Thursday, May 20, 2021

The Cow-Haters (1)

All the good ideas I ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.

I don't like looking back; I absolutely adore cows.

Moo may represent an idea, but only the cow knows.

The cow is of the bovine ilk; One end is moo, the other milk.

Ogden Nash

If Ogden Nash, in the above epigraph, adores cows, some people in my country hate them with passion. But, wait a minute; is it the cows that they hate or the one that herds them? It is a triangle of hate: the hate of the President because his genome has the herder’s blood, a Fulani; the hate of the cow-owner, the herder because of, largely, his affinity to the President; and the hate of the cow. The cow is oblivious of who is the governor of a state it inhabits or the president of its country of residence, but nevertheless, the cow bears the brunt of acrimony and rancour lurking in the hearts of people who see, in every cow, the personification of Fulani or Aboki who has usurped in vanity what is rightfully theirs through one of their kinsman who happens to be President Buhari. This hatred does not stop at the tribe or race of the Fulani-Aboki, it encompasses the religion they profess.

The evil augury of the cow-haters on the outcome of the 2019 general elections came to naught. What was hidden under the façade of fighting police brutality was exposed in the aftermath of the EndSARS protests. The cows and those who herd them bear the brunt of what the cow-haters failed to achieve by the ballot and the EndSARS protests, while perpetrators of arson, murder of security personnel, and internet fraud claim innocence and compensation in Judicial Panels within the cow-haters enclave.

The cow-haters took strong exception to the image of the cows on the 200 naira note and that of a herdsman shepherding his cows on the new International Passport. Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation, said recently on the speed of the Abuja-Kaduna train, that “We are doing 90km/h with Abuja to Kaduna, the reason we are doing 90km/h is because there are cows everywhere, and we don’t want to kill cows.” The Minister was undeservedly criticised and ridiculed for making that statement. And yet the cow-haters love to hamper cows by all means and further exacerbate the problem. Recently, some rail track vandals were arrested; anything that favours the cow must not be spared even if it involves the destruction of critical national infrastructure.

They proscribed open grazing (on which more later); they are opposed to cattle ranching or colonies and called it land-grabbing (whatever that means), and they rejected RUGA settlements as nothing but ‘Militia Barracks’ for the herders, as they belied the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP). They are shamelessly opposed to every solution to the problem!

One of the bitterest opponents of any move by the government to proffer a solution to cow-hating is the Governor of the-food-basket-of-the-nation, followed by his brother-governors in the cow-haters territories. In a Nollywood-style dramatisation he claimed to have been attacked by his bête noire, Fulani herdsmen who shot at him, thanks to his fitness, he “ran for more than one and a half kilometres without stopping.” The Governor ended the fairy tale of his attack by armed herders anticlimactically without evidence of gunshots on his person, his security details or any car in his convoy. The Miyetti-Allah-sponsored hitmen were so meticulous in the way they conducted their mission that no harm touched the Governor or his retinue.

This Governor-dramatist merits garlands as the best actor in the 2020-2021 Fulani-hater film festival. His neighbour, Kauran Bauchi, Governor Bala Muhammed blamed his ‘lack of foresight’, ‘controversial utterances and policies’ as reasons ‘for the negative perception of Fulani herders in the country.’

"If you don't accommodate other tribes,” said Bala to the dramatist in a public function held recently in Bauchi, “there will be challenges because we also accommodate other tribes in Bauchi and other places. We have many Tiv people farming in Alkaleri, Tafawa Balewa, and Bogoro in Bauchi State. Has anybody told them to go? No, because they have inalienable rights to be here.

"We have people living in Bauchi for over 150 years, even before the birth of Nigeria. Nobody is talking to them to go and some of them have risen to become Permanent Secretaries in the governments of Bauchi, Borno, and so on."

"You have seen what our colleagues in the southwest and southeastern states are doing. We have told them with all modesty that they are wrong. But the person that is most wrong is my brother and colleague Governor of Benue State, Governor Ortom," he said.

The Bauchi State Governor ‘further lamented that pastoralists in the country, particularly Fulani are being maligned even though most of them have become victims of cattle rustlers who have dispossessed them of their commonwealth and they’ 'have no option than to carry AK47 because the society and the government are not protecting them.'

“Some herdsmen wrote me a letter,” the dramatist responded, “that they will kill me from the way and manner my brother and Governor of Bauchi spoke in support of herdsmen carrying arms, I suspect that he is one among the Fulani who wants to kill me and should anything happen to me they should not look far…”

The dramatist missed the point or has conveniently chosen to impute blame to his brother. Bala said herdsmen suffered a loss of their commonwealth at the hands of cattle rustlers and thus ‘have no option than to carry AK47 because the society and the government are not protecting them.' But the point has been made; our governor-dramatist is the architect of ‘the negative perception of Fulani herders in the country.’

Their political party has brought about a rapprochement and the two governors have buried the hatchet, but I think, with the handles sticking out for future engagement because the dramatist still indulges in his favourite pastime; you cannot teach an old dog new tricks!

The SNGF, a body that ‘has long been moribund’, goaded by their hatred for the cows, 17 of them converged, after years of irrelevance, to discuss security issues as they affect Nigeria presently. In the Communique (which was actually a summary of proceedings for that is not how to write communiqués) issued at the end of the conference, the leaders legislated “the ban on open grazing in the South (including cattle movement to the South by foot);”. By foot? Why not by truck which is faster? The ban should be total. The movement of the much-hated cows should be stopped by all means of transportation to places that do not need them. The poor docile animals are inhumanely transported daily by trucks to the South in their thousands to consumers that begrudge naught save hatred. As I write this piece, innocent wayfarers who look like Fulani are intercepted, lynched and burnt alive, especially where they travel with locally made hunting guns as is their custom in recent times. The SNGF conference was conveniently blind to this reality as it was to daily attacks on settlements and expulsion of Fulani from their dwellings.

God has ways of exacting retribution….

Now that police stations are attacked daily with many officers losing their lives, correctional facilities are scorched and dangerous inmates let loose, and INEC offices burnt to ashes, the cow-haters are not agreed on the proper nomenclature for the perpetrators of these crimes - arsonists, armed criminals, unknown gunmen and whatnot. They are not described as terrorists. Why not christen them Fulani herdsmen that you have expelled from your enclave? Nnamdi Kanu said God has given him a new assignment. Will this be it?

A National Publicity Secretary of a party on Wednesday, (who needs to work on his elocution; he even confused the pronunciation of kiosk with chaos), was accusing the FG of not saying anything on these burnings especially of INEC offices, but if the President had spoken (and I believe he should) such people would nevertheless have said Fulani herdsmen, who, according to them enjoy the tacit support of the President, are more deserving to be addressed than the perpetrators of the crimes. Nonsense!

The cow-haters will not anoint any Fulani for the presidency except he be a wolf in sheep's clothing to devour, in their stead, the cows they severely abhor. Cow rearing folks should be wary of accepting any Fulani candidate in whom the cow-haters are well pleased!

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