Senator Ahmed Lawan, President of the Senate and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker, House of Representatives.

By BELLARMINE NNEJI

There is a legend of one of the Roman Emperors, Nero, who went hunting while his empire was burning. Some other legends had it that he was enjoying his fiddle. Still others had it that he was the one who set his the empire on fire. The bottom-line is that none of these accounts portray Emperor Nero in good light. It shows a carefree leader, and insensitive one for that matter. Emperor Nero was not bothered that his people are dying or undergoing serious sufferings. This is the worst type of leadership that a people would wish for in any society talk less of a democratic one.

In the Nigerian setting, the Southern parts are undergoing a subtle ‘burning’ by ferocious herdsmen menace and worsened by the hatching of the idea of RUGA – rural grazing area has inflamed the entire situation and the people in the region are seeing themselves as siting on a keg of gunpowder ready to be blown to pieces. Their blood pressure have risen to the red line, sleep has disappeared from their eyes in their forced security vigils every minute and every hour of the day. Their cries reach the skies but the men below (at the Apo villa) appear deaf and refuse to hearken to their plights.

The RUGA has become the major topic of discussion in all media. Children in the Southern region are also aware that there is serious tension in their different societies. They are hearing of ‘fulanisation’ and other ‘breathtaking’ issues that they can’t easily comprehend their enormities. They are now both cautious and circumspect.

In all these tohubohu, the legislators from the Southern part appear like Nero hunting for committees and principal positions while their region and constituencies are boiling. They appear to be the worst Neros of our time, lobbying, wining and dining while their constituents are being butchered and territories annexed. By the time they wake up from their dogmatic slumber they will realize that they have no human beings to represent but only cattle.

It is quite unfortunate that none of them has the liver to raise the issue of threats of forceful takeover of their territories at the floors of both chambers. There appears to be a conspiracy against their constituents. Their silence is suspicious. They are no longer the watchdogs of their constituencies. They no longer checkmate the excesses of the other arms of government. Maybe they are afraid that if they raise such issues at the floors of their chambers they would no longer be in a position to get those juicy committees they are eyeing. Have they taken a pot of porridge? Who knows?

If Nigeria is going to hit the rocks, they are not bothered. If their people are lambs to be slaughtered in vain, they wouldn’t even blink because their eyes are selfishly gazed on the committee positions to fatten their pockets.

On another note it appears the federal government thrives on ‘confusion’. In developed climes such issues shrouded with suspicions and ulterior motives should call for national discourse or even media chat with relevant authorities. So far the people speaking are not the real policy makers. Governors forum are tactically absolving themselves. The minister, the ministry representatives, the parastatals are diplomatic and economic with the details and truth about the RUGA issue. The tsunami raised by this policy across the entire nation should shake any serious government to its consciousness unless the government thinks that the citizens are mere tools in their hands. This policy is pushing the entire nation to the brinks and the government and policy makers are lying supine in their perceived comfort zones enjoying the ‘drama’.

There are many narratives that may vindicate Emperor Nero. He may not be aware that his empire was on fire because he was far away in the bushes and forests full of whistling pines. They palace messenger who should have informed him by running like the legendary Greek runner Pheidippides was caught up in the fire and couldn’t deliver the message to him. But here we are, the Southern Neros in our National Assembly enjoy the news of the massacre of their kinsmen, they see it in all the social media. They see it in the print media. They see it in the electronic media. They only send condolences. They write tributes. Still their eyes are constantly gazed on the committee positions they are lobbying. What narrative will vindicate their selfishness? Posterity will remember this in their memories.

To our Southern ‘Nero’ legislators! Morituri te salutant!!

Dr. Bellarmine Nneji is a lecturer at Department of Educational Foundations, Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri, Imo State.

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