Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu yesterday frowned on incessant herdsmen attacks in Igbo land and other parts of the country by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
He advised the affected states to pass legislations that would restrict cattle rearing to modern ranches. The senator also suggested the setting up of forest rangers to enforce such laws.
A statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Uche Anichukwu, said Ekweremadu noted that unless Nigeria was restructured to make it more efficient and productive, it would be difficult for the country to wriggle out of its security challenges, pervasive poverty and retarded growth.
The deputy senate president said successive leaders would only be dealing with the symptoms and not the root causes of a festering illness.
The statement said Ekweremadu spoke at the weekend in New York, the United States of America (U.S.A), during this year’s Convention of the World Igbo Congress (WIC).
The senator noted that while the country awaited the much-needed restructuring, the incessant havoc by suspected Fulani herdsmen was unacceptable because it had monumental socio-economic consequences on the nation.
He hailed various state governments for managing the humanitarian crisis resulting from the attacks and for ensuring that there was no breakdown of law and order.
Ekweremadu said every legitimate step should be taken to end the herdsmen menace and avoid a situation where the people would resort to self-help.
He said: “Governments of the various states in Igbo land and indeed other parts of the country should immediately consider enacting legislations that confine cattle-rearing to modern ranches, as obtainable in developed societies.
“In fact, our governments could go a step further to invest in constructing and leasing out modern ranches.
“This will produce healthier animals, give better produce, provide employment, added value to the farm produce and help in promoting peaceful co-existence as well as sifting armed bandits and terrorists from real farmers doing legitimate business.”
Ekweremadu warned that the enforcement of such measures should not be left to federal security agencies alone.
He said: “Sadly, when you enact laws to checkmate the menace, as Ekiti State has commendably done, you will still rely on the same security institutions to enforce them. This is the dilemma.
“Therefore, our state governments should take further steps by ensuring that such legislations provide for enforcement bodies, such as Forest Rangers, which will consistently comb the forests to ensure that those who run foul of the laws are arrested and speedily prosecuted to serve as deterrent to others.”
The deputy Senate president regretted that “successive military regimes reneged on the core ingredients of a federal structure agreed upon by our founding fathers at various constitutional conferences leading up to independence, as the basis of the Nigerian union”.
He added: “Over the years, we have moved from a strong and viable three-regional federal structure to a weak, spendthrift and unwieldy 36-state structure. We moved from a decentralised police system that allowed the federating units to take greater charge of security of life and property in their territories to a centralised police system in which one man at the centre pretends to be in full charge of security of lives and property in the creeks of the Niger Delta, the cocoa farms of the Southwest, the expansive land mass of the North and the hinterlands of the Southeast.
“We also moved from fiscal federalism, which encouraged productivity and competitive development to a feeding bottle federalism that runs on free oil money, encouraging indolence, corruption and lack of creativity in governance.
“Now, you can see why the cost of governance is so high; why states can no longer pay salaries; why neither the Federal Government nor the federating units cared to invest, but lived off their allocations like lottery proceeds over the years; why it is difficult for a state governor to sack rampaging suspected herdsmen and why those who have the authority to call the security agencies to action to stop the menace may not be quick in their response.”
Ekweremadu urged the Ndigbo in the Diaspora to join the current debate on Nigeria’s restructuring because “it is at the heart of the forward-movement”.
The senator regretted that efforts and calls to restructure the country had always fallen on deaf ears because some people felt favoured by the current arrangement.
He insisted that the message should be continually passed that “he who pins another to the floor is also detaining himself”.
Ekweremadu said: “With good faith and realistic restructuring, every part of Nigeria, Igbo land inclusive, will explode in prosperity, the expected initial challenges notwithstanding. The good thing is that we can set a timeline and adopt an incremental approach to allay unfounded fears and misgivings that have held us down.”