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Northern Governors and the menace of Fulani cattle-rearers

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THE banal political solidarity of Northern Governors for nomadic Fulani cattle-rearers is nothing but assenting to pure criminality. Every day in this country we pass from hope to fear, from an excess of trust to an excess of suspicion; from exalted euphoria of a change-driven government to a season of downcast and hopeless future. The old passionate enthusiasm to usher in a quick fix to all the troubling conundrum humbling this once great nation is daily being challenged by the growing menace of nomadic cattle rearers.

The menace of the Fulani cattle rearers is heating the polity and there are dangerous insinuations that the menace is threatening the unity of Nigeria.

While Senate President, Bukola Saraki, sought an end to the spate of killings by the herdsmen to safeguard the country’s unity and security, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said there was need for deliberate and proactive actions to end the incessant farmers and herdsmen clashes spreading across the country, noting that it could divide Nigeria, if not properly checked.

On his part, Dogara spoke at the opening of the public hearing on the motion on the ‘urgent need to address the incessant clashes among herdsmen, farmers and their host communities in Nigeria’ and introduction of micro irrigation (drip irrigation) for farmers in Gombi/Hong Federal Constituency in Adamawa State and other parts of Nigeria, held by House Committee on Agricultural Production and Services.

Audu Ogbe, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, who expressed concern over criticism trailing proposed importation of grasses for cattle, has warned that the challenge might boomerang if no concrete action was taken in checkmating the menace. He said: “I hear there is a bill in the Senate seeking to create grazing routes, where are they grazing to, to another man’s farm? Creating grazing routes is not the solution as it is known worldwide that cows kept in ranches produce better than grazing cows.” According to him, 12 states of the federation, out of the 36 states, contacted by Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development have already confirmed readiness to partner on the grazing and irrigation initiatives.

ALSO SEE: Fulani herdsmen: Terrorists or land grabbers?

Meanwhile, a bill on grazing land for the Fulani is sad to be before the NASS. That, to this paper, would be the most legislation ever suggested by lawmakers in the country. Nigeria is a federation of semi-autonomous States, each with its own land held in trust for the people of the States by the Governors of the States. In this trusteeship system, the Governor is merely the trustee and the people are the beneficiaries, the owners of their lands. To want to forcefully take such lands from their owners is the surest recipe for war!

What we found astonishing is the northern Governors stout defence of the Fulani cattle rearers instead of lambasting them for Agatu, Ondo and Enugu killings, among others. As at the last count, Uzo-Uwani community in Enugu State lost 50 lives; 200 killed at Agatu and other lives lost in Ondo State. A report published by SMB Intelligence, a data mining and research firm that provides analysis of Nigeria’s socio-political and economic situations, revealed that over 2000 people have been killed in conflicts between the herdsmen and different host communities in 2015.

The Northern governors’ political blindness in the form of clannish support to the Fulani cattle rearers’ murderous activities across the land seems surprising and puzzling. Whatever may be the madness behind such support, we posit that all Nigerians have the right of economic mobility across this nation without any particular region being tacitly shielded and pampered when denunciation and condemnation should be the response.

From here, let us go forth with one voice and embrace this animating hope of finding lasting solutions to this beastly and nasty behaviour of some hooligans and thugs who find cold comfort from killing across the grazing savannah. We salute the proactive measures being carried out across all arms of government, but more has to be done to curtail and totally eliminate these recurrent orgies of Fulani brigandage across the whole swathe of the Nigerian landscape. The unity of Nigeria must not be threatened by any of its component tribes, but rather we have to maintain the balance with peaceful coexistence, brotherliness, oneness and the freedom to move around the country securely.

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