#Think Along With Me

The earth is the Lord’s

By Bayo Fasunwon


In the history of men, the basic struggles and strifes, have been over lands. Land is one of the factors of production and much more important, for without it, capital, labour and the entrepreneur become useless and inefficient. Thus, the quest for territories had pitched Israel against her Arabian step brothers for a long time. The various wars over the control of the Suez Canal, a liquid land has kept Egypt chapters in European histories. Closer home, we find the battles of Tongibi, the Eritrea wars, and the Mfecane orchestrated by Chaka the Zulu as unpalatable stories bequeathed to man, on the altar of land grabbing, protection and cultivation.
Land became valuable; being the first of God’s pronounced creation. So, the land appeared and man was given the commandment to cultivate, subdue and replenish it. It was not just an inheritance, it was also an assignment. This assignment has however pitched men against one another, and made enemies of neighbours. Truly, the Earth is the Lord’s but to men portions have been assigned.
In the days gone by, issues have arisen in the Southwest that questions the right to control apportioned landmass. In Oyo State, Sunday Igboho, possibly peeved by the brazen acts of terrorism against his siblings, and the advancement of bandits into the Old Oyo Kingdom felt it wise to issue ultimatum against the perceived harbingers of evil on his father’s land. One may be correct to say that he was surprised at the silence and acts of perceived cowardice of the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland in the face of imminent ‘invasion’ of the Oke Ogun area. Could it be that the current Aare had gone the way of Aare Afonja? Sunday could not tell. So like Okonkwo of the ‘Things Fall Apart’, beheading the warrant chiefs seems the best options, but the representative of the Governor-General, Governor Seyi Makinde would not tolerate the latter’s battle strategy in a place governed by a contested constitution foisted on the people. While Sunday seeks to protect his inherited land, the Governor seeks to protect the fundamental human rights of the inhabitants of the land.
In Ondo State, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu had been in mourning since the election ended. Every month announced the brutal elimination of prominent sons of the soil. Unable to weep no more, and feeling no longer at ease, a decision to remove unregistered and unlawful elements from the forest reserves of the State became expedient and non negotiable. The decision could have been derived from the Federal Government’s strategy of dislodging the vampire Boko Haram forces from the Sambisa forests by the show of force. Same was also adopted to remove the ravaging bandits from the Katsina and Benue forests. In these cases, blood had been shed and lives had been lost. But Arakunrin wants no deliberate blood shedding nor the release of stray bullets by the State’s Amotekun as was being witnessed in Oyo. With an Olive branch, and within the powers derived from the constitution, a State of emergency had been declared in the forest reserves, and the quit notice given to unlawful users of the land. By this, it is expected that even the wolves amongst the sheep would follow the shepherds out of the now forbidden land. After the expiration of the quit notice, then whatever the eyes of the dead see in the grave should be blamed on death.
The question arises as to whether these men have the powers to protect their lands against terrorist incursions, and or possess the legal authority to protect their people from further mourning. Travelling through the length and breadth of Nigeria, yours truly made some observations. In the North, Churches (except in rare cases) are not allowed to exist in the centre of the town. Often times, they are restricted to the outskirts of the town or village. One wonders if these do not also have the right to exist in any part of the State, as desired. In order to protect the people from contamination and provocation to crime, Governors give orders that lead to the confiscation and destruction of alcoholic drinks. Recently, hotels and social meeting points were demolished in order to protect the land from social pollution. The Presidency was blind to these destruction of livelihoods and the breach of the constitutional fundamental human rights of the citizens. In the East, lands are priced possessions that rarely get into the hands of fellow Nigerians who are not indigenes of the State.
Every misconception about the orders given to protect citizens against armed bandits who disguise as meat merchants boils down to the defective constitution that governs the country. That document that proposes a Federal system of government, but prescribes a unitary behavioral template remains the problem of this nation. The constitution in all its provisions could not even define in clear terms who a Nigerian is, who an indigene is, who a settler is, and of course who owns the land in true terms. A constitution that makes the President more powerful than institutions and the custodians of the Federating units paves the way for lawlessness and abuse of opportunities. The tone of the constitution is that Governors should keep mute and watch as their people who elected them into office are being kidnapped, molested, cheated and killed in their father’s backyard. That is not Federalism, neither does it depict that a nation is one. Rather it signifies a subtle policy of genocide against the majority, by a small group who happen to have powerful backings.
Truth be told, anything done to protect the lives and property of law abiding citizens in a political system is just and fair. This is even true when the centre had shown consistent incapability at rescuing the saints from the hands of the predators who eat the flesh and drink the blood of the innocent. The Earth belongs to God, but He has given it to certain people to act as custodians of it and all that are in it. Any leader who folds his hands, and allows settlers to destroy the indigenes has not only failed in his duty, but has also sinned against God and humanity. When Ayo Fayose stood his ground in Ekiti, the cows and owners obeyed. It is high time we all rise and protect the little portion that God has given to us. The Jews do not sell lands, neither do they relinquish a little to an adversary. Every territory has its laws, which tenants and foreigners must either conform to or leave. We are all Nigerians, but different forms and documents show that we are indigenes of certain areas. Local primordial attachment in Nigeria which takes preeminence over being a national indigene reiterates that our lands do not exceed our primordial ancestral bestowments. Therefore, let the real primary indigenes to whom God bestowed ownership of the land determine who gets what, when and how. That is the beginning and the inalienable need for restructuring.

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