For sometimes now, especially since the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian nation has been constantly on the boil. The singular factor which is now considered a distraction to the government and indeed the people of Nigeria is the menace of the Fulani cattle herders. Nothing has distracted this country now more than this issue.
The consequences are that the country has never been more divided at any time than now and the unity of the country at the moment is hanging on a precipice. The menace of cattle herders has reverberated all over Nigeria taking in its trail numerous precious lives and properties, polarizing the country, bringing ruins and economic wastes.
People have wept out their hearts, prayed wailing to God but the leadership through its body language has seemingly waived on the herders. Subtle but rebuffed attempts have been made through agricultural and economic policies such as RUGA, free entry without visa, open borders in some parts, etc to root and spread the activities of the cattle rearers.
Nomadic cattle rearing are no longer fancied all over the world. The globally accepted practice is ranching. Nomadic Fulani operating in the African continent has no place they can call their own. There is an alleged attempts as can be glimpsed from the spoken and body language of some Nigerian government officials to make Nigeria the global capital of the Fulani.
President Muhammadu Buhari is known as a cattle farmer. His failure to openly condemn and take decisive actions against the menace gives him out as solidly behind the damage caused by the practice. Open grazing has grievous implications for the security, peace and socio economic health of the country.
Fulani are migrants to the Nigerian nation, they have no land in Nigeria and seizes land by force anywhere they are given opportunity to settle even if temporarily. They have no stake or investments in the Nigerian project. Little wonder they care less about the consequences of their destructive actions which have brought ruins to the victims.
Numerous incidents abound where the herders destroy others farm lands, rape, kill and kidnap victims and sometimes sack whole community. These they carry out with impunity and are never brought to book. The police rules that people should not bear arms are not respected and the police have been helpless in enforcing their own rules.
Everything points against open grazing and there is no justification for it as a disturbance against the states in the south. The entire southeast states land size is less than Niger state, one of the northern states. The north boasts of huge land space and so becomes difficult for anyone to understand why ranching or even if they so choose the open grazing cannot be restricted there, if this is not a recipe for war.
Few days ago reports filtered that a group of herders have called on the federal government to provide them funds (grants) to do the ranching. This is considered another affront and insult on the sensibilities of Nigeria for the government to support a private business at the expense of the tax payers’ money. Would the federal government be able to sustain meeting similar requests that would emerge from other private business operators, that is if theirs is heeded to?
The disturbances of herdsmen have led to the setting up of the ethnic vigilante such as the Amotekun by the southwest governors and the Eastern Security Network (ESN) set up by the irrepressible Nnamdi Kanu of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) who is out to defend his Igbo kinsmen.
The reported clash between the operatives of the ESN and the military is what has led to the ‘burning’ of Orlu where lives have been lost and properties burnt and curfew imposed on the quiet town. The activities of herdsmen in the area were fingered as responsible. It was not any different in the southwest where the herders have been giving quit notice if they were not ready to formalize their business.
The heat presently in the area shows the cattle rearers are bent on perpetrating their stuff among the indigenes. There are conflicts and violent clashes everywhere you go in the land. The situation is not abating and the nation is tensed with unsavoury comments allegedly credited to Fulani leaders that the country belongs to them.
It is provocative everywhere and quite intolerable that a migrant, a stranger would sack indigenous settlers and turn them to slaves as we are experiencing in the north. The dominance of key positions by people of Fulani extraction is viewed in many circles as part of the strategy to drive the Fulani agenda. Fulani is one of the small ethnic groups in the country.
News Echo wishes to express its displeasure on these ugly developments which are clearly avoidable. The national assembly is known only to be paying a lip service. President Buhari silence is considered more disturbing and interpretatively lends support to his fellow kinsmen and herders. Nigeria is on the boil now and only a fast intervention by the government can quell the raging inferno.
All signs point to more cataclysms that may result from further silence of the president. Nigeria as it stands cannot afford and survive another crisis. This is the time to nip it in the bud. A stitch in time saves nine.