Raymond Ozoji, Awka
The Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, has kicked against the alleged plans by the Federal Government to appease the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria with N100m and by granting them radio licence and revoking the firearm licence from responsible Nigerians, describing the proposals as recipe for disaster and time bomb waiting to explode.
Bishop Ezeokafor, who stated this at St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Awka, while speaking on the state of nation, said it was very serious if it was true and could amount to enhancement or empowerment of the herdsmen to unleash more attacks on hapless Nigerians.
“The next thing is to procure more sophisticated equipment. Also, if it is true that the government had acquired licence for the Fulani to operate a radio station which would be broadcasting in Fulfulde, it could be disastrous because in other words, they will communicate to themselves in a language only they understand. No other people will know what is going on.
“And you begin to ask yourself why this priority to Fulani and herdsmen? There was a time we were told to give them lands to keep their cattle and goods. You know definitely that cattle rearing is private business. You don’t allow your goats or anything to destroy other people’s business. But when it comes to issue of this cattle, there is always sympathy and efforts to give them the best or special offer. Which is not helping us. I don’t know but if that is true, it is very dangerous,” he said.
He wondered why the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) were treated as terrorists, and big threats to unity of Nigeria while the herdsmen still go about without fear, questioning the rationale behind FG’s call for prayers for the marauding herdsmen and their sponsors.
“Inasmuch as I do not subscribe to the method adopted by IPOB and MASSOB, the fact remains that there is no smoke without fire. Some people are complaining. It is wise for the administration to understudy the problem and proffer a solution rather than crushing them. Dialogue is only solution to better a situation that could lead to crisis. Why should someone say IPOB should be crushed while the Fulani walk freely? IPOB don’t even have a gun or big sticks.
“Again, we heard that the federal government has revoked the licence and banished use of fire arms, shotguns certificates and all that. What it means is that responsible people will be completely disarmed. And criminals and rascals will be in control of these equipment and sophisticated weapons. I think there is law of self-defense in this country. You know what can happen when responsible people are denied their rights to self-defense. You know that is why one man will come to the market and succeed in conquering everyone with help of his gun.
“I am feeling uncomfortable with this and I think as a Nigerian, government should think twice and consider the decision otherwise they will provide security to all of us. I need security too even though I know that the highest security is from God. We need society where men are disciplined and well treated with fear of God. You know criminals thrive around us because of no discipline. In a developed country like Europe and others, people are disciplined and they do things according to law.
Sometime ago, it was said that former President Olusegun Obasanjo wanted to divide Nigeria. But if you look at what he said, he talked as an elder; someone who has seen yesterday, today and foreseen tomorrow. General Theophilus Danjuma said the same thing sometime ago, even Prof. Wole Soyinka corroborated Obasanjo. We should think twice. They are only advising us to do things rightly. These are men who have seen something and want us to have a rethink. Nigeria should learn from history of Rwanda.
“The government should know that this country is a secular state. By the way, we have two major religions, Christianity and Islam. And God in his own arrangement made it that the northern part of the country is dominated by the Islam, while South is populated by Christianity. I think each tribe must respect the other. Every wise person must respect another. There is still much room for an improvement by government. The government should recognise the rights of all Nigerians. It should not be comfortable with one ethnic or religious group alone,” he stated.
The prelate while reiterating his calls for state police and cattle ranch, urged the government to go for restructuring which he said would give every part equal opportunity to develop their resources.
Bishop Ezeokafor urged President Muhammadu Buhari who assumed office for a second term on Wednesday, 29 May, 2019, to be magnanimous in victory by treating all parts of the country as one.
He said although he was commending the federal government for what it had done so far, there was need for the President to give proper attention to the Niger Delta and Southeastern Nigeria, describing Niger Delta as the geese that laid the golden eggs.