Wednesday, 28 February 2018


 By Godwin Erhahon,  Benin City.

Yesterday's  resolution of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) extending the tenure of the Chief  John Odigie-Oyegun-led Executive by one year must have surprised many.

This is so because of the tensions generated by the letter written to him and made public last week by the National Leader of the party,  Asiwaju Bola  Tinibu accusing him of sabotaging the national reconciliation assignment which President Muhammadu Buhari entrusted him (the great Asiwaju) with .

It was widely expected that at least Chief  Odigie-Oyegun,  if not his entire EXCO,  would be sacked at the meeting.

But the meeting ended on a win win note with the national chairman being rewarded for his good leadership with a one year tenure extension bonus and Asiwaju  receiving commendations for his reconciliation efforts.

What better result could the governing party have wished for?

Those of us who have known Chief Odigie-Oyegun closely since he ventured from post-retirement business life into politics in 1990 leading to his heroeic victory in the December 14, 1991 governorship election in Edo State on the platform of the then Social Democratic Party (SDP)only laughed at those who predicted that he would fall at the meeting.

Having worked also with President Buhari consistently since 2003, I know the President is one who cannot be swayed by cheap propaganda nor goaded into rash decisions to please a maddening crowd.

Chief Odigie-Oyegun is not a greedy leader who can easily be challenged on ground of corruption or infidelity.

As he meticulously chooses his words  so does he cautiously takes his actions.

This meticulousity of his is what some often misread as weakness.

Having led APC to defeat a wild  ruling PDP in the 2015 presidential election and claimed some states from the defeated ruling party subsequently ,  only the crass igrates within the APC would wish him disgraced out of office.

Like the barbwire,  Chief Odigie-Oyegun may look flexible and fragile but his heart is stronger than steel and larger than the Zuma Rock just as his vision is  holy and divine because as a devout catholic, he communes with his Maker  on the next line of action to take.

Back home in Edo State,  he has continued to tolerate those who often muck his old age and try to provoke him into duel while he prayerfully leaves all to God.

But by his mature approach,  he has continued to disgrace his detractors.

 A national Chairman who is spitefully denied any input to the selection of candidates or political appointees in his home state governed by his party and yet would not protest even when his teaming followers urge him to, is surely endowed with patience and tolerance as potent winning strategy !

As the Binis would say :"it is God who chases those chasing the innocent dealf and dump! "

 As the great author and inspirational speaker,  Robbert  Schullar said : "Tough times never last but tough people do ".

Tough times for Chief Odigie-Oyegun is over but the titanic Chief tugs on.              

He will lead APC through the next primaries , general elections and  inauguration of the next government which his destiny guarantees for the governing party.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018


Gen. John Shagaya and late Gen. Joe Garba are military officers, I admired. The last appointment of Gen. Joe Garba before he passed on was DG, NIPSS, Kuru, Jos. Coincidentally, Gen. John Shagaya's appointment was also as DG, NIPSS. Both are from Langtang and belonged to the dreaded Langtang Military Mafia.
I met Gen. Joe Garba, one on one in London, in 1976 through his younger brother and my friend,  then Captain Sunny Garba, who was his ADC. My relationship with Sunny started in the early 70s as a High School student in Lagos. My paternal aunt had her house on 86 Obalende Rd, at the corner of Obalende Rd  and Keffi street, right opposite Dodan Barracks, then the seat of power.
In 1976, Joe Garba was then Commissioner(Minister) of External Affairs. Representing Nigeria, in the Commonwealth Summit in London, he was a delight to watch and an attraction to the British media for interviews. That almost sparked a conflict between the Gen. Shehu Musa Yar'adua's camp that led the Nigerian delegation to the summit  and Joe Garba's camp. Joe Garba influence and charisma, overshadowed that of Shehu Musa Yar'ardua. This spilled over to Major Jokolo and Captain Sunny Garba, both ADCs to the two Generals. The two ADCs, were consequently disarmed, to forestall escalation of the conflict or division in the delegation. I am not sure this was reported in the Nigeria media at the time.
I returned to Nigeria in 1979 after my studies for the NYSC assignment in Kaduna. Gen. Joe Garba was the Commandant of the NDA, Kaduna. Our path crossed once again.
I had two friends(medical Doctors) at the NDA enrolled into the Direct Short Service(DSS) Course. Their military hero then was late Mamman Vasta. They claimed he was a brilliant military officer and a poet. I had not heard of Vasta at the time, but I told them that they had a most brilliant military officer as their Commandant, in Joe Garba. We held on to our opinions.
Few weeks, later, my friends came back to me smiling and admitted that I was right in my assessment of Joe Garba.
What convinced them? They said Joe Garba came into the lecture room without any note or text book and lectured them on OAU. What can anyone lecture or talk about on OAU, in anytime more than 30 minutes? Joe Garba lectured for two hours, non stop on the subject!
I met Gen. John Shagaya for the first time in 2015 as co-members of the Presidential Inauguration Committee, in Abuja at the Aso Rock Villa, Festival Hall. He was head of the Security Committee and I was a member of the Transport & Logistics Committee. We both came early for a scheduled PIC meeting and while waiting for others and members of his committee to arrive, he sat with myself and few other committee members. When his security committee members arrived, including present DG, DSS, Lawal Daura, Gen. India Garba AIG Bawa Lawal and other top security officers, I stood up to take my leave and jokingly said that "bloody civilians" are not for the security committee. He politely told me to sit down and lectured us on how the term "bloody civilians" came about.
Post PIC, I met him early last year, 2017, with his younger sister at the National Hospital, Abuja, still without an appointment for him. That saddened me. However, he encouraged me to be patient as things will get better for good. In our circle at the time, we thought John Shagaya will be appointed as either the Minister of Defence or Minister of Internal Affairs. This did not come to pass.
At last, he got appointed as the DG, NIPSS to reposition the Institute. His last posting outside his military postings! He died! On a road he travelled several times, day and night! The question posed by this post highlighted is was he *simply killed*? Just like Joe Garba before him? My condolences to the people of Langtang, the families of the two Generals, their military constituency and Nigeria, for the loss of the two great and selfless Nigerians.
This riddle, just as others, may not be unravelled.
Rest in peace, Generals Joe Garba and John Shagaya. Your struggles for a nation and  to install this government, will not be in vain.

Edwin Ogunbor

Thursday, 8 February 2018


President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja explained that the policy proposed by Federal Government in response to the frequent clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the country is not meant to colonize any part of the country.
Receiving Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) led by Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, President Buhari said the intention of government is to create grazing locations for cattle rearers, which has now been misconstrued as another form of colonization.
President Buhari regretted that the well-thought out policy of the Federal Government, which was conceived after wide consultations with stakeholders, had been largely misunderstood by a section of the public.
He, however, assured the Catholic Bishops that the Federal Government will continue to explore all opportunities and support initiatives to ensure peace and stability in restive areas.
Condemning recent spate of killings in Benue, Adamawa, Taraba, and Zamfara states, the President said security operatives would ensure prosecution of perpetrators and all those found with illegal arms in the affected areas.
‘‘The impression created that I was sitting in an air-conditioned office and home, enjoying myself while these things happened, is dishonest.
‘‘At every step, I have tried to foresee these problems because I have the experience as a former military officer who commanded three out of the four divisions of the Nigerian army, in Lagos, Ibadan and Jos.
‘‘I am quite aware of the problems we have and I am doing my best to get law enforcement agencies to be on alert,’’ he said.
The President told the Catholic Bishops that he would not be tired of recounting remarkable progress recorded in the areas of security, economy and the fight against corruption.
‘‘We have done very well on security in the North East, when you compare what the condition was before we came in and what it is now.
‘‘On the economy, particularly agriculture, I am very pleased that God answered the prayers of Nigerians who prayed for bountiful harvest.
‘‘People have taken advantage of Federal Government policies and programmes to return to the farm and they have not regretted,’’ he said.
On the fight against corruption, the President reiterated that government would be guided by the law in the investigation and prosecution of all graft-related cases.
‘‘People are being prosecuted systematically with evidence.
‘‘If a permanent secretary has five houses in Abuja, two in Kaduna and one in Borno and Sokoto and he can’t account for the properties and there are bank transactions linking him to the properties, the prosecuting agencies will not have difficulties to make progress on the case."
On the question of Federal character, the President declared that no ethnic group or political zone has been deliberately marginalised in the appointments made so far.
He, however, added that he would take a second look at areas on which issues have been raised, when a compendium of all government appointments is submitted to him.
In his remarks, Archbishop Kaigama pledged that the Catholic Church in Nigeria would continue to support the Buhari administration and make its contribution to nation-building through prayers, admonitions and assistance to needy Nigerians.
‘‘As the voice of the people, we shall continue to highlight the plight of our people and play our prophetic role of sensitising the government, thus promoting good governance, national unity and cohesion,’’ Kaigama said.

Special Adviser to the President
Media & Publicity
February 8, 2018



*Says President is very concerned & working hard to resolve the crisis

*"I do not know of any one issue that has given him more concern or on which he has spent more time with Security Chiefs as this particular issue."

*No one is giving land to anyone, as is being falsely alleged. Instead, it is our view that States that are willing and which have set aside land for development should cooperate with willing investors in commercially viable, government-supported ranches or livestock production centres for commercial use.



I am deeply grateful to the distinguished and honorable members of the National Assembly for this very kind invitation, to speak at this crucial National Security Summit. And I especially commend the distinguished majority leader of the Senate, Senator Ahmed Lawan who leads the ad-hoc committee on Security Infrastructure. I also want to say a special thank you to the Senate President for giving me the opportunity of declaring this meeting open.

Hosting this summit underscores your recognition, that the primary business of government is law and order. And by government, I mean the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary.

I am sure that distinguished members will recall, that the National Economic Council, comprising the Federal and State governments, had held a similar security summit in August last year, at which we had the eminent company of the leadership of the National Assembly, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and all Service Chiefs and several other stakeholders.

That Summit was important because it took into account the several security challenges our country have faced over the years and currently still facing. Also in September 2017 the month after, the federal government, after a year-long consultation with stakeholders, hosted a Stakeholders’ Conference on a 10 – year plan themed "Search of Sustainable Livestock Development and Peaceful Co-existence". That plan was launched at that conference in September. I am going to talk a bit about some of the issues that were raised at that conference.

This very important security summit is an important part of the on-going engagements with stakeholders on the security concerns of our nation.

I am extremely pleased and support fully the Senate President when he said the challenges of our security infrastructure are the concern of all of us and not just those of us in government but all of who are concerned about the peace and harmony of our nation.

Your Excellency, distinguished members of the National Assembly, Nigeria entered the New Year on a tragic and bloody note; 73 persons were murdered in Benue State by persons who were suspected to be herdsmen. To the North, in southern Kaduna, Kaduna State, a traditional ruler and his pregnant wife were murdered in their home. Down south, in Rivers, a cult murdered more than 20 innocent persons returning from a church vigil. On the 3rd of January, 14 worshippers were killed in a mosque at Gamboru, and on the 17th of January, a suicide bombing attack in Maiduguri claimed 10 lives.  

These incidents immediately served as a reminder that there is no room for complacency in the task of securing Nigeria, even against the backdrop of the remarkable progress we’ve recorded in the most critical of our security challenges at a time: the fight against Boko Haram.

Indeed, Boko Haram is a good starting point for a conversation about security in Nigeria as we go on to the more current and contemporary concerns we have. How a small band of religious proselytizers evolved into the biggest threat to the sovereignty of Nigeria in five decades is a question that has occupied and perhaps, even defied researchers and law enforcement agencies for years.

In 2015, when the Buhari administration took office, much of Northern Eastern Nigeria lay beneath the palpable shadow of the terrorist group. In the two and half years since then, our military has done a remarkable job, reclaiming Nigerian territory, rescuing tens of thousands of civilians, and routing Boko Haram. Today the group is a shadow of itself, forced to resort to cowardly suicide bombings and other attacks on soft targets in a desperate bid at attention-seeking.

Boko Haram was by no means the only security challenge we inherited when we took office in 2015. Cattle rustling, pronounced in the Northwest; clashes between farmers and herdsmen in the North Central region in particular and spreading out to other regions of Nigeria, militant activity in the South-south and parts of the Southwest, simmering ethnic agitation in the Southeast, and kidnapping across the entire country. There was also the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) in the Northwest, increasingly emboldened to challenge the authority of the State.

The scale and breadth of these security challenges, especially because they occurred in far flung locations in the country, profoundly tasked the nation’s security architecture. I want to say that because of the spread and diversity of these threats, the nation’s security architecture was stretched, engaging in several parts of the country and with the numbers that we have, that in itself posed a problem for tackling as robustly as possible, many of the challenges that we faced.

But we must say on behalf of the security agencies that they have been deliberate and determined in their responses. For obvious reasons, we have since assuming office, prioritized the anti-terrorism campaign in the Northeast.

Understandably, as Boko Haram has receded in the public consciousness – in the 2017 Global Terrorism Index reported that deaths from terrorism dropped 80 percent in Nigeria in 2016; the biggest decrease worldwide – other security challenges have shuffled forward to take the place of Boko Haram threats.

This does not mean that these challenges are newly-emergent. What is new, is our approach and determination to contain these threats and protect the lives and property of all Nigerians. This determination can mostly be seen in the way our security agents in particular have dealt with Boko Haram and several of the threats in parts of the country.

Over the last three years, some of Nigeria’s deadliest criminal kingpins have been arrested or killed. I think credit must go to the security agencies for this. Khalid al-Barnawi, head of the al-Qaeda linked Ansaru terror group, and one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, arrested in Kogi State in April 2016; kidnap kingpin Evans (arrested in Lagos State), Dracula (arrested in Delta), Vampire (arrested in Imo last year). One of the more recent ones is Don Waney, cultist and mastermind of the New Year’s Day attack in Rivers State, killed during a joint operation by the Military and the DSS at the end of 2017. We will not relent in our efforts to bring all of these criminals and others to justice.

Since the beginning of the year, following the massacre in Guma and Logo local governments in Benue, the issue of violence by suspected herdsmen has dominated national attention. And rightly so, as Mr. President himself said, “I am a soldier, I have seen death in warfare but the callous killing of innocent people especially women and children is cowardly and despicable in the extreme and it must prevented or stopped and the perpetrators must be punished”.

In his statement of commiseration to the Governor of Benue State Mr. President said and I quote “This is one attack too many, and everything must be done to provide security for the people in our rural communities, I have ordered the security agencies to find and capture the perpetrators, they must face justice.”

Anyone who has seen the viciousness of the killings, and the wantonness of the damage to property, is bound to be stupefied by the horror.  I was in in Dong village in Adamawa, where herdsmen had attacked the village and killed many. But the vicious killing of Fulani women and children in the same local government in Adamawa State is worthy of mention.

Let me preface this by saying that every Nigerian is entitled to adequate security from government for their lives and livelihoods, government may slip in that responsibility often but I must say never deliberately. Every killing demeans us as a people. Every killing undermines the authority of the State.

This is why the suggestion sometimes, that because President Buhari is Fulani he has ignored the killings by herdsmen is both untrue and unfair. In any event, herdsmen and farmer clashes resulting in deaths have been with us for at least two decades. And I have worked with him for three years now, and I do not know of any one issue that has given him more concern or on which he has spent more time with Security Chiefs as this particular issue.

What then is being done about security? The approach of the government has been to deploy mobile police forces to troubled areas and also both the army and airforce, the Nigerian Army formations and units in Benue State for example, especially 72 Special Forces Battalion, have consistently maintained Forward Operating Bases at the flash areas covering Guma, Logo, Katsina-Ala and Agatu Local Government Areas.

The operation has the generic name Operation MESA, but it is nicknamed Operation ZENDA in Benue State. The Army had within the last few days scaled up the size of troops and equipment in Agatu, Guma, Katsina-Ala and Logo Local Government Areas of Benue State.

The Army also recently deployed troops at Awe and Tunga Local Government Areas of Nasarawa State, in order to monitor and block the gaps that were presumed to be used as staging points by armed herdsmen to attack communities in Benue State.

Additionally, troops of 93 Battalion, Takum in Taraba State, also occupy blocking positions as well as maintain constant liaison with troops in Benue State.

Furthermore, the command and control structure of the Army formations and units in Benue and contiguous states have been reorganized.

Accordingly, more troops were deployed and the Commander 707 Special Forces Brigade was reassigned to Taraba State for effective command and control of troops operating in the entire Benue/Taraba general area. And next week, the Nigerian Army will flag-off Exercise AYEM AKPATUMA, to checkmate the activities of armed bandits and militias in Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa and environs.

Although generally the security forces, the entire infrastructure, have performed creditably given their resource constraints, the problem is that in some of the worst killings, security agents were simply not there in time. Whenever that happens as was the case in Logo, Guma, and Mambilla last year, the failure to protect the lives of the innocent is inexcusable, and we cannot rationalize or diminish that failure of our security apparatus of government in any way.

One direct consequence of the scaling up of military and police presence in these parts of the country most vulnerable to attacks by armed herdsmen and other such attacks, is the arrest and detention of hundreds of suspects. And it is in this vein that we will require not only the full investigation of these cases, but also the cooperation of the Judiciary, to enable the speedy dispensation of justice, so that those who have committed these heinous offences are brought to book and are seen to have been brought to book.

One thread running through all of the security challenges in Nigeria is the proliferation of light arms and small weapons. This age-old problem appears to have intensified in recent years on account of the fall of the Libyan Government under Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. These events unleashed large numbers of well-trained fighters, as well as the contents of Gaddafi’s armories.

Today, all across West Africa security and intelligence agencies are seeing the devastating impact of these mercenaries, and their arms and ammunition.

Complicating our situation in Nigeria, is the porous nature of our more than 4,000km of borders, which allows the easy flow of illegal weapons. To combat this, we are devoting increased resources to our Customs and Immigration agencies, as well as upgrading the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons into a well-resourced Commission for all of the movement of arms going back and forth through our borders.

Another issue worth taking into account is the ECOWAS Transhumance Protocol which Nigeria signed in 1998. This guarantees free movement to pastoralists, herders across the sub-region. As signatories to that Protocol, we are obliged not to restrict the movement of herders and their cattle from other ECOWAS countries.

This has added a further complication to the problems we already have, besides most foreign herdsmen are exposed to the firearms market noted earlier and are unknown to the local farming populace. What we are doing and must continue to do, is to ensure robust documentation of all entry and exit through our borders, and as we develop new methods of cattle breeding, we must get those coming through other countries to comply with the laws of Nigeria.

Because we know that the security solution is only one dimension of a multifaceted issue, we are also working with the State Governments and Local Communities. In January the Ministers of Interior and Agriculture, on behalf of the President, met with the affected State Governors, and Security and Intelligence Agencies, to discuss workable solutions.

The President and I have at various times this year held Stakeholder Meetings to bring all concerned parties to the table and discuss ways of ensuring peace and security.

On January 15, President Buhari met with Benue political, traditional and religious leaders. A week ago, I met with traditional leaders from the Batta and Bachama Communities of Adamawa State. I also met with Fulani groups, the Myetti Allah and several other such groups.

These meetings and consultations are crucial, human beings have not yet to my knowledge, developed another way of reaching understanding aside from dialogue.  There can and will be no lasting peace without dialogue, and that there can never be too much dialogue regarding a matter that involves the safety of the lives and property of Nigerians.

We are also mindful of the peacebuilding efforts of some State Governments. In Plateau State, for example, the Government constituted a Peace and Reconciliation Committee to work with the Berom and Fulani communities which had been at loggerheads for years.

The Government also went ahead to establish the Plateau State Peace Building Agency, the first of its kind by any State Government in Nigeria. Since its creation in 2016, the Agency has fulfilled its mandate of resolving conflicts and tackling the underlying causes and triggers. The results have been encouraging; Plateau State, once the hotbed of ethnic and communal violence in the North Central, has enjoyed a great deal of peace in the last two years.

While some tensions continue to flare up every now and then, there has been none of the high-intensity violence which we have seen in other States. In neighbouring Kaduna State, there have also been efforts to ensure lasting peace. In September 2017, the State Government inaugurated a Peace Commission under the Chairmanship of the Most Reverend Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary-General of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and founder of the Kaduna Center for the Study of Christian-Muslim Relations.

The Federal Government fully endorses these peacebuilding efforts, and will continue to give our support and assistance to State Governments in this regard.

We are also, with the collaboration of States, and the Governors of Benue, Plateau, Adamawa and along with seven other Governors, have constituted the working group which I chair, where they have been seeking to proffer solutions to some of the problems associated with farmer/herdsmen clashes, but in particular, how to ensure that there is a plan for cattle breeding and rearing which takes into account, contemporary methods of doing so in other parts of the world.

Also in collaboration with the States and other stakeholders, we have been developing solutions to the issues of resource scarcity which is at the heart of the conflicts - the increasing competition for grazing land and water heightened by climate change. All stakeholders agree that we must now develop new ideas to prevent clashes between herdsmen and farmers; in particular enabling the cows and herders to become more sedentary. It is obvious that the physical movement of cattle in an endless journey on the move, must now begin to take a different shape. We cannot afford it even from the economic perspective, there must be another way.

We believe when cattle is sedentary, it will improve the productivity of the cattle. Our beef cattle Sokoto Gudali adds 0.5 Kg per day while the Brahma in Brazil which is bred in a ranch adds 2.5kg per day. Our dairy cows produce 1 litre per day, whereas in other parts of Africa, there is production of almost 15 - 20 litres per day.

There is also a clear sense which I think must be appreciated, that the Federal government cannot dictate to States what to do with their land. This is so because the Land Use Act of 1978 puts land under the control of Governors on behalf of their States. Also, the Supreme Court in the case of Attorney General of Lagos State versus the Attorney General of the Federation in 2004, held that use of land resources and permits for such use, lie firmly in the hands of State Governments. Even for use of Federal lands in the States according to the Supreme Court, building or development control permit must be sought from the Governors of the States.

However in several States, especially in the North, there are duly gazetted grazing reserves. A majority of these grazing reserves are degraded and are without pasture or water especially in the dry season.

Grazing routes leading to these reserves, must also be secured. The grazing reserves to be effective and operate effectively, should operate as ranches or livestock production centres on a commercial basis.  The ranches will have adequate water from boreholes, salt points and pasture.

The locations would serve both as forage points, but also centres for providing extension services to boost animal care, feeding and veterinary facilities, and even abattoirs. Because the ranches are commercial ventures, cattle owners will pay for its use.

It is important to note that by and large, in consultation with stakeholders, all agree that where adequate provision is made on a commercial basis, there is no reason why there won’t be cooperation to use those ranches because there are both economic and social benefits for everyone, including herders.

Aside from States that have gazetted grazing areas, so far about 13 States have agreed to allocate 5,000 hectares of land for the ranching or livestock production. We must emphasis that in arriving at any of these decisions in the States, the States, Federal Government and all of the Stakeholders have to seat together and work out solutions that will benefit everyone. This cannot be done by fear or force, people have to work together to ensure that there is adequate consultations.

Let me reiterate, that on no account will any lands be seized or forcefully taken to create these ranches or grazing areas. All insinuations to that effect should be disregarded. No one is giving land to herdsmen, as is being falsely alleged. Instead, it is in our view that States that are willing and which have set aside land for development should cooperate with willing investors into commercially viable, government-supported ranches or livestock production centres for commercial use.

Let me close by summarizing some policy objectives that we need further work on, some of which will benefit from both Legislative and Judiciary cooperation.

The first is that the nature of our security challenges are complex and nuanced. Securing Nigeria’s over 923,768 square kilometers and its 180 million people, requires far more men and materials than we have at the moment. It also requires a continual re-engineering of our security architecture and strategies. This has to be a dynamic process. For a country our size to meet the 1 policeman to 400 persons UN prescribed ratio, would require nearly tripling our current police force, far more funding of the police, military and security agencies is required.

Secondly, we cannot realistically police a country the size of Nigeria centrally from Abuja.    State Police and other community policing methods are clearly the way to go.

Thirdly, we must intensify existing collaboration with our neighbours in the Chad Basin, especially border communities to prevent the movement of small arms, and disarming armed pastoralists and bandits who go through our borders day after day.

Lastly, we must avoid the dangers of allowing these conflicts to harden to religious or ethnic conflicts. This is the responsibility of political, religious and all other parts our leadership elite in Nigeria.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

It is now my special privilege to declare this very important summit open.

Released by:

Laolu Akande

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity

Office of the Vice President

February 8, 2018

My 10 Takeaways From Kadaria Ahmed’s Show on Herdsmen/Farmers Crisis:

Kadaria Ahmed again stamped her persona and brilliance as the anchor of her show, The Core, on Channels TV yesterday night. The panelists which comprised the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh and 3 other people ( a lecturer from the Bayero University Kano, a Police AIG and a female CSO activist ) offered valuable insights into what the real problems are. The panelists also offered solutions.

Members of the audience too, acquainted themselves well with their multi-disciplinary perspectives on the crisis. Kadaria was very firm and fair. She had total control of the show. Her firmness ensured the language of discourse was decent and civil without name-calling. For a LIVE National Television programme, Kadaria as the anchor put up a command performance.

These are my takeaways:

1. The 2-hour show was very educative and informative as most people who watched from homes and electronic devices would be better informed about the real issues and what should be the imperatives in seeking permanent solutions. Cattle Colony was better explained by Chief Ogbeh as a Cluster of Ranches beyond the pejorative biological and zoological meaning. In a crisis situation words acquire new meanings. Power of words!

2. Audu Ogbe is a very knowledgeable and hands on Minister of Agriculture. A repository of knowledge who, without doubt is doing a good job and being a man from Benue he offered pragmatic solutions. I pray the Governor of the state will play less politics with the crisis and allow solution.

3. It is almost true that it is in the DNA of a black man to live for only today. We leave problems to fester seeking only immediate solution without think of tomorrow and all its ramifications. From the show, Audu Ogbeh recalled that Uthman dan Fodio, over 200years ago warned about this same problem of herdsmen and farmers. 200 years after, we have not changed our practice of rearing cows from same antiquated method while in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, United States and many countries it is a multi-billion dollars industry using modern methods.

4. The Nigerian media does not know how to report conflicts and this was confirmed by Musikilu Mojeed, the Editor-in-Chief of Premium Times who reinforced same view. The media especially mainstream media like a typical Nigerian is also emotional and maintains one-way track on national issues and truth is always the victim when issues are blurred. In most cases, media blur issues in Nigeria for motives that are not ennobling and healthy for national development. Media accentuate crisis with reportage and oftentimes, the media reports ignore the nuances and the real issues on the altar of sensationalism. Nigerian media has refused to take the lessons on how media was the major enabler of the Rwanda Genocide. Red Cross, NEMA, NOA, DFID, UNDP and local CSOs with focus on governance and development should be organizing trainings on Conflict Reporting for Journalists. Universities can also run certificate programmes on Conflict Reporting for Journalists.

5. Social media is a force for good and evil in Nigeria like it has been all over the world. People without the foggiest idea on practicability of a policy/initiative will shoot it down and abuse those with expert knowledge. When Audu Ogbeh two years ago, said ranching is the best way to solve the herdsmen/farmers problem and Nigeria like other countries that have made success of animal husbandry, Nigeria must to import grass from Brazil, he was shouted down and called names.

6. Governor Ortom has not done well in dealing with the crisis. He is a profiteer of the crisis. He is simply using the crisis for political effect. His interview on the programme yesterday showed the Anti-Grazing and Ranching Provision Law he signed was targeted against herdsmen of Fulani ethnic stock. A law or a government policy should not target any ethnic and sub-ethnic group. A law that only gives 1 year lease on land is not a progressive law. A government wants herdsmen to do ranching, yet will only give 1 year lease that is renewable every year. Who will make an investment on ranches in Benue when the government can decide not to renew your lease the following year? A governor of a state is not as helpless on security matters if he decided to work with the existing security structure in the state like Governor Ortom makes it look. There is no Commissioner of Police, DSS Director or Civil Defence Commandant in a state who would not respond to a crisis situation or who would be instructed from Abuja to allow killings to continue. Governors in Lagos, Kogi, Ogun, Kaduna and other states that have experienced serious security breaches in their states have worked well with the same Federal security infrastructure available to them. When Ogun and Lagos States Governor needed the military to bomb Arepo and Ikorodu creeks they got President Buhari’s approval. The criminals that used Arepo and Ikorodu creeks as base were taken out by the air force.

7. The security problems involving herdsmen/Farmers in Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba, Zamfara do not have same colouration of Fulani attacking and killing farmers as being reported by the media. The herdsmen are also victims of armed local militia, rustlers, political and business elite.

8. The crisis will fester until government at all levels- Federal, States and LGAs have same singular and clear agenda to really solve it. The solutions are more with the States and Local governments than the Federal. It is LGAs that collect levies from cattle herdsmen and the law vests land with the state governors. One wonders why States and LGAs cannot take advantage of an economic activity with huge revenue potentials and maximize it to create jobs.

9. Cattle rearing should be seen as a serious economic activity that requires government support like other economic activities that government supports through fiscal regimes and other interventions.

10. Religious/Ethnic conspiracy theories should be taken out of the problem. The criminal elements causing trouble on both sides should be apprehended. Government must bring to bear all the terror machines of state to stamp out killers of Nigerians living in Benue or any part of the country. Those already arrested should be prosecuted. Social justice must be done, if for anything, for the memory of the dead victims and to assuage the pains of the living.

* Temitope Ajayi.*


 Bunmi Awoyemi Divinewealth.

Chief Okoi Obono-Obla-led Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property has seized 86 cars, houses:charges civil servant, North-East presidential committee for corrupt practices

The Federal Government on Thursday arraigned a federal civil servant, Mr. Ibrahim Tumsah and his brother, Mr. Tijani Tumsah, before the Federal High Court in Abuja with failure to declare their assets to the Chief Okoi Obono-Obla-led Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property.

Ibrahim is the  Director of Finance and Account in the Federal Ministry of Power, Works, and Housing, while his brother, Tijani, is a member of the Presidential Committee on North East Initiative and a former Interim National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress.

The Federal Government had on January 18, 2018 filed a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CR/4/2018 containing two counts of failure of the defendants to declare  their assets “without reasonable excuse and upon the notice to declare” them before the panel.

Earlier on December 6, 2017, Justice Muawiyah Idris of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Apo, Abuja, had ordered hat 86 luxury vehicles together with four houses and a quarry plant in Abuja, all of which the panel allegedly seized from the two defendants.

The PUNCH had exclusively reported that the seized 86 vehicles, 23 of which were said to be armoured, were brand new.

 The court’s forfeiture orders also affected four houses, two of which were located in Wuse II, one in Wuse Zone 7, and the other in Jabi, all in Abuja.

The two brothers pleaded not guilty to the two counts when read to them before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday.

The offences were said to be contrary to and punishable under section 3(3)(1)(a) of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provision) Act 2004.

Their lawyers, Abdul Mohammed (for Ibrahim) and Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN)  (for Tijani), applied for their clients’ bail.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN), did not oppose the bail application.

The judge subsequently granted bail to the two defendants by adopting the bail conditions agreed upon by the prosecution and the defence.

Part of the conditions was a bail sum of N20m."

Source: Punch.


Your Excellency,


We, the representatives of the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria, bring you our cordial greetings and blessings. We desired this meeting, in order to continue the dialogue we initiated with you even before your election as President. We therefore thank you for granting us this audience, which affords us the opportunity to share with you, once again, our thoughts and concerns on some issues affecting our dear country, Nigeria.

 First, we thank God for bringing you back to us healthier and stronger after a period of ill health. We hope and pray that you continue to make progress on the way to full recovery, in order to be able to face the enormous challenges emanating from your exalted office.

 Your Excellency, needless to say that, as President, you are the Father of our dear country Nigeria. It is therefore pertinent that as loyal citizens as well as informed members of the society we come to you from time to time to express not only our willing cooperation with the government in working for the progress of our country, but also to share with you the feelings of the multitude of Nigerians at this moment. We work with the people at the grassroots and, therefore, have first-hand information about what they are going through.

There is no doubt that when you came into office, you had an enormous amount of the goodwill of Nigerians, since many saw you as a person of integrity who would be able to bring sanity into a system that was nearly crippled by endemic corruption. Nearly three years later, however, one has the feeling that this good will is being fast depleted by some glaring failures of government which we have the moral duty to bring to your notice, else we would be failing in our duty as spiritual fathers and leaders.

*Our Concerns*

Your Excellency, there is too much suffering in the country: poverty, hunger, joblessness, insecurity, violence, fear… the list is endless. Our beloved country appears to be under siege. Many negative forces seem to be keeping a stranglehold on the population, especially the weaker and defenseless ones. There is a feeling of hopelessness across the country. Our youths are restive and many of them have taken to hard drugs, cultism and other forms of violent crime, while many have become victims of human trafficking. The Nation is nervous.

 Just as we seem to be gradually emerging from the dark tunnel of an economic recession that caused untold hardship to families and individuals, violent attacks by unscrupulous persons, among whom are terrorists masquerading as herdsmen, have led to a near civil war situation in many parts of the country. We are saddened that repeatedly innocent citizens in different communities across the nation are brutally attacked and their sources of livelihood mindlessly destroyed. Property, worth billions of Naira, including places of worship, schools, hospitals and business enterprises are torched and turned to ashes. We are still more saddened by the recent massacre of unarmed citizens by these terrorists in some communities in Benue, Adamawa, Kaduna and Taraba States which has caused national shock, grief and outcry. What is even more distressful is that the government, whose responsibility it is to protect the life and property of every citizen seems either incapable or unwilling to do this. The silence of the federal government in the wake of these horrifying attacks is, to say the least, shocking. There is a feeling of helplessness among the people and the danger that some people may begin to take laws into their hands.

We therefore earnestly urge the government to take very seriously its primary responsibility of protecting the lives and property of its citizens and ensure that such mindless killings do not reoccur. Herdsmen may be under pressure to save their livestock and economy but this is never to be done at the expense of other people’s lives and means of livelihood. We would like to add our voice to those of other well-meaning Nigerians who insist that a better alternative to open grazing should be sought rather than introducing “cattle colonies” in the country. While thinking of how best to help cattle owners establish ranches, government should equally have plans to help the other farmers whose produce is essential for our survival as a nation.

In a similar vein, daredevil kidnappers, who at present are having a field day, with a feeling of invincibility, must be made to understand that there is a government in this country. Government should invest more in equipping our Police Force with modern high-tech devices that will help them track down and arrest these criminals and make them face the wrath of the law.

The Federal Character Principle is enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria:“_The government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies_” (Section 14, Sub-section 3-4). Disregard for this Principle in some federal government appointments as well as perceptible imbalance in the distribution of federal amenities has created the loss of a sense of belonging in many parts of the country, hence the constant cries of marginalization, agitation for secession and calls for restructuring.

*Conclusion and Assurance of Prayers*

Our Church has always complemented the efforts of government in such areas as providing quality education and primary health care services to our people. We shall continue to support the effort of the government in nation-building. As the voice of the voiceless, we shall therfore continue to highlight the plight of our people and play our prophetic role of sensitizing the government, thus promoting national unity and cohesion. As we encourage you to spare no effort to build a new Nigeria, we reassure you of our support and prayers for your success.  On the long run,Government under your watch must do all in its power through good policies to restore confidence that government is for all and sundry. Our collective efforts must be seen in the desire to return to the fine principles of democracy such as true federalism, negotiation and consensus building as means of achieving a more equitable distribution of the resources of our country.

Thank you, Your Excellency, for the audience and may God bless you.

*Most Rev. Dr. Ignatius Ayau Kaigama*
Archbishop of Jos President, CBCN

*Most Rev. Dr. William Avenya*
Bishop of Gboko
Secretary, CBCN