FEATURE ARTICLE

Thursday, July 5, 2018
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THE WOUNDED MILLIPEDE

ongman's Dictionary of Contemporary English defines Millipede as "a long thin insect with a lot of legs." I am not sure anyone has taken time to count the number of legs the millipede has due to their tininess. Can you volunteer to count its legs and report back to me soonest for a handsome reward? Since this insect has legs, then it walks but slowly. I think those who manufactured the train copied from the structure of the millipede and its movement. The train has many legs and coaches. The millipede also has ring coaches. The difference is that the train with its locomotive engine moves faster. If the millipede meets any obstacle along its way or being threatened, it encircles itself in self defense.

Many people abhor the millipede even by touching. For most people, millipede is not edible. Only a very few people consume it as meat. They say that it is very sweet. It can be eaten fried or cooked. Those who use it to cook soup use two hands at table. One holds the stiff ringed meat with the left hand and dips fou-fou in soup with the right hand. As you swallow the fou-fou, you bite off some parts of the millipede meat as you want. They say that the white stuff inside it tastes like egg. A trial will convince you. Taste and see!

As I was driving through a remote village recently, I saw a beautiful young lady jumping up and crying. Since life is a primary value, I stopped abruptly to ascertain what was wrong with her and to do the needful. I was ready to take her to the nearest hospital for medical attention. Coming close to her I asked, "Young lady, what is wrong with you? Were you bitten by a snake?" She wiped her tears and replied, "No, father. I marched on that stupid millipede." She pointed it to me. I saw the wounded millipede wreathing in pains because she marched on it with her high heel iron shoes. Since the wounded millipede could not talk to tell me what happened to it, I waved a consoling hand at it. I would have taken the wounded millipede to a veterinary hospital but there was none around. Therefore I left it to its fate.

I turned to the young lady and asked, "Why are you crying? The millipede you wounded with your iron shoes is not crying and you are here crying. What a nonsensical nonsense!" I remember my Ghanaian friend who has lived in Igbo land for many years. He also married an Igbo woman. His pet name is "Esu-a-zoro-okpa." Millipede is generally known in Igbo as 'Esu.' If you call the man "Esu a zoro okpa" he would reply, "Esu ebeghi akwa o buru onye zoro ya okpa na-ebe akwa." This literally means: "The wounded millipede did not cry, whereas the aggressor is crying." What a sad situation! Our society is full of unjust aggressors and wounded millipedes. Are you the unjust aggressor or wounded millipede?

For some years now, the Fulani herdsmen have been destroying people's farms under the guise of feeding their cows. If the farmers complain, the herdsmen would shoot them dead with Ak-47. These bloody clashes have sent hundreds of innocent Nigerians to their untimely graves. Unfortunately, the Federal Government has not done much to curtail the bloody attack. The death toll is more on the side of the farmers. Hundreds of innocent persons have been murdered by the Fulani herdsmen. The bloody attack has gone inside the church. It is still fresh in our minds the gruesome murder of two Catholic priests and seventeen worshippers inside a church in Benue state by the Fulani herdsmen. Do the cows also graze inside the church where there are no grasses? No wonder many see the bloody attack as genocide mostly targeted against the Christian population in the Middle belt. Because of the bloody attack, destruction of houses and fear of possible attacks, thousands of people have fled their homes and are presently languishing in internally displaced persons' camps in Benue and Nasarawa states. In the IDP camps, there are insufficient basic amenities. Ninety percent of the population there are farmers who no longer go to their farms. Regrettably their children do not go to school any more.

As things stand, there is no certainty when the displaced persons will be going back to their homes, farms and schools. The presence of soldiers, policemen and other security personnel in the affected areas is of little value. Often they seem to look away during the bloody attacks. They are often accused of aiding the dreaded Fulani attackers. How many of the unjust attackers have been arrested and prosecuted? Who arms them? Why is the life of cows valued more than human life? Since the farmers no longer go to their farms, famine is imminent.

It is very unfortunate that the marauding attackers have not been dealt with seriously by President Buhari-led Federal Government. Instead the aggressors seem to be protected over the oppressed. In Adamawa state, five Christian youths were recently sentenced to death for allegedly killing a herdsman in self defense. It is unfortunate. The wounded did not cry while the aggressor is crying. The death sentence is a miscarriage of justice. How many of the bloody herdsmen have been arrested, tried and sentenced to prison or to death? The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Human Right Organization have raised alarm over the unjust death sentence. Self defense is a human right. When one is unjustly attacked, he ought to defend himself by all possible means. Equity demands that the Federal Government should as a matter of urgency cancel or commute the death sentence hung over the five Christians. The alleged Islamization agenda of the current President seems to be true, until the contrary is proved.

Instead of finding an equitable way of dealing with the herders'/farmers' bloody clashes, the Minister of Defense Abdulrahman Damabazu recently called for the abolition of Anti-Open Grazing Laws passed by some states of the Federal. It is a one sided solution. Is he the spokesman of the Fulani attackers?

The Federal Government should be fair and just in the handling of the herdsmen/farmers' clashes. The farmers have right to plant their crops and harvest them without being molested by the herders. On the other hand, the herders have right to feed their cows in modern method that does not interfere with the right of others; hence the clamour for ranching. Cattle-rearing is a private business. Therefore the effort by the Federal Government to set up and finance cattle colony, ranches or Water Resource control to benefit only the herdsmen is unjust. The Federal Government has planned to build and finance about 86 ranches in ten states of the federation. What effort is the Federal Government making to resettle the thousands of people in IDP camps in the Middle Belt? If the Federal Government builds ranches for the herdsmen with the nation's money, then she must also provide lands for farmers, shops for businessmen, houses for the citizens, vehicles for commercial drivers, etc. What is good for the goose is equally good for the gander. What is good for the pregnant woman is also good for her husband. If you wish to settle a dispute, then you must hear from both sides. Justice demands Equity.


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