- In this piece, EMMANUEL NWEZE, our Correspondent in Enugu State takes a look at the legislative reactions of the state government to the recent invasion of some communities in the state.
It was Okonkwo who said in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart that if a man defecates in front of his house, he will not close his eyes but take a stick and break his head. That is taking a drastic action over an unprecedented and an unbecoming act being carried out by a certain people against others. Definitely, some people might term such action as taking laws into ones hands.
Since the unfortunate incident that took place at Ukpabi-Nimbo in Uzo-Uwani, Enugu State, so many people feel that law should not only be taken into hands but embraced completely if only it can forestall a recurrence of such dastardly and inhuman act where people were slaughtered like chicken during festivals in cold blood.
Immediately the news of the despicable act filtered into town, anger flared up in the state. Many strongly expected that Governor Ugwuanyi would have declared war on the rampaging Fulanis. He did not; instead, he went to Abuja to complain to President Buhari, then started calling stakeholders’ meeting for other people to proffer solution to the problem.
Apart from seeking the opinion of Enugu State indigenes on the way out of the logjam, Ugwuanyi recently convened a joint meeting with Fulanis at Government House at which it was agreed that no indigene should kill Fulani cow, neither should herdsmen graze their cows at night. The meeting also resolved that herdsmen should pay for crops damaged in the farms.
To some observers, that looked like a masterstroke, but what Goernor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State did recently is by far adjudged a better option. Though some people may see it as draconian, the popular perception is that herdsmen’s destructive grazing activities is more draconian and barbaric than the measures adopted by Gov. Fayose to check the activities of the invaders.
Fayose who is piqued by what herdsmen are doing in virtually all the states of the federation has banned grazing of cows in Ekiti State, even as he suggested that any person who wants to rear cattle in the state should own a ranch. Nobody knows how the order would be obeyed but according to some experts, that is the most civilised and prompt action to take in the face of the persistent menace posed by the ugly development.
Deliberating on a motion brought before the Enugu State House of Assembly by the member representing Uzo-Uwani Constituency, Hon. John Ukuta over herdsmen’s menace shortly after the April 25, 2016 massacre at Uzo-Uwani, members expressed displeasure and made heartfelt comments on what they felt would be the solution to the undeclared aggression.
Hon. SKE Ude-Okoye, Awgu North suggested that the type of security measures adopted by Anambra, Bayelsa, and Delta States should be adopted in Enugu State to check the menace and protect the people against such armed invasion.
Member representing Nsukka East, Hon. Christian Chinedu Nwamba, who said that his heart was bleeding because of what happened opined that drastic action should be taken by the state government. He suggested that the best option is to make a law banning or regulating cattle-rearing in the state.
“If we don’t have a law to stop these people from moving from one place to the other, the problem will not stop. I am not saying that people should not do business. After talking all these grammar, if there is no law, it will not have any effect,” he said.
Nwamba’s colleague from Nsukka West Constituency, Hon. Dame Nkechi Lilian Omeje-Ogbu was of the opinion that the herdsmen should not be allowed to operate anywhere in the state. She said that she has stopped eating beef because what the herdsmen are doing to her people at home and in the farm is unacceptable.
“Let them move back to their states. How can a 17-year old boy carry AK 47 riffle and nothing happens. I don’t know what people call one Nigeria. Is this what we call one Nigeria? It cannot continue like this. If we are one Nigeria, they should let us be,” she fumed.
Hon. Nelson Uduji representing Awgu South, while contributing to the debate said the entire state should embark on a 7-day hunger strike so that the world would know how grievous the massacre was.
On his part, Hon. Anthony Ogidi, Igbo-Eze North Constituency lamented that the state was sitting on a time bomb because of the invading herdsmen and their activities. To check the menace, he suggested that security posts should be mounted in all the border communities to forestall a future occurrence.
Speaking like his colleagues, Hon. Dons Uzogbado, Deputy Speaker, saw it as a war and said that Ndigbo should rise up to the occasion because “we have been pushed to the wall. Igbos should fight when pushed to the wall”.
The apex Igbo cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo also spoke scathingly while condemning the massacre at Uzo-Uwani and the other crimes the herdsmen had been committing in the land. They suggested that cows should not be bought or sold in Igboland. They also resolved that cows and horses should not be used for burials and other ceremonies in Igboland. Unless such measures are taken, herdsmen’s menace will remain a big problem in the Southy-east.
From the foregoing, no one measure should be adopted to ensure that herdsmen menace is checked in Nigeria. Any measure any community adopts and it works for them like Fayose ordered that cattle-rearing and grazing should be banned in Ekiti State.