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Opinions of Saturday, 27 February 2021

Columnist: Omoluabi John

Eavesdropper: The Nigerian absurd dramas

For some time there have been issues regarding the activities of herdsmen and the menace some of them constitute to farmers, host communities and villagers. Some farmers have recorded untold losses while others have been unable to go to their farms. It has got so bad that the noise over the issue is loud across the country. There is no way anyone who is living in Nigeria or interested in Nigeria’s issues will not have heard about it.

In Ekiti, farmers have lamented the destruction of their farms by cattle. In Ogun, herdsmen activities have stopped some people from going to farms. Some killer herdsmen have also been accused of raping women and engaging in kidnap-for-ransom. The situation has become so protracted that state governors in the South-West where the situation is now getting expanding have kicked against open-grazing.

But rather than all hands to be on the deck to find a solution to the matter, some people are of the view that the herders could do as they like and the only way out of the problem is to provide lands for ranching for them.

Of course, the argument if well interpreted is suggesting that the herdsmen should be pampered. Shebi their business is more critical to the Nigerian economy than the trade of others? Why wouldn’t they destroy people’s farms and be given a pat on the back! Eavesdropper is knows that herding is like any other businesses which the owners struggle hard to get money to establish. The backdoor claim that they deserve to be given a special agency is not only laughable but also reveals what the country has been reduced into. The pepper seller, yam trader, food vendor and artisans work hard to get money to establish their business concerns. The government has not shown enough commitment about the plights of these categories of traders. The small scale and medium enterprises have not really enjoyed robust support from the government. Eavesdropper then wonders why herdsmen should be specially treated. There are many farmers who are lamenting their losses. Don’t they deserve financial support? There are stories all over that killer herdsmen have rendered many homeless, abducted several for ransoms and killed others. The state is supposed to be seen doing everything possible to end this reign of insecurity as the cases are becoming increasing. This is not the time to be promoting sectionalism and looking the other way round when there is fire on the mountain. People are in pain because of injustice.

There should be measurable punishments for crimes to send a strong warning that everyone is equal before the law. Nigeria deserves to behave like serious countries of the world. It should be seen as determined to hold onto the best lofty ideals anywhere. In this age and time, open-graving is no longer sustainable. The world has moved on and Nigeria shouldn’t be left behind. There are several countries that have set good standards that can be copied rather Nigeria holding on to archaic models which continue to ridicule it among others.

As if this big issue is not enough, there are talks about another pampering for some persons believed to be bigger than the country. Those ones are doing how they like but they shouldn’t be touched after all they are fighting a genuine cause.

But peaceful protesters cannot be allowed to ventilate their anger. These are unarmed demonstrators o who feel that the best way to speak their minds to the government is to protest peacefully. But no, they are the ones that should be manhandled. This kind of drama is not only unhealthy for democracy but a dangerous message to democracy. Those who are violent should be given a listening ear while the peaceful ones get hard knocks. Democracy allows for protests. In fact, protests are the vital element of democracy. If protests are wickedly opposed in a democratic setting, it’s like saying such a democracy is robed in totalitarianism. During the last protest by the #EndSARS protesters, the police moved powerfully to the Lekki Tollgate, venue of the protest, in a commando-style. The protesters were arrested and whisked away. Eavesdropper hasn’t forgotten that miscreants infiltrated the October 20, 2020, #EndSARS protests which resulted in the wanton destruction of iconic buildings in the state, buses and looting. The act is condemnable and the height of illogical behaviour. Eavesdropper is also not unaware of the fact that the state was trying to forestall a recurrence of that dark episode. But the protesters could be allowed to protest with security agencies giving them maximum security while also keeping an eye on hoodlums capable of causing mayhem. In Nigeria now, it’s becoming like a sin to protest. Even in Abuja, whenever some Nigerians gather to express their grievances through peaceful protests, security forces would be deployed to ensure that such don’t take place. Protests are illegal and every government parading itself as legitimate should be comfortable with them.

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