Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Fulani Herdsmen And Others

By Sunny Ikhioya
The delicate nature of Nigeria was brought to the fore after the election of Goodluck Jonathan to the Presidency in year 2011, when some of us vowed not to allow a so called infidel to rule them and promised to make the nation ungovernable for him. This mission was pursued with so much doggedness until Jonathan lost the re-election in 2015. It is a clear fact that Jonathan did not live up to his full potential as President but when the story of his government will be told by unbiased historians, it will be on record that his government was greatly sabotaged, with the active connivance of propagandists who surpassed Goebbels standards.

 It became so clear to many people that Jonathan must leave for peace to reign. At the height of the Boko Haram insurgency, not a few people were of the views that Jonathan should  just go, if that was the price for peace to be restored in the land. There is also another school of thought that held the view that since Buhari is their son, his coming as president will make the northern hardliners sheath their sword but what have we witnessed since his coming? A new wave of insurgency caused by the rampaging  Fulani herds men. From the Middle Belt region they have now infiltrated the south, killing, maiming and kidnapping with so much effrontery. It is amazing that our security personnel are taking this long to contain them.

Some  are now of the view that they are another arm of the Boko Haram masquerading as herds men. Have you noticed the great influx of a particular blend of ‘northerners’ into the south region recently? Some say they are Malians, Chadians and other West Africans but what are our intelligence agencies doing about it? It is expected that with the experience of the Boko Haram these past years and the activities of militants and criminals in other areas, our level of intelligence gathering would have been up graded by several notch but, it appears we are still in the doldrums. The way and manner the so called herds men have carried out their genocidal missions suggest that they are truly professionals in the guerrilla warfare action. You sneak  in, ravage  a whole village/community and sneak out quietly with no trace of your where about. It is too much to comprehend. The question now is: Why has the coming of President Buhari failed to put a stop to the nefarious activities of these herds men? 

 Have they forgotten that it is their brother that is in power? Or, like it happened with the Niger Delta militants, have they out grown the voices of their elders? Another question to ponder is: Are our security agencies complicit in the whole set up? How can a group of people come into an area, inflict so much destruction and vanish without any trace within our shores? From the north, they are now ravaging the south, what is to be done? If these herds men are foot soldiers of the Boko Haram, it is clear that the south and Christians are there for the picking, should they decide to strike and institute their kind of government.

That is why one  asks again: What should we do to ensure that our generation and those coming behind us do not get wiped out? It is obvious that the various ethnic groups in this country are not united on a common purpose, if we are, the Fulani herds man will not carry his cows into the farmland of a fellow Nigerian and watch the cows  destroy the farm crops. It is a fact that the activities of these  herds men did not start today. But, in those days, what they do is to steer the animals towards those grasses that are of no use to the farmer. In fact, they use them to clear large expanse of over grown weeds in the area. So, it was a mutually beneficial project for both parties, the cows are fed and the land owners have their over grown weeds cleared. But, the situation now has changed, the open grazing lands are no more there due to the growth/expansion of towns and cities, coupled with the increasing awareness of the people in the agriculture farming potentials, so the cows can no longer feed comfortably along the bush paths without causing havoc unless they go far into the forest where they might be exposed to danger.

A lot of arguments have been put forward for the herds men to change to the ranch method of rearing cattle. But, from their activities so far, will the herds men agree adopt this style of animal husbandry? Are we going to allow them to force us out of our farms which is our major source of livelihood? These are the issues. Unless a people can defend themselves, their future is not guaranteed. The government has shown that it does not have the capacity to rein in these people. So, everyone will have to fashion out ways of survival. Every community must begin to set up Security committees that will gather information, prepare for defence and stand up to defend their land against any threat.

These committees must work in tandem with our various security agencies, so that the latter can offer back up support at short notices. We recall the assistance given by the Civilian JTF in the fight against Boko Haram in the north east of Nigeria. We cannot fold our hands, sit down and hope for miracles to happen. We must take our security in our own hands and every community must begin to do that now. Unless you take yourself seriously, nobody takes you seriously. The defence of your land is your responsibility.
Mr. Sunny Ikhioya, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Lagos. 

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