By Tosin Ayo
Have you ever wondered why the political leadership is cautiously silent in nipping the incessant attacks of native farmers by the Fulani Herdsmen on their own lands?
Have you ever considered the double standards of fighting these blood-letting, itinerant day fighters and night marauders by our security apparatchik waiting for the command of their Commander-in-Chief before protecting the lives and property of the victims of the attacks and even safeguarding the attackers and preventing retaliation by the victims and their cronies?
Does it also bother you that the state through it’s agencies is not planning to crush these brazen killers or even making a single arrest like they do to terrorists, insurgents, Biafran agitators and protesters and unrepentant militants, but rather seeking a long term solution without addressing the injustice by compelling the Agriculture Minister to map out grazing areas in all states of the federation and clandestinely sponsoring a National Grazing Bill for such purpose?
Do you still wonder where presumably illiterate herdsmen find the funds and access to purchase sophisticated weaponry to unleash mayhem on unsuspecting natives who resist them from taking over their arable land, peaceably destroying their crops and leaving anguish on their wake?
If you consider these questions, then, you need to ruminate on these set of information.
- Nigeria’s President is a herdsman and a Life Patron to the Association of Herdsmen. He even declared the same number of cows as part his Assets prior to election. You don’t expect him to turn against his own. His body language and suspicious silence should confirm this to you.
- Herdsmen are mostly caretakers! They don’t own those cattle, powerful elites mostly of the political class own them. The herdsmen own just an offspring of the cows bought in their custody. They value these cows more than human life because they only own a minute proportion of the herd and that’s all they own and live for. Little wonder any travesty committed by them is often swept under the carpet. It’s all about economic preservation. It’s all about the Benjamins. How do you arrest, detain, stop, discontinue or annihilate what you are a beneficiary of?
- There is a challenge of recognition and the setback of identity when there is an attack. These Fulani people resemble one other with no distinguishing distinctive features. They are often browbeaten to dark complexion and of the same height. They move in a group too. How do you tell the ones who attacked you from another? Worse still, how do dead victims recognize their assailants? For those alive, it’s like trying to identify a specific Chinese man in China Town.
- Fulani herdsman are itinerant and always on the move. How do you arrest people without a base or a known address. The Fulani Herdsmen who attacked you in Akure last week might be in Benin as I write or speak. Vagrancy and vagabondage are debilitating factors to their successful arrest and prosecution.
- The challenge of porous national border is a serious menace. Barring the free trade and free movement allowance in the Economic Community of West African states, Nigeria is open to an arbitrary floodgate of bestial Fulani men from neighbouring countries who will have no qualms wreaking havoc on the natives as they are not Nigerians. This is similar to the Boko Haram challenge too in cases where some of the assailants are from neighbouring countries.
- Most of the officers of the Nigerian armed forces posted to these attack-prone areas are either Hausas or Fulani. We are first of all from our tribe before being Nigerians. I still can’t see how a Fulani or a Hausa soldier will kill his kinsman to protect some minority tribe. Same as the difficulty of using Hausa soldiers to fight Hausa Boko haram- It won’t work. We all protect our own. We are not yet ripe for such indifferent sophistication.
- It is about time Nigeria as a nation took modernised Agriculture more seriously. Pasture grazing is archaic and denigrating. Can you imagine cows on the street of California or New York? Livestock farming has gone beyond itinerant grazing. Cattle rearers must be sufficiently mobilized, empowered and encouraged to build their ranches to avoid these unfortunate and needless ethnic clashes and blood-letting spree. Genocide is a seed, don’t plant it or it will germinate.