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Niger Delta Can No Longer Be Taken For granted Clark, Tells Buhari

By Lateef Adegbite

Edwin Clark, 94, a former Federal Commissioner  for Information during the Administration of  Yakubu Gowon, a retired Army General , appears to have allied  himself with Samuel Orton, a former minister of Trade and Investment , during  Goodluck Jonathan Presidency and now governor of the north central state of Benue , by  calling on President  Muhammadu  Buhari to see himself as ‘’ President of Nigeria  and not only of the Fulani tribe’’.

 Clark , an elder statesman , may have been forced to speak out   because of the 72 –hour ultimatum ,issued by   a group of Fulani Herders to the Delta state government  to reverse the ban on open grazing  in the state or they would launch attack on the people.

Clark: Wants Buhari To See Himself As Nigerian President

The threat may have  generated tension  in the entire southern Nigeria, as the see it as an in invitation to war.Tthe Leadership of  Mayetti Cattle Breeders Association, MACBAN,  who may have known the import of the threat were said to have distance  itself from the 72-hour ultimatum issued to the Delta state government   by a group of herders in the  south-south state. Usman Baba-Ngelzerma, Secretary General of MACBAN,  who  could not hide his feelings  , had said that  such a Statement   by faceless individuals ‘’was only  meant to create  mischief’’.

Although , not opposed to the southern governors ban on open grazing, MACBAN, however,  would want the governors which had taken the historic decision’’ to  ensure the recovery  of all grazing routes  in the country’’, but with a  caveat that’’ Fulani herders   have equal rights with all Nigerians and cannot be treated as second class citizens’’.

Many believe  that the aggrieved  Fulani herders may have been emboldened to dare  Ifeanyi Okowa, the south-south state governor over his boldness to implement the ban on open grazing  because the Katsina state born Nigerian President  had described the decision to ban open grazing  by the 17 southern states  governors which caught across parties  as’’ a questionable Legality’’, meaning that the  governors have no powers to do so.

 The Nigerian President who could not hide his feelings  may have reechoed MACMABAN’s position that ‘’it is the Constitutional right of all Nigerians  to enjoy the same rights  and Freedoms  within the 36 states of the Federation,  including Abuja the Federal Capital Territory , regardless of their state of birth or residence’’.   He may have adopted the position of the Association as he has ‘’approved ranching and revival of grazing reserves’’ across the country’’. He has made it clear to those that cares to listen  that ‘’the return of the  cattle grazing routes allowing herdsmen   trail designated  paths  across the country would further unite the people.

But Abubakar Malami, a senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Attorney General and minister of Justice, who has the ear of the Nigerian President may have made matters worse when he declared that ‘’ the ban on open grazing by the southern governors was unconstitutional’’.

 He had compared the southern governors May 11, 2021, Asaba declarations,  banning open grazing in the southern states   to the northern governors banning of spare parts trading in the north, considering that they are from the south part of the country.

The Statement credited to the two key political actors of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, may have given people of the south the  impression that the Fulani race are out to dominate the entire Nigeria by taking over  other people’s land.  This may have informed why the people believe that the Nigerian President  and Malami, the minister of Justice  insistence on open grazing  ‘’points to a hidden agenda’’.

Open grazing In Southern Nigeria

 Clark,the Delta state born elder statesman who   had expected Buhari , particular, to condemn the Fulani herders threat on  his home state  but was disappointed that he and his agents had kept quiet had   described it  ‘’as  unacceptable’’.

An aggrieved Clark may have  made the retired Army General to understand that ‘’it is the southern   Nigeria, particular, the Niger Delta,  that  provides the resources  for the survival of the entire country’’, warning that any attempt  by anybody or group’’ to deride the people of the region  will be resisted’’. He may have alluded to a group of Fulani herders threat to attack Delta state over the government implantation of the Laws  on the ban open grazing.

He may have sent a message to the retired Army General the people of southern Nigeria’’ can no longer continue in a country where some people  regard themselves as superior to other races’. Clark, who has the backing of the people of the southern Nigeria, had told Buhari that he ‘’lacks the power to impose open grazing  on the states.

Dave Umahi, governor of the south east of Ebboyi , who had decamped from the Opposition  People’s Democratic Party, PDP, to the APC, to actualise  his Presidential  ambition if it is zone to the region by the party in 2023, may have shocked many, when he said  that  his people has no land ‘’to give out for open grazing’’.

Umahi ,who had opened the door way for Fulani herdsmen to flood the state, may have spoken the mind of other south east governors when he said   that ‘’there is no land in the region  that is not owned by individuals or Corporate bodies’’.

Appearing on Channels Television on Monday, June 14, 2021,  he had made Nigerians, particular, the Fulani herders to know that  that the south east states already has Laws  banning open grazing , in keeping with the southern governors May 11, 2021, declaration at Asaba, the Delta state Capital. It was not surprisising why he had said that it would be a grievous mistake for Buhari to ask the southern governors to provide land for ranching or grazing routes.

Given the tension in the ountry, Yemi Osinbajo,  a Professor and Nigerian Vice President, had said  that ‘’there is need for proactive  leaders who  are prepared  to bring Nigerians back together’’ as was the case in the past. Osinbajo had  unbarred his mind at the weekend at the Palace of  Oba  Abdulwasiu Omogbohan Lawal, the Oniru of Yorubabaland on the occasion of   the monarch’s  first coronation cermony.  This is an indictment on the Buhari Administration for not being able to pull the different ethnic groups in the country together and the agitations for secession after over 100 years staying together, a move that was championed  by Lord Lugard.  

Stephen Ubanna

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