At a time when farmers-herdsmen conflict is threatening to tear the South-West region apart, and sow ethnic tension across Nigeria, prominent political office holders are speaking up.
Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, was one of the many who has lent his voice to the national concern.
Last week, he veered into the brewing conflict, offering a solution, he believes, might see to its end.
This, and other interesting stories made the National Assembly (NASS) tick in the past week.
Gbajabiamila’s peace call
On February 3, Hon. Gbajabiamila called for dialogue as means to an amicable resolution to the face-off between herdsmen and their host communities in southern part of the country.
“Everybody has to come to the table and discuss and come to an amicable resolution. I’m sure we will. I don’t think any ethnic group should lord it over the other. The South-West should not lord it over the North; the North should not lord it over the South. We should respect each other’s trade, geographical space, history and culture. More importantly, the issue of crime, particularly murder, should be completely jettisoned,” he had said, while fielding questions from journalists at Aso Rock Villa.
Gbajabiamila’s call can better be appreciated within the context of the herdsmen conflict with their host communities which has stoked so much bad blood between some sections of the country, especially the Southern and Northern regions.
There is no denying the strong feeling of mutual distrust and this explains why Gbajabiamila’s call for peace and mutual respect among the Yoruba and Fulani ethnicities may not come easy.
Already, groups such as the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), have expressed displeasure at any likelihood of a peace parley with the herders, probably because of the distrust they have for them.
Gbajabiamila’s calls can only be made full if he insists on the prosecution of criminal herdsmen while mobilizing fellow lawmakers to bring necessary pressures to bear on the President to act more swiftly, not just in condemning the criminal acts, but following through with implementation of existing legislations and initiating new ones.
He must also venture beyond being politically correct to speaking truth to power, especially as there is overwhelming agreement that the country must do away with open grazing which has pitched farmers against herders.
NASS MEMORY LANE
“It seems to me that Nigeria is becoming a lawless country; a country with no rules and regulation, a country where laws are not adhered to, and a country where there is no consequence for bad behaviour. The Minister of Defence should tell us what he is doing. If the cabinet is incompetent, then we should fire them. You do not understand this. Maybe cameras should go and see these dead bodies. Maybe the National Broadcasting Commission should change its laws and go and see these bodies. It is as if we are in Liberia or Cameroun?”
Answer: See end of post
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on February 6, declared that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will continue to dominate Nigeria’s political space beyond the 2023 general elections.
Speaking after revalidating his membership of the party at Katuzu ward in Bade Local Government Area of Yobe North Senatorial District, Yobe State, he said, among other things: “But in 2023, by the grace of God, APC should win more National Assembly, gubernatorial seats. APC should continue to dominate the Presidency, and we are not asking for 16 years. We want to do things that will make Nigerians to continue trust the APC, to continue to identify with our government and Presidency because we mean well and will continue to do well for Nigeria.”
In different climes, it is normal for politicians to crave for long political dominance of their parties. Hence, Lawan’s dreams are understandable and relatable.
The Senate President, however, must come to terms with the fact that his party – APC – has lost much political capital owing to the various failings of the Buhari-led administration.
This is depicted in rising youth unemployment, never-ending Boko Haram attacks, broken promises to restructure the country, farmers-herdsmen crisis, unbridled corruption, harsh economic realities, infrastructural decay, among others.
It is hoped that the NASS number one man would come to the realisation that his party needs to sit up, and strategize towards addressing these minuses as success in these areas would gift them the needed political capital come 2023.
For now, Lawan’s projections of APC’s political dominance can only remain in the realm of dreams.
COVID-19 at NYSC camps
On February 2, the Chairman, House Committee on Youth Development, Hon. Yemi Adaramodu, dismissed fears over the possible spread of COVID-19 in the orientation camps of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), currently in progress across the country.
Speaking with journalists after the oversight visit of the Committee to the Nasarawa State NYSC camp at Keffi, he said: “There is no cause for concern on the possible spread of the COVID-19 at the ongoing NYSC Orientation Camps across the States of the federation and the FCT, Abuja.”
Adaramodu’s statement serves as a sign of relief on the growing fears that the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic has taken seat at the NYSC orientation camps across the nation.
However, it does not present the entire picture and sounds hasty.
Only on January 24, the Cross River State Commissioner for Health, Betta Edu, had noted that 20 corps members who came for their NYSC programme tested positive to the disease.
Soon after came the scary news of a resident officer of the NYSC, posted to the permanent orientation camp in Kano, who developed COVID-19 symptoms and died on February 2.
Nothing would be more pleasing to the ears than to hear that the NASS Committee is utilising the influence of their position to ensure that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 ensure that all COVID-19 protocols are fully adhered to at all camps in the country.
And, beyond this, provide the required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all corps members and staff at the camps.
The nation cannot afford to put the lives of its young, bright graduates in harm’s way.
Answer: Senator Shuaibu Lau
Lau made the statement on January 17, 2018, on the floor of the Red Chambers of the NASS. He was expressing his frustration over killing of innocent Nigerians in Benue State by criminal herdsmen. He represents Taraba North Senatorial District.
By John Chukwu…
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