The Catholic bishop of Awka Diocese, His Excellency Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, has kicked against the alleged plans by the Federal Government to appease the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria by granting one hundred billion Naira issuance of Radio License to Fulani herdsmen and revoking of firearm license from responsible Nigerians, describing the proposals as recipes for disaster and time bombs waiting to explode, reports Abuchi Onwumelu.
Bishop Ezeokafor who stated this at St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Awka, while speaking on the state of the nation, said it was very serious if it was true and could amount to 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 license for the Fulani to operate a radio station which would be broadcasting in Fulfulde, it could be disastrous because they will communicate with themselves in a language only they understand.
‘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 business is private. You don’t allow your goats or anything to destroy another’s business. But when it comes to the issue of this cattle, there is always sympathy and efforts to give them the best or special offers. It is not helping us. I don’t know, but if that is true, it is very dangerous,’ he said.
Bishop Ezeokafor wondered why the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) were treated as terrorists, and big threats to the unity of Nigeria, while the herdsmen went about without fear. He questioned 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 members don’t even have guns or big sticks.
‘Again, we heard that the Federal Government has revoked the license 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 arms and sophisticated weapons. I think there is a law of self-defence in this country. You know what can happen when responsible people are denied their rights to self-defence. You know that is why one man will come to the market and succeed in conquering everyone with the 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 a 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 had seen yesterday, today and foresaw tomorrow. General Theophilus Danjuma said the same thing; 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 the history of Rwanda,’ the bishop advised, reminding the FG that the country remained a secular state and that such should be respected.
The prelate, while reiterating his call for state police and cattle ranches, 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, he stressed the need for the President to give proper attention to the Niger Delta and Southeastern Nigeria, describing the Niger Delta as the goose that laid the golden eggs.