Opinion | By Hon. Josef Omorotionmwan | 02. 06. 2021
We may not here be referring to the rag – tag army of policemen attached to Local Government Councillors in the name of security – such that might scamper for escape on hearing the sound of a knockout. Rather, we are looking at what obtains in some of the more advanced countries where security is serious business.
In those climes, the policeman is not easily given to shooting the suspect. In fact, the policeman is expected to outrun the fastest suspect. His duty is to pursue and catch the suspect.
In those places, when you accept the job of a body-guard say to a President, you also accept the responsibilities that go with the job. These are the men who cling tenaciously to the President’s limousine as the President convoy begins to grind to a halt. When occasions demand, they must also be prepared to outrun the President’s entourage.
Their underpinning philosophy of life is “shoot me, leave my master”. They know that it is easier for the living to explain away their death than for them to be alive to face the unending inquiries and panels of investigation over the death of the boss. In fact, when the boss dies, you will have to be explaining for the rest of your life and you will never be the same again!
The passion that herdsmen take to their cattle business has a parallel here. They are inextricably glued to their cows. Sometimes, the impression is created, rightly or wrongly, that a herdsman might be willing to trade-in his wife for a head of cattle – take my wife, leave my cow! After all, a lost cow is almost irreplaceable; but he can always marry another wife! So runs the thought.
To the herdsman, the cow is more valued than human life. The killing of their cattle has often led to the sacking and killing of members of entire communities. They have seized entire farmlands for grazing their cattle while the land owners have either been dispatched to their early graves or sent into oblivion.
As the insecurity in the land began to reach a crescendo, the Governors of the Southern States of Nigeria gathered in Asaba to look for a way out.
Among other concerns, the Governors resolved to ban open grazing in the entire South political zone of the country. They preferred ranching instead. What does this mean?
Evidently, no one expected that the morning after the Asaba Declaration, no cattle would be seen anywhere in the Southern States. We know it takes time to build the legal frame-work and come up with the modus operandi on how to achieve the terms of the Asaba Declaration.
We also know it is easier to back-slap yourselves and cling Champaign glasses that you have passed an acceptable Resolution. What follows after all that?
We have not heard of the setting up of a working secretariat for the Southern Governor’s forum or the gradual assemblage of egg-heads and legal minds to begin to look at the Resolution and how to operationalize it. What is happening? Issues of this nature are better handled while they are still hot! Delay is dangerous!
When the Governors spoke of open grazing, their minds were probably more on the grazing that takes place in the bushes. But what we have today is more of open grazing in our cities, towns and villages. We have seen cases where school children were driven away from their classrooms to make way for the cattle and the cow men.
Hitherto, reference to a herdsman was understood to be a reference to the Hausa Fulani but today, those cattle in Edo State may belong to some Edo people. In essence, our indigenous population may be actively entrenched in the cow business. To be meaningful, our effort here must be all-inclusive.
Our Governors have succeeded in scoring a cheap political point so far. But nothing is done until it is finally done. If this is not going to become their albatross and turn to a liability and work against them, they cannot rest on their oars yet. There will be time enough to rollout the drums to celebrate them when the deal is done now is the time to take a step of faith!
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