By Coker Onita
Three senior officers of this administration negatively stand out like sore thumbs. The public perception of their performance and attitude is less than salutary. Their actions and reactions are reprehensible, less decorous, and less gentlemanly.
I have been opportuned to discuss Senator (Dr.) Chris Ngige, our loquacious Labour and Employment Minister. He is, to me, Mr. reverse gear, who keeps drawing back the hands of the clock. But for his irascible behaviour on a lot of labour issues, we would have moved faster as a nation. His performance on health, education issues as it affects labour matters are insidious and wicked. Can’t find one labour issue that has been properly concluded since he came into office, six years ago. JUSUN and Parliamentary Staff are still on strike. ASUU and others in the university system have only been on ‘strike recess’. Ditto for National Association of Resident Doctors.
Mallam Abubakar Malami, the nation’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) recently turned logic on the head when he compared spare parts dealers with Fulani herdsmen. He compared apples with oranges. Or put another way, he planted okra and wanted to reap maize. For a very brilliant(?) lawyer and senior member of the bar, it was simply an irresponsible argument.
Malami must have been provoked by what is now dubbed: “Asaba Declaration” when 15 out of 17 Southern Governors jointly issued a communique to ban among other things, open grazing of cattle ” with immediate effect” in their domains.
Most Nigerians living in the southern and central parts of this country will tell you how frustrated and dejected farmers have become because of Cow Fulani herders. Not only have cows eaten their crops, but some have also been shot and slaughtered in the process. Many of their wives and female children have also been raped, abducted, and dehumanized.
It was as a result of these dastardly acts that the governors came with this “quick fix” solution. And in furtherance to this effrontery, Malami said that banning open grazing was like telling spare part dealers to close their shops in the North. Oh, what a shame!
How can an Attorney General of the federation compare open cattle grazing with spare parts shop? Any spare part shop can only occupy space after due payment and permission. But the herdsmen need no permission to trespass on your land to cause mayhem and damage, on the lame excuse that he is free to move anywhere in Nigeria to do open grazing.
It further clearly shows our Attorney General as an ethnic jingoist. Anybody reading his line of argument would easily appreciate where he is coming from and where he is heading.
But can we compare the Igbo spare part dealers with herdsmen carrying AK 47 and other dangerous weapons? The answer is capital NO.
Our present crop of leaders must exercise restraint in their efforts to promote their own in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. Such utterances breed anarchy, discord, hate, and eventually, war.
What does it profit an Attorney General and Minister of Justice, the number one Law Officer of the Federation to promote an ethnic card amidst the myriad of challenges plaguing the nation, a nation on the verge of disintegration and war?
If Malami wants history to be fair to him, he needs to remove the toga of confusion and a warmonger before it becomes too late.
A few months ago, it was the same Malami that discouraged President Muhammadu Buhari from accepting an invitation by members of the House of Representatives to ask him questions on the parlous state of the nation. PMB had earlier assured Speaker Gbajabiamila that he would honour the invitation of members to meet them on the floor of the House. But with the intervention of Malami, the invitation was aborted.
And when the South West Governors passed the resolution establishing a southwest security outfit in the face of acute security concerns, he was quick to condemn it, saying it was illegal.
But reason, eventually prevailed.