Wednesday, 22 September 2021 10:24

[OPINION] Delta State mustn’t give land to Miyetti Allah - Ocherome Nnanna

The Delta State Government must 
further clear the air on whether or not it is planning to give land to Miyetti Allah or herdsmen.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has been on record insisting that there is no land in Delta State for “cattle colonies”. 

Indeed, he hosted the first meeting of the Southern Governors Forum in Asaba in May 2021 where a region-wide ban on open grazing was announced.

Shortly after that historic meeting, a number of strange but infuriating incidents took place.

A faceless, self-styled “Fulani Jihadist” group issued a statement threatening to bomb Asaba and Agbor (Okowa’s hometown) unless the resolution to ban open grazing in Delta State was rescinded. The “presidency” did not utter a word.

Also, a Fulani spokesman bragged that the ban in Delta State was null and void as “Fulani leaders were not consulted”. 

They did not tell us their locus standi in Delta State and why they have to be “consulted” in the conduct of its affairs.

Are Fulani indigenous to Delta State, or do herdsmen pay tax? This obviously came from the malaria-induced delirium which drives some Fulani extremists to claim that their ethnic group “owns” Nigeria. 

Delta is the most terrorised state in the South. In January 2016, the Obi of Ubulu Uku in Aniocha Local Government Area, Akaeze Ofulue III, was abducted and gruesomely murdered by suspected herdsmen.

Herdsmen have their illegal and unauthorised camps in forests and farmlands all over the state.  

In fact, Governor Okowa once lamented how in some Urhobo areas, herdsmen had taken over the farmlands and were charging “tolls” before allowing farmers into their farms…in their own “Papa’s land”, as Oziddi legend, Sonny Okosun put it.

Okosun was singing for the freedom of Black people from Apartheid in South Africa over 40 years ago, not knowing that one day, Nigeria would sink to such a low level that armed herdsmen would be allowed to take over indigenous people’s ancestral lands. 

At first, Okowa’s government responded to these acts of aggression, not with a firm resolve but that of appeasement. 

As a way of mollifying these unprovoked armed invaders, he offered appointment to some northerners in his government. There is nothing wrong with this. 

It is a noble gesture, and it is frequently done in this country.

But it should be done to give non-indigenes a sense of belonging.

It should be a way to encourage peaceful, law abiding and productive non-indigenes to feel at home and thrive in other parts.

It should never be a gesture of appeasement of violent settlers. Such people should be made to feel seriously unwelcome.

My question to Governor Okowa and the Delta State House of Assembly, DTHA, is: What is the real reason behind the law banning open grazing which is awaiting passage in the House? Is this also part of Governor Okowa’s appeasement gestures?

“Please, take land and stop terrorising us”? They killed your monarch and you gave them political appointment to pacify them. Did that gesture bring peace?

What makes you think that giving them 5,000 sqm of land in each of the 25 local governments (125,000sqm in total) will do the magic?

When I made a Facebook post on this issue last week, a host of Delta State government hirelings invaded my page with all sorts of e-rat comments.

They said there was “nothing like that”. Nothing like what? Are you saying that the proposed law to ban open grazing has not set aside 5,000 square hectares in each LGA to promote “healthy and harmonious living among farmers and herders” as the Delta State Commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu, said in a recent Arise TV  interview? In that interview, the Commissioner illustrated how putting livestock in ranches has promoted more profit in places like America.

It was based on the facts of the draft law that Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, MACBAN, at the public hearing on July 27, 2021, argued that the 5,000sqm per local government was “grossly inadequate”.

They demanded for 30,000 sqm in each LGA or 750,000 sqm throughout the state.

Miyetti added as follows: “We, therefore, recommend that to practically satisfy having an abattoir, veterinary clinic, livestock market, administrative office and security post as provided in section 2(b) to (g), Section 2(a) should provide that the designated area should comprise a minimum of 30,000 sqm of land”.

History and empirical evidence have taught us that if you give Miyetti Allah or their cohorts 5,000 sqm, they will use it as a springboard to continue their undisguised conquest and empire building agenda.

Ask the people of Southern Kaduna, Plateau, Taraba and Benue states who today have lost thousands of communities, with hundreds of thousands of their people in refugee camps in the last six years alone.

If the DTSG must invest in livestock farming, let it be strictly state-owned and operated by trained indigenes and investors operating strictly on business model.

It should never be given to an alien ethnic group with a historic track record of violence and spurious claims to the ownership of other people’s ancestral lands.  

No sane person deliberately invites a virus into his home. If Miyetti Allah gets an inch of Delta State land, they will assume they got it “by conquest”.

I am a concerned person because I travel through Delta to get to my home state. When it starts, I will be exposed to the danger. Some of our Southern governors and politicians are pathetic.

Nyesom Wike of Rivers and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo still have their manly balls in their knickers.

Some others have mortgaged theirs to corrupt politics and personal cowardice.

Delta State Government must never hand over Delta people’s land to Miyetti Allah or its cohorts, or graft them into the indigenous population under any land allocation scheme that will expose the people to endless conflicts and insecurity. Delta people’s lives and property matter!

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