All men are equal…
If I had been around about 70 years ago when George Orwell wrote the Animal Farm, I would have advised him to title it: The change that was not! Most of us know about George Orwell’s animals and their utopian farm and so, a brief review would do. It was all about a grand plan by animals to do away with parasitic humans and manage their farm for their own benefit and thus creating a world that would be better in all dimensions. They succeeded in taking over the ownership and management of the farm based on seven inviolable principles bordering on their distinctiveness, hatred for everything human, and equality of all. However, things got worse rather than better as a new set of overlords emerged from amongst them, subjected them to overbearing dictatorship, denied them of their liberty and left them hungry, angry, sad, pauperized and voiceless and eventually discarded all the sacred principles of the revolution. The animal farm was charaterised by the following figures and realities: Squealer was the minister of information; propaganda, confusion and the only truth from him may probably be his name (did I mention anybody’s name?). His area of expertise were rumour mongering, creating something out of nothing and deliberate obfuscation of the truth,. Scapegoatism was elevated to a fundamental policy of state and everything was blamed on Snowball decades after he had left the farm. There was hero worshipping in which Napoleon awarded all honours to himself, where everything was due to his ingenuity and he was supported by attack-dogs enforcing government policies which made it impossible to say truth to power. Meetings and discussions were banned; the ignorance and gullibility of the people were manipulated and the government went back to policies, which it had stoutly resisted, and there was a mischievous deconstruction of the past
Another key issue in the farm was the manipulation of all the rules to suit the desires of the selfish leadership. Thus, to the principle ‘that no animal shall kill another’ was added without a reason; and to the other that ‘animal shall not sleep in beds’ was added with bedsheets and so on. But the last straw that broke the camel’s back was when their fundamental principle that all animals are equal was modified to read all animals are equal but some are more equal than the other. That was the end of the farm as it was designed. The utopian Eldorado ended and that was the end of the book. I have read the Animal farm several times and every time I read it, I got more and more in love with it, especially with the writer’s ability to see and create the future.
At his inauguration two years ago, PMB made one resounding statement, which was the only quotable quote from that ceremony: I belong to nobody and I belong to everybody. I interpreted that statement to be the equivalent to the all animals are equal declaration in the animal farm and I expected that the era of the brazen lopsided actions, policies and programmes was over. I had thought that our dear president had repented from his days at PTF, when the North, and particularly his political zone, had 70-100 per cent of most of the projects, supervised by consultants chosen because of relationships. Two years down the line, I do not believe so again.
Let’s start from two recent related events that were treated differently by the government, which belongs to no one. The Islamic Movement of Nigeria has been boldly protesting the continued detention of their leader (El Zakzaky) for the past 17 months. They also protested last week and all was well; nothing happened. IPOB also protested the same last week and hell was let loose as truckloads of them were arrested across the country. Is the freedom of assembly and expression of opinion for all of us or is it for some of us? I started from there because this is something that just happened. Everybody is aware of the lopsided nature of PMBs security and strategic appointments since 2015 and the constitution of his kitchen cabinet where the national dishes are prepared and shared. This time, it was not just a Northern affair, it was not even a Kastina affair; it was about Daura and all sorts of blood relationships.
Of course, it was misleading for our president to claim that he belonged (s) to no one when he is the grand-patron of the Myetti-Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria. I believe that he is even a member (directly or by proxy) because the key asset he declared were cattle. That is why in the past two years, there has been a declaration, more in action than words, that cows are more important than humans in Nigeria and that the breeders have power of life and death over other Nigerians. One only needs to go through the news to see how herdsmen brazenly wreck havoc in the South, East and West and non-core North (Benue et al). All we have heard are very funny stories including that the herdsmen terrorists are foreign invaders, how an offence against any Fulani is a debt that must be repaid, and how some of them were sought outside our shores and paid/begged to kill no more. Whether it was in Agatu or Nimbo, the security outfits just acted as if nothing happened and our PMB who belonged to everybody could not utter any word though he would quickly commiserate with other Nations even when two chickens died in a road accident!
When it comes to cattle hustlers, the case is different. The action is decisive and clinical and yet we are told that all men are equal. The other day, the Niger police command recovered 28 cows from Kamache Village forest and on. On 4/5/17, Justice Majebi ofKogi High Court sentenced two murderous cattle rustlers (Jauro and Sanni), to death by hanging. That was good enough but how many herdsmen have been arrested and tried, not to think of being punished? What you see is a rather a very laughable situation in which Benue State CP, Bashir Makama, who watched while Fulani terrorists masquerading as herdsmen turned Benue people into refugees in their own land, had the boldness to declare that the governor Samuel Ortom could not banish Fulani herdsmen from the state, and that was just after another bout of herdsmen brutality in a state where herdsmen now control 12 of the 23 LGAs.
Sometimes ago, Okorocha’s convoy was blocked in the heart of Owerri (7/5/16) by a band of herdsmen and their priceless cattle. You know what would have happened if it were ordinary civilians that blocked that road. Not long ago, soldiers killed a pupil while trying to rescue some herdsmen in Benue State. On 10/5/17, herdsmen attacked travelers on the Abuja-Keffi expressway and the following day, four policemen were killed by the same Fulani herdsmen in Abraka, in Delta State. Our people say that the person oppressing a widow does so boldly because he knows where the husband has gone and that a person sent to steal by his father does so with all boldness. The herdsmen are behaving with the impudence of a person dealing with the widow or the son stealing with his fathers backing!
But even if we leave the herdsmen out of this nauseating equation, there are thousand and one variables forcing us to wonder whether indeed all Nigerians are equal. In the last police recruitment, Kano State had a haul of 396 constables while Bayelsa was lucky to get 72; the same Bayelsa that despite the extant provisions has only seven LGAs. In the last DSS recruitment, North West got 165, (while PMBs Kastina State had 51) the entire Southeast had 44 slots and South-South, 42. The cut-off marks for the so called unity schools this year’s was 139 for Anambra, 131 for Ogun and 4/2 for Zamfara. And these candidates who will write the same WASC/JAMB and face the same labour market. I also remember the recent Ife crises, a clear case of two-fighting in which only one was arrested and the swiftness with which the arrests were concluded and the IGP declaration that crime has no tribe.
In effect, when PMB declared that he belonged to nobody, he raised my hopes and expectations. Unfortunately, within the first day in office, he had rubbished that declaration. The end of Animal Farm came when Napoleon and his cohorts brazenly declared that some are more equal than others. It has been arrogantly shown to us that some Nigerians are more equal than others; than even the cattle are more important that the people. I hope that does not mark the end of the real-life Nigerian farm-
Muo is a PhD holder from OOU, Ago-Iwoye