Buratai, soldiers and cows, by Tola Adeniyi
This battered landscape called Nigeria is a funny place. The so-called leaders are so zany that they make you wonder whether some of them just recently escaped from Professor Lambo’s Aro Mental Hospital Abeokuta. I don’t mean to say they are mad or suffering from some degree of lunacy. That will not be appropriate. Leaders cannot be madmen, or the other way round, madmen cannot be leaders. I don’t want to get confused: madmen cannot be leaders but leaders can behave like madmen.
When I was growing up in the 40s and 50s there was a great slapstick comedian in Ijebu-Igbo a sprawling city in the neighbourhood of my great Ago-Iwoye city called Kaga. Kaga was so good and captivating that he became a butt of many jokes and songs in the whole of Ijebuland and beyond. His peculiar style was to pose as a mad man, a powerful disguise antics that made him to get away with anything.
I think the spectacular success being reported by the media regarding the performance of our soldiers in the dreaded Sambisa forest has gone into their heads. Now they want to conquer the whole of Nigeria, a country in the image of the Fulani Empire. What bloody civilians from the ruling cabal have not been able to achieve because of the stiff opposition from those who feared a Plateau and Agatu treatment on their people is now about to be carried out through the backdoor.
Thanks to the brilliance and ingenuity of Lieutenant General TY Buratai. He wants to use the soldiers who are trained and equipped to safeguard the territorial integrity of the country, and are to ensure internal security at all times to abandon that specific and specified assignment and devote their time and military expertise guarding cows. It would have been a great comic relief if it had been during the time Nigeria soldiers were in the hands of a General who went by the unusual name Malu, the Yoruba name for cow!
People of this unfortunate place called Nigeria have gone through brutal assaults in the hands of the Fulani herdsmen. This writer does not care if the barbaric, brutish and brutal Fulani in question are from Futa Jallon Highlands or from Cameroon mountains or from the Moon as being shamelessly canvassed by tactless apologists who keep insulting our Ministry of Interior. The sad truth is that peaceful citizens of the nations that were forcibly yoked to produce a nightmare called Nigeria have gone through hell in the hands of marauding Fulani herdsmen who obviously value the lives of cows above the lives and sanctity of human beings. They have plundered, they have raided, they have raped, and they have killed hundreds of defenceless human beings in the deceptive name of animal grazing.
Now that there is stiff opposition to the government’s wrong headed plan to forcibly establish grazing lands across the country, clever Brutai, obviously acting a script handed over to him, wants to arm soldiers to the hilt and unleash them on people’s lands across the so-called country.
The Fulani herdsmen were carrying AK47 rifles. Frightened and brutalised Nigerians cried “Havoc!” Now it is soldiers who will be marching on people’s lands possibly forcibly acquired, and taunt them with bullets and fire and whip them to submission should any one dare challenge those who rape their wives, daughters and mothers!
Perhaps General Buratai is unaware that most of the finest bridges and dams in Egypt were built by the Egyptian army. The Engineering Corps of the Egyptian army is almost comparable with the Germans Julius Berger in terms of both quantity and quality of the numerous construction tasks performed for their country.
With most of our roads in deplorable state what one would have expected from the Chief of Army Staff is a programme of rehabilitation whereby soldiers not engaged to flush out Boko Haram would be busy mending roads from Sokoto to Lagos and from Saki to Yola.
The Nigeria Police is over stretched. Even with the ten thousand recruits into the Police force, that over burdened agency is still grossly understaffed. A good number of the soldiers now headed for cow lectures in Argentina could be utilised after a crash programme in police training.
I am aware that highly respected Audu Ogbe is sending millions of dollars to Argentina to purchase GRASS! This is ridiculous when considered against FODDER technology which is much cheaper and is billed to provide hundreds of thousands of employment to our restive youths. When I first read the story of the Ministry of Agriculture heading to Argentina to buy grass I did not believe, and I waited for weeks for a rebuttal that never came. I still want to believe that the media lied against Ogbe. The Ogbe I knew!
All Nigerian Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, Local Government Chairmen across the country and our revered traditional rulers including the Ooni of ife and the Sultan of Sokoto should all speak with one voice and stop Buratai’s scheme to put fire on the country that is well sitting on a keg of gun powder.
State governors hold the lands in trust for their people. All the lands occupied by soldiers as barracks belong to the state governors in whom the authority of land ownership is vested by the Nigerian wobbled Military Constitution.
The Army will be trespassing if it dares acquire any portion of land anywhere in this so-called country for military imposed grazing. And Buratai should not forget that this is a civilian government, not jackboot dictatorship.
This hidden agenda is too open and too pedestrian to escape detecting. It is dead on arrival. And Nigerians [I know people merely pay lip service to that title] should resist this demonic backwood strategy to further inflame passion in this place.
There are too many problems begging for solution, too many questions begging for answers in this damned place that no one who wants and desires peace for our hungry people should add the lash of provocation to their many aches. Nigeria does not want a Rwanda!
Let soldiers face their constitutionally defined role. They should not be a cranky substitute for Fulani herdsmen!