By Nosa Omorodion
The federal government’s announcement that Edo State is among the ten states where it will begin the implementation of its controversial cattle colony or ranch project has been greeted with serious condemnation by Edo people. The object of the fury has been the State Governor, Godwin Obaseki who is believed to have betrayed the people for selfish interest, unmindful of the genuine fears expressed against the establishment of permanent territories for Fulani people, presumably for cattle rearing.
The anger is against the backdrop of the notoriety of the Fulani militia who for imperialist reasons have been all over the place sacking their host communities and killing people in the hundreds. The fear is reinforced by the fact that the Buhari led federal government, which is pushing for the colonies, is seen to be somehow complicit in the operations of this group. To date, none of these terrorists has been arrested by the security forces or prosecuted by government. Rather than taking a decisive action, the federal government and the federal security forces have been making all kinds of excuses that have served to justify the mass murders and genocidal onslaughts and to insulate the primary aggressors – Fulani from legal condemnation and apprehension.
Virtually all Edo people, including his party men and women, have roundly condemned Governor Obaseki for contemplating the idea of allowing the federal government to bring colonies of the deadly and ambitious Fulani into Edo State.
The State Governor in a statement has however tried to douse tension occasioned by the speculation. While the statement may have achieved the purpose of the state government, it did not address the question and fear raised by Edo people. Instead of answering in simple language, the governor obviously resorted to sophistry.
Whereas the governor tried to skew the narrative to say that he has ceded land, as of today, nobody has actually said that the governor has given Edo land to the federal government. The valid allegation is that the Governor has an understanding with the federal government to give out large parcels of land in Edo State for onward transfer to the feared Fulani cattle breeders. Rather than saying whether the state government intends to give out land as accused or not, the governor deliberately chose to say that the state government HAS NOT ceded any part of Edo State to anybody. By saying that it has not ceded land, the governor has only implied that it is yet to do it. That does not infer that he will not do it. Therefore, the fear is real that the governor may do it.
It is widely believed that the cattle colony deal was part of the negotiation with the APC federal government to give absolute backing to former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole for the position of the APC National Chairman.
It is a well-known fact that Adams Oshiomhole is the godfather of Governor Godwin Obaseki, the State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu and the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie. It is also believed that there is nothing the trio would not sacrifice in the interest of the former labour leader and governor, to whom they owe their lavish political success and fortune.
In the present circumstance, it would have sufficed for the state governor to have said that Edo State has no intention of giving territory for the controversial federal government project. This is what courageous governors like Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti and Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue have said to put the minds of their people at rest.
There is no need to attempt to deceive Edo people while in the same breadth sending a message to the federal government that Edo is ready to do business as clandestinely determined.
That is precisely the implication of Edo State Governor saying that Edo State Government, even though has not ceded land, was however willing to give land to private investors sponsored by the federal government. Is that not what the federal government intends to do in Edo State but which the people are opposed to?
Edo people have not said that they are opposed to individuals buying land and using it for rearing cattle. What they are saying is that they do not want an arrangement whereby the federal government would acquire land designated as federal government territory, for the use of a particular tribe which undying ambition is, to colonize wherever in Nigeria they are given a foothold.
Edo people are afraid of these people fixated on carrying out their ethnic and religious domination through Islamic and political jihads.
Edo people, in the meantime, have arrived at a consensus that they object to Godwin Obaseki or Edo State Government giving out any part of Edo land to the federal government, under whatever name or guise for the use of the suspicious and controversial Fulani cattle colony.
Obviously, the Edo State Government, nay the State Governor has reacted to the critical opposition to the plan of a cattle colony or federal government sponsored ranch.
They have however, not spoken to Edo people in plain language the unalloyed truth. The truth is to state unequivocally whether the Edo State Government INTENDS TO cede land for the controversial federal government sponsored project? The issue is not whether it has been done or not; it is whether it will be done or not.