editorial: AUDU OGBEH AND HIS CATTLEMEN

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Audu Ogbe has tried to prove skeptics who felt he is too old to serve as a Minister of the Federal Republic wrong. Since his appointment, he has demonstrated a capacity for hard work. Hardly a day goes by without him featuring prominently in the news.

Last week, he told a public meeting in Kano that the Federal Government plans to train 3,000 Peace Corps members to ‎protect herdsmen from cattle rustlers. At the time he was making this statement evidently aimed at pleasing his target audience – the pastoralists in Kano – his home state of Benue was under a blistering attack by the death squad also known as Fulani herdsmen.

Heavily armed herdsmen invaded Buruku Local Government of Benue state and murdered men, women and children in cold blood. The audacity of the unprovoked attack and the bestiality of their medieval style of slaughtering defenseless human beings shocked the whole civilized world; except the world of Audu Ogbeh. If Audu Ogbe was shocked by this unprovoked act of terrorism, he would have been more circumspect in choosing the time and place he did to announce the grand plan by his employer, President Buhari to provide protection for Fulani herdsmen.

When Buhari goes out of his way to provide security for the Fulani herdsmen who have become a national menace, we understand why he does so. The typical, time worn Nigerian adage says that ‘blood is thicker than water.’ Naturally, Buhari believes he owes his kinsmen protection.

Last year when the Fulani herdsmen wreaked havoc on Audu Ogbeh’s tribesmen in Agatu, Buhari wore his military uniform and took off – not to defend the poor victims of Agatu massacre but – to protect the herdsmen who felt cheated by the activities of cattle rustlers in Zamfara.

The 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended provides that each of the 36 states must have a Minister in the Federal Cabinet. We at the NATIONAL ACCORD suspect that the aim of the framers of the Constitution was to ensure that each Minister so appointed would try to protect the interest of his state. We are at a loss as to whose interest Audu Ogbh is representing in the Federal Cabinet. Is it Katsina, where the President hails from; Zamfara where the President launched a special military operation against cattle rustlers or Kano where he announced the Federal Governments grand design to protect herdsmen at the time they were overrunning  Benue, Enugu, Delta, Taraba, Plateau, Abia and other states in the southern part of Nigeria?

In Benue state itself, the State Governor Samuel Ortom was so outraged by the barbarity of the Fulani massacre in Buruku that he ordered all herdsmen to leave the state. He was immediately countered by the States Commissioner of Police, Mallam Bashir Makama who argued that the Constitution of the Federal Republic grants freedom of movement to all Nigerian citizens. He did not tell us which section of the Constitution grants Fulani herdsmen the right to overrun farm lands of sedentary farmers and also kill them abundantly.

Benue is popularly known as the food basket of Nigeria. This status has not been achieved by cattle grazing but by tilling the soil, a vocation for which the Benue rural populace has distinguished itself. The attempt to uproot this sedentary farming population by the Federal Government and supplant it with a cattle grazing one looks strange to us.

We at the NATIONAL ACCORD are even more surprised that Audu Ogbeh who became a member of the Federal Cabinet to protect Benue interests appears to support this satanic attempt to deny the people of Benue their fundamental human rights.

In our view, the Federal Government should place a higher premium of protecting HUMAN LIVES and not ANIMALS.

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