Drone ko, drown ni

THE Yoruba nation must have gone through some regret as one of its first  class monarchs in a childlike manner brought out a campaign poster of President Muhammadu Buhari under his agbada and grinning  from ear-to-ear as he had moment with the country’s helmsman. The unfortunate spectacle captured on video during the latest visit of monarchs from the region to Aso Rock was punishing for those who have history.

The shameful scene of an Oba invited over the serial killings of his people  not carrying  the list of those he had lost to herdsmen terror but will hold a poster of the President in a manner that is infradig of a hostling Ward party stalwart would bring to memory how the fathers used to carry themselves.

When Oonirisa had to meet the colonial Governor in Lagos in 1904 to tell him if the Elepe was among oduduwa children entitled to bearded crowns upon a petition by the Akaeigbo, the white man did not have the opportunity to behold Oonirisa’s face as he backed him throughout the encounter.

But whatever was lost in that royal indiscretion was gained in the fact that the team led to Aso Rock by Oonirosa was able to insist on the demand of Yoruba people that criminal herdsmen must vacate their space.

Beyond that was the revelation by the leader of the team that what would amount to taqqiya (deception) was all the reason for dragging the royal fathers to the Federal Capital Territory(FCT).

There was no response to the request to flush terror-herdsmen from the region with the only offer being that drones in the hands of a Federal Government that has looked the other way as Fulani herdsmen supervised a reign of terror over communities across the country would be deployed to check crimes .

A drone is unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) (or uncrewed aerial vehicle. It is an aircraft without a human pilot on board and a type of unmanned vehicle. UAVs are a component of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS); which include a UAV, a ground-based controller, and a system of communications between the two. The flight of UAVs may operate with various degrees of autonomy: either under remote control by a human operator or autonomously by onboard computers.

Drones are known to have been put to various uses but we have not heard or learnt they can arrest criminals or put  them on trial which has been the bane of law and order in Nigeria in the last few years.

A former Defense Minister and taciturn General, T.Y Danjuma rightly placed his fingers on what is wrong with law enforcement in Nigeria as it relates to herdsmen killings through his declaration in Jalingo on March 23, 2018. The usually press shy Taraba-born General said the unnecessary killings, which was a targeted to ethnic cleansing on the people of Taraba and Nigeria at large must stop, just as he called on the people to rise and defend themselves against the killers.

“You must rise to protect yourselves from these people, if you depend on the Armed Forces to protect you, you will all die.

“This ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba, and it must stop in Nigeria. These killers have been protected by the military, they cover them and you must be watchful to guide and protect yourselves because you have no any other place to go.

“The ethnic cleansing must stop now, otherwise Somalia will be a child’s play. I ask all of you to be on your alert and defend your country, defend your state,” he said

His take which has yet to be faulted by events all over the country has made it very clear that locating merchants of terror who openly address press conference with the enforcement of law and order against them being near-nil has not been our problem  and anyone talking of drones must therefore be having some fun at the expense of the victims of herdsmen terrorists afflicting the country.

The above-the-law status of  Fulani herdsmen in our country was confirmed to The Punch newspaper on February 24, 2018 by a Commissioner of Police, Airport Command, Mustapha Dandaura, who said the police cannot arrest herdsmen who allow their cattle to stray onto and graze on airport runways in the country.

He said herdsmen could only be arrested in states where the anti-open grazing law was effective.

However, Dandaura said that all policemen and other security officials at the airports had been instructed to stay on high alert to prevent a situation whereby cows would take over airport runways.

He said, “It’s only in states where the anti-open grazing law is in place that herdsmen can be arrested for allowing their cattle to graze on airport runways. Apart from those states, we have not been told to start arresting herdsmen.

“But we have already alerted our men at the airports to ensure such incident does not occur again. The state police commands have also been carried along and everyone is on the alert.

“We can’t have a situation whereby cows would be straying onto and grazing on airport runways because it is embarrassing. Everyone is now on the alert and it’s going to be prevented.”

His statement came after an Air Peace flight from Lagos was prevented from landing at the Akure Airport, Ondo State as cows took over the runway.

This embarrassing utterance of the CP in a supposed modern society is a reflection  of the weakness of our laws against Fulani herdsmen and the high point of the devaluation of our country which has seen cows being at the centre stage of our national life in the last four years. Most of our conversations have been around Miyetti Allah, cattle routes, grazing reserves, Ruga and all that.

Of course Dandaura was being comical when he said herdsmen could only be arrested in states that have anti-open grazing laws as members of Miyetti Allah have shown what their weapons can do in states that didn’t get the message that herders are above the law in the country.

When Benue paid with 73 lives on January 1, 2018, for enforcing anti-open grazing bill, Governor Samuel Ortom was summoned to Abuja to receive instructions on how to co-exist peacefully with killer-neighbors. It was around the time the then Minister of Defence declared that herdsmen were killing people because their cattle routes have been blocked!

The drone promise to Yoruba Obas is the wake-up  call to the current Nigerian reality that anyone who looks up to Abuja to save him from the festival of blood going on in the country will drown in his blood like General T. Y Danjuma warned. There is no solution coming from the seat of unitary rule that is only content with command and control rather than allowing federating units to control their lives and make progress .

I recall some events at the 2014 National Conference as we took two days to discuss multi-level policing. The first day was stormy with opposition coming mainly from the North. As we closed for the day, I saw a photograph on the front page of The Nation. It looked like a Nigerian policeman in crisp uniform. But the caption showed the gentleman was a Hishba police, the Sharia enforcers in Kano.

We got 492 copies of the paper and placed a copy on the table of each delegate with the image marked. The debate the following day ended with the adoption of multi-level policing.

But the conquest agenda has ensured that till date only the Sharia police is allowed outside the single police that is anathema to federalism, with elected governors who are jokingly called Chief Security officers not having law enforcement units.

Is it that the best persons who are patriotic and love the people across Nigeria can only be found in Abuja and the only ones that can be trusted with policing? Heck NO!  The many abuses that are prevalent with the existing single police have shown that all we need is institutionalised management of the police at all levels to ensure no one at any tier turns it into his thugs in uniform.

Our traditional rulers, governors and all citizens must unite to ensure we solve this issue once and for all by insisting on a proper federal structure. All the “Ona eburu”(short cut) of this security outfit or that in the absence of state police are too token and mere stop-gap measures that only scratch the surface.

Nigeria has a very short life-span left if we refused to recalibrate as Papa Obafemi Awolowo warned as far back as the 60s:

“Besides, it is not difficult to forecast that the work of government in Nigeria under a unitary constitution is bound to become unduly complex, inextricably tangled, extremely unwieldy and wasteful, and productive of disunity and discontent amongst the people. Unless we have veritable supermen at the helm of affairs, the administrative machinery would eventually disintegrate and break down under the crushing weight of ‘bureaucratic centralism” — Oloye Obafemi Awolowo on June 12, 1967 from CELL DUP2, CALABAR PRISON in his book, Thoughts On The Nigerian Constitution.


Goni of Borno

I inadvertently referred to Mohammed Goni as Second Republic Governor of Gongola last week. The jolly good friend of Papa LKJ, who was by his side as he celebrated his 90th birthday in Lagos recently, was of Borno State.

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