Benue state has been in the news since January 1st 2018, for all the wrong reasons. A series of violent herdsmen attacks targeted at its villages and small towns has left more than a thousand people dead and several thousand displaced and in need of aid or resettlement. The president and his vice-president have both visited the state to commiserate with the grieving and decide on a plan to end the killings and return the state back to its former position as the food basket of the nation.
There is so much that needs to be done in Benue, especially by the state’s legislature. There are bills that need to be passed to ensure that the women and children displaced by this crisis still have access to healthcare and education mandated by law. There needs to be stronger laws that offer stricter punishment for unprovoked violence, and legislature that pushes for a state police to take much of the power needed to provide security for its citizens out of the hands of the defective federal government. There are of course, deliberations that need to be made to foster integration and as a last resort, laws that set aside grazing lands for Nomadic Fulani tribes, acknowledging that their grazing routes have passed through Benue for hundreds of years. But the Benue legislature is not at all concerned with that, instead, they signed into law a bill that criminalises same-sex marriages and same sex-public associations.
Can we start with how redundant this law is?
The Federal government under former President Goodluck Jonathan already passed a bill that criminalises same-sex unions across the country, so the Benue legislature spent all that time and taxpayers money deliberating and passing into law a redundant bill. Of course, they think that like in 2015, this bill will somehow endear them to their constituents and ensure that they get voted back into office for a second term. It won’t.
Stupid, redundant laws that criminalise the lowest hanging fruit instead of tackling real problems are why Nigeria is where it is today. It is time we get our PVCs and vote all these bumbling fools out. Benue will be better for it.
Edwin Okolo is an author and journalist who has worked with YNaija, TheNativemag and the Naked Convos.