The Fulani cattle herdsmen are fast assuming the status of terrorists. And the authorities that ought to have put them in check have continued to turn a blind eye. The unspeakable barbarism of these wandering hoodlums is highly intolerable, and has no place in a civilised world.
Let us call a spade a spade. The Fulani cattle men – who have wreaked and continued to wreak havoc all over Nigeria, especially in North-Central, the South-East, South-South and South-West regions of the country – must be checkmated before they plunge Nigeria into a full-blown inter-ethnic war.
A friend – a renowned Professor of History and International Relations who also doubles as a veteran diplomat, having served in more than two grade one countries – told me that the greatest threat to Nigeria’s corporate existence is not Boko Haram, but the rampaging Fulani herdsmen! According to him, three major international intelligence outfits have rated the terrorism of the Fulani herdsmen over and above Boko Haram and the horrifyingly and sophisticatedly armed Niger Delta militants. The horrendous villainy of the Fulani herdsmen lacks logic. Here is a murderous group of men who hide under the shade of cattle-tending to invade other people’s land and property and top such thievery with wanton attacks on the farm owners. It simply does not make sense that a group of Nigerians, armed to the teeth, will trespass on other people’s legitimate source of livelihood, and after ruining the victim’s farm produce will go ahead to kill the victim!
This columnist has written over 10 articles on the dastardly activities of the Fulani cattlemen, pleading with the Federal Government to take action, but all to no avail. Every now and again we are confronted with terrible news of the carnage caused by this lawless group on innocent farmers in south-western states, and in other regions already mentioned, and in most instances more than 100 lives are wasted by the cruelty of these unfeeling and conscienceless hoodlums.
Some uncharitable commentators have opined that the real reason why the Fulani herdsmen have continued to wax stronger is because most of the leadership members of the security and law enforcement agents who are expected to curb the notoriety of the Fulani marauders are also of the same ethnic stock!
It is actually mind-boggling that despite the visible horrors regularly inflicted on sections of the Nigerian populace by the lawless Fulani herdsmen, security agents appear to be condoning these horrors. I believe that if some of these Fulani herdsmen murderers have been arrested, tried, convicted and executed for the murders they committed, the obvious impunity these reckless men enjoy would have been eroded. Nigeria cannot continue to ignore the serious damage the Fulani cattlemen are doing to her citizens and her international image.
Come to think of it! Is Nigeria the only country breeding and managing cattle? Are we the people of Nigeria the only human beings eating beef? Don’t other countries of the world have cattle, sheep and goats? Something must be seriously wrong with us and some of our outdated traditions and cultures. I spent months in Australia in 1991 and I can confirm that I did not see a single cow roaming the streets. And yet, Australia breeds about 10 times the heads of cattle bred in Nigeria!
I am sick and tired of the silly argument that the Fulani are by nature a wandering and nomadic pastoral people. If the argument were to hold, how come the same Fulani ethnic group have produced some of the most brilliant men and women in the world? Dr Tahir, a former minister, made a first-class honours degree in one of the best universities overseas. Several friends of mine who are of the Fulani stock are among the best minds on earth. Why are they not Cyprian Ekwensi’s ‘sokugos’?
And in any case, even if anyone was to raise and rear cattle, must such person trespass on other people’s property? Must they kill people whose crops their cattle had vandalised? Must such person or persons carry AK47 guns? Is AK47 the traditional stick for directing cattle!
As far back as 1983 when Engr (Dr) Godwin Bakare introduced the Fodder Technology to Nigeria, and my personal foray into the business after visiting Spain in 1984 to meet with the masters of the technology, we have been making serious efforts to get governors of the 19 Northern Nigeria states interested in this miracle cure for the wandering Fulani cattlemen. With the fodder, any amount of grass needed by cattle can be home-grown. The Fulani herdsmen will not need to travel a yard out of their locality to feed their cattle. The federal and state governments of the zones producing cattle should acquire large expanse of lands and erect fodder fields to cater for cattle and other domestic animals. Grazing can now be done under a canopy!
I am sure that agriculture experts will have several other options that the federal and state governments can explore to put an end to the dangerous wandering of the Fulani herdsmen.
It must be emphasised that the patience of many ethnic groups and geographical zones that have continued to bear the brunt of the Fulani herdsmen’s callousness is coming to an end. This notice must be taken seriously before the suffering villagers in Abakaliki, in some towns in Akwa Ibom and in many places in Plateau and Benue take up arms and resort to fighting back. No group of Nigerians have a monopoly of violence.
And let it not be said that the nefarious activities of the Fulani herdsmen are part of a hidden agenda! As they say in Yoruba on the Bond FM, Koko Inu Iwe Iroyin programme: “If someone is being viciously beaten and a leader who is in position to stop the beating refuses to do so, it can be deduced that the leader is indirectly involved in the beating!”
Someone must take decisive action to stop the daring plunder, which the Fulani herdsmen have continued to impose on the innocent victims whose farmlands they recklessly vandalise.
There is no place for Stone Age tradition in Nigeria. And there is no more space for reckless impunity. We are about to end political and economic/financial impunities. We must also end the Fulani herdsmen’s impunity.
Nigerian security and law enforcement agencies must face the reality and accept that the Fulani herdsmen constitute a greater danger to Nigeria’s corporate existence than Boko Haram!
It is my prayer that the souls of the innocent men and women cruelly sent to their untimely graves by the Fulani cattlemen’s barbarity rest in peace.
And may it please Olodumare to give our leaders the wisdom and political will to put an end to the Fulani herdsmen’s terrorism.
•This article was first published on 11 May 2015 by News Express. Chief Tola Adeniyi is a former Managing Director of Daily Times of Nigeria. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org