By Jude Atupulazi
That the people of the Southeast of Nigeria have always been marginalized and taken for a ride is no longer a new thing. Generations since the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War have grown up to not only hear about it, but witness it firsthand. But what rankles the most is the way our leaders appear to be docile in the face of insult and intimidation.
The other day, someone cried his heart out about how leaders of the Igbo Nation went to Buhari in Abuja and lined up for photographs with him to celebrate the approval of N10B for the rehabilitation of Enugu Airport. The writer queried how many times leaders of the North who have gained much more from the Federal Government had exhibited such tomfoolery after receiving what is their due from the FG. He recalled how the same FG gave the Governor of Kwara State even much more as bailout without anyone seeing pictures taken or noise made. But in our case, our leaders took a ”powerful’ delegation that included aged traditional rulers, to Aso Rock to receive money for the airport.
It is believed that this docility, naivety and foolishness are what encourages the FG to treat the Igbo Nation like scum and the latest is the Southeast, which has the least number of federal roads, and also the worst, ending up being the zone with the highest number of the proposed toll gates across the nation.
I came across a telling article on the social media which I thought you, my reader, would like to read and file away in the deeper recesses of your heart. I share it below as found.
Ruga Shrouded In “Toll Gate” By John Udemezue
When, a couple of months ago, Present Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) floated the idea of RUGA, the intention of which was to grab land from every state and convert same to settlements for his Fulani tribesmen from all over Africa, it did not sell. For various reasons, it did not go down well with many parts of the country, especially the Southern Regions. In fact, it was roundly rejected as unpopular. People did not see any reason for giving only the Fulani tribe this kind of undeserved attention. Others saw it that the Fulani herdsmen, who had been implicated in over 60% of crimes committed all over the country in recent times, are by their nature, very hostile and heinous in action and as such, nobody would like to live with such a heartless set of people who value cattle more than human beings. There are still some who saw the move as PMB’s further step in the islamization of Nigeria.
PMB is a retired general and it is said that a general is always a general. By his training, when a general is beaten back at the war front, he retreats (without surrendering) and re-plans his attack, via an un-similar strategy.
This is exactly what PMB has done. RUGA was rejected. He suspended it. He started re-planning. The outcome of his re-planning is “Toll Gates”. According to the proposed “Toll Gates” project, the South-Eastern (S-E) region alone will house about 60 “Toll Gates”. This means that each state in the S-E will get over 10 “Toll Gates” while most states in the North will get only one “Toll Gate” if they will ever end up getting it. That is PMB’s and his advisors’ level of intelligence.
Very unfortunately, our people have caught the bait by shouting that the number of the “Toll Gates” in the South-East is too much. In order to have his way, PMB may accept to reduce same to about 9 “Toll Gates” per state in the region. But the questions to which we must address our already deceived minds are: (1) Where are the federal roads where the “Toll Gates” will be erected? (2) Assuming, but without conceding, that the federal roads are there, is PMB really planning for “Toll Gates”? I will attempt to answer the above two questions seriatim.
(1) In Nigeria we have Trunk A, Trunk B and Trunk C roads which respectively belong to the Federal, States and Local Governments. In the South-East the major federal roads are Enugu-Onitsha; Onitsha-Owerri; Owerri-Aba; Enugu-PH, Onitsha-Anaku-Omor-Adani-Nsukka; Nsukka-Enugu, etc. roads. One will agree with me that one characteristic shared by these ‘roads’ in common is that they are all not only impassable but they are all death-traps and have indeed claimed and continue to claim several lives on daily bases. The situation is not in any way different in other parts of the entire South: Lagos-Ore-Benin; Lagos-Ibadan, Ibadan-Ife; PH-Calabar; Calabar-Uyo roads, to mention just a few, are living examples of death traps in the S-W and S-S regions. Ordinarily a reasonable government that intends to collect tolls on roads must in the first place, make those roads useable and passable. In Nigeria that has not been the case. The practice then became that any state government that has shame would engage in palliative work, at least, to render the federal roads barely passable and thereafter apply to the federal government for reimbursement. This is precisely not what it should be in a situation where a government is conscious of and lives up to its responsibilities to the people.
To make the already bad matter worse, recently, the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Fasola (SAN) announced that the federal government would no longer refund a state government any money spent in renovating federal roads. This policy is, to say the least, very unfortunate and goes to show that the federal government under PMB does not have the welfare of the people at heart. Again, to add insult to injury, the appalling announcement came at a time when the same federal government is planning “Toll Gates”.
So if PMB is coming with his “Toll Gates” we are invariably waiting for toll gates to be erected on impassable roads: right on top of ditches and muds.
(2) In answer to question 2, let us here assume, but will never concede, that there are passable and motorable federal roads in the South-East where the “Toll Gates” will be erected, does anything justify the erection of over 10 “Toll Gates” in each of the S-E states? The answer is No, if indeed PMB is planning for “Toll Gates”. That the “Toll Gates” are suspicious is an understatement.
This takes us to the highly credible belief that the so-called “Toll Gates” are RUGA packaged in a different carton boldly labelled “Toll Gate”. I, therefore implore all those who have ears, as well as interpretative minds, to note the following REVELATIONS:
(i) In a blunt language, the proposed “Toll Gates” are RUGA settlements for Fulani herdsmen.
(ii) To start with, the proposed “Toll Gates” will be erected in every 5 Km in any state in the S-E, considering the limited landmass of each state.
(iii) The “Toll Gates” will be manned by fully armed men of the armed forces and the police, most of whom are Fulani tribesmen.
(iv) Immediately the construction of the “Toll Gates” commences, you and I will begin to notice Fulani settlements developing, at a very fast rate, on both sides of the road at the juncture where the construction work will be going on. These men, who will be fully protected by the armed men of our forces, will be tagged “labourers” but in the real sense, they are not. They are permanent RUGA settlers. Before anyone can say Jack, their cattle will be grazing and very big mosques will be erected on both sides of the road by the federal government. Only God can imagine the scope and speed of the expansion, as well as the number of Fulani herdsmen that will come to permanently settle around the “Toll Gates”. Before long any community living close to the “Toll Gates” will begin to feel the fire of the herdsmen: general unfriendliness, crop devastation, rape, kidnapping, murder, etc. They will not stop there, within 5 to 10 years they will begin to demand for representation at both the Local Government and State levels.
(v) In this day and time when an average Igbo man with a single wife, would decide to have 2 or 3 children so that he will ‘be able to take good care of them’ while an average Fulani man will take 4 wives each with at least 5 children (i.e. 20 children), it will be a question of less than 15 years for them to out-number any state in which they are settled. The consequences of this superior numerical strength is as terrible as you know. They will create emirates and forcefully take over the administration of the LG. The state will just follow in a very quick succession. Be warned!!!!
(vi) There are more “Toll Gates” in the S-E and S-S because there are more Christians in these areas. In other words, if these “Toll Gates” are allowed, the entire S-E and S-S will be islamized without a gunshot.
I am not unaware that some of my Christian brothers from the S-E and S-S, who will care to read this write-up, will not believe me. It is my unshaking position that if nothing is done to stop the “Toll Gates” very soon this REVELATION shall come to pass. It is preventable. It is avoidable.
I therefore, urge our people to stiffly oppose this idea of “Toll Gates” which is neither in the APC manifesto nor a part of +PMB’s electioneering campaign promises. If I may ask, why is it that PMB, who has only negatively fulfilled his campaign promises, is boldly venturing into a project that he never spoke of during his campaign? An honest answer to this question will be an eye-opener. We must open our eyes now or close them forever. The latter option is dangerous and poisonous to us and to our generations unborn.
As we rejected RUGA, let us unanimously reject “Toll Gates” even if it is one in a state. It is a Greek gift. The so-called “Toll Gates” are RUGA settlements shrouded in deception.
RUGA is deadly; “Toll Gates” are deadlier. To both we say No!!
A word is enough for the wise. Had I known is a fool’s apology.