Open Grazing And Motor Parts Sales: Before You Crucify Malami

By Onwuasoanya Jones

I do not think that Nigeria as a country owns any single cow anywhere in the country, and if they do, it could just be just on paper and nowhere else. It is therefore disgusting that everyday, the President of our country and his aides would harangue us with tales about how cattle business must be protected, as if the Federation owns a better stake in cattle business than in any other tax paying private venture. It is even possible that cattle farmers don’t pay any tax to the country. If we therefore must compare cattle rearing with motor spare parts dealers, the latter are definitely more useful to the country than cattle farmers, because an average Igbo businessman regularly pays his tax wherever he is, but majority of those who are into cattle rearing hardly pay any tax. The cattle rearer easily accesses federal and State government facilities, which they rarely repay, but the motor parts dealer is mostly a self-made businessman who rarely gets any form of support from the government to grow his business.

That it surprises people that the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice could openly compare trespassing aggressors like Fulani herdsmen to motor parts dealers in Kano or any other part of Nigeria shows that more than a lot of us still hold some optimism towards Nigeria, hence, our proclivity to giving too much credit to individuals in government. Anger is mostly a reaction to disappointment and I think Malami like Garba Shehu does not disappoint, they are being true to their characters and trainings. So, why should anyone waste his anger on any of them?

Abubakar Malami has over the last six years as Minister of Justice left very few people in doubt about his incompetence for the very high position he occupied, and his type, who might not have met the cutoff to be admitted to any law faculty in the South, have come to celebrate mediocrity as an acceptable culture, because, they have mostly flown on the wings of nepotism to whatever positions and titles they parade.

It should have been commonsensical to understand that while the Igbo motor parts dealer in Kano pays for the shop where he displays his goods and pays other necessary and sometimes extortionate levies to government and the communities where they do their business, the average Fulani herder is an irritant trespasser who neither pays levies nor pays rent to anyone, while moving their cattle from one place to the other. And, the Southern governors haven’t said that these herders should stop carrying out their businesses in the South, but that they should stop grazing their cattle in a way that disturbs public peace and harms the business of other people.

Open grazing is a national security threat which any reasonable President would have taken seriously. If we were a nation that is serious with data keeping, we would be shocked at the damage in economy and lives that open grazing is directly responsible for. Open grazing would have cost billions of Naira destroyed by cows who stray into people’s farms and destroy their farm products and thousands of innocent lives have been lost to clashes between farmers who protest against the destruction of their farms by these cows and the recalcitrant, trespassing and irritable herders. Can Malami and other shameless advocates of open grazing tell us where the Igbo motor parts dealer has ever disturbed the business of another person or contributed to the loss of a single life in the course of doing their business? 

 Mr. Abubakar by that statement on national TV has cleared every doubt that his IQ could be less than that of a reasonable Primary School pupil, because it doesn’t take too much schooling to appreciate the line between these trades. He spoke according to his acumen and instead of blaming the lucky child whose chi has benevolently cracked some fine coconuts for, we should blame those who had the opportunity of studying Buhari’s trajectory over his years in the military, up to his time as the military head of State and still went ahead to market him to us as our best option for presidency in 2015. No other President could have appointed a Malami, who doesn’t know the difference between private business ownership and public or government owned enterprises, as a Personal Assistant to the lowest ranking cabinet member, talk less of considering such a dangerously ignorant character as the Chief Law Officer of Africa’s largest federation. I would have suggested that we rather vent our anger on Buhari, but the man from Daura prides in his insouciance on national affairs.

Like many people in Buhari’s cabinet, Malami is an example of whom a chief executive of a federal government ministry shouldn’t be. With such betrayal of dangerous ignorance one can imagine the extent of decadence in our ministry of justice in these last six years. A man who doesn’t know that a cattle rearer is as much a private farmer as the yam or cassava farmer in Benue is certainly a misfit to be the Chief Law officer of the Federation. But that’s the fate we are foisted with and no one can say, for how long.

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