The Governor of Benue State in the geopolitical Central Zone of Nigeria, Gabriel Suswam, nearly lost his life in the hands of these Fulani marauders, who have been on the rampage in the state these many months, if not years. It is the same story in Taraba and Plateau States. Several other states had had their share of the extreme lawlessness of the Fulani herdsmen.
The question now is how long the rest of the country shall remain helpless in the face of ceaseless onslaught of these men who ‘follow cattle’ about. It is ironic that these fully armed men appear to be led by the cattle they follow every where they go.
Nigeria governments at both the federal and state levels are to be blamed for the Stone Age operations of Nigeria’s cattle men from the Hausa-Fulani speaking regions of the country. The problem and the attendant menace of the Fulani cattle men did not start yesterday. This problem has been with the country for as long as anybody in Nigeria can remember.
The issue at the base of this escalating madness is very simple and basic. And because successive governments in Nigeria have failed to tackle the issue and give it a most simple solution has made it seemingly unsolvable. The cattle raised in Nigeria as a significant part of animal husbandry need to be fed to survive. They need grazing. All that is required is to provide places for them to graze. Very simple. And when one considers the fact that Australia raises more cattle than Nigeria, and that Europe and the Americas also feed on beef, which these continents produce locally, one is at sea to understand why able bodied men are let loose all over the country ‘following’ cattle about.
The Fulani cattlemen originate from the desert and arid zones of the country. Their cattle must be fed. These cattle live on grass and other leaves. These grasses and leaves are found in areas outside of the Fulani political control. The Fulani cattle men are therefore literally compelled to look southwards for grazing. Because they know that farmers on whose plantations the cattle are likely to find food will not take kindly to their crops being destroyed, the cattle men are armed to the teeth to challenge and confront the farm owners. This has been the recurring decimal in the relationship between cattle men and farmers whose lands are routinely vandalised.
But why have successive governments not learnt a lesson or two from other countries which also feed their cattle without rampaging other people’s farms?
Some time in 1984, this writer visited the Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Madrid, Spain to follow up on the Fodder Technology, which Spain was then marketing throughout the world. A courtesy visit was even paid to the Nigerian Ambassador to Spain at the time, Ambassador Dove Edwin.
On my return, several of the state governors were called upon to buy into the technology so that no Fulani cattle man would ever need to go through the humiliating, unhealthy, highly challenging ordeal of having to ‘follow’ cattle about searching for pasture for their flock.
I came to the conclusion after the frustrating experience that the then Northern leaders did not really care about the ordeal of their fellow citizens. The Fodder Technology still exists, and it has in fact been much further developed that 1,000 heads of cattle can be robustly fed all day, all week and all year round on a space of less than four acres. I still cannot fathom why the Federal Government, whose Ministry of Agriculture is by far the best performing Ministry in this wobbled and rudderless administration, has not considered the Fodder Technology to take our Fulani brothers out of the punishment they go through trying to feed their cattle. By the way, the punishment the Fulani cattle men go through is simply about exposure to inclement weather, bad drinking water, trekking several hundreds of kilometres and the generally unsettled life of the nomad.
Having said all that, I believe it is high time the excesses of the Fulani marauders were checked. Government should not appear helpless in the face of the recklessness of these Fulani herdsmen who believe that they are above the laws of the land.
This country cannot afford the kind of war and blood letting a national confrontation with the Fulani cattle men will entail. Farmers in Ogun, Kwara, Osun, Oyo, Lagos, Edo, Plateau, Benue, Nassarawa, Kaduna, Delta, Cross River and Akwa Ibom states to mention a few are battle ready for vengeance should these unwanted intruders dare flaunt their fangs again.
Nobody or any section of this God damned country should behave as if they alone possessed weapons of destruction. History has shown that there is no coward amongst the nationalities that were yoked together by Lugard. The Ijaws had their Isaac Adaka Boro. The Yoruba’s war heroes are simply too many, from Fabunmi to Ogendengbe to Kurunmi to Ogunmola Olodogbo Keri-Keri! The Tivs are natural warriors! The Lantangs, the Jukuns, so many ethnic nationalities to mention have proven throughout ages that nobody can ride them roughshod.
The Fulani cattle men should be told in no mistaken terms that they have exhausted whatever tolerance given to them. This country ca no longer parade two separate laws: one for the Fulani cattle men and another for the rest law abiding citizens of this direction less country.
We have suffered enough pain in the hands of our looting men and women in Abuja, their leaders and their mobile toilets (sorry, their bed warmers) we can no longer allow Fulani herdsmen to continue to rub salt on our festering sore.
Boko Haram will pale into insignificance if the Fulani marauders are allowed to engulf Nigeria in a raging, indiscriminate inferno.
There is yet a saving grace: The Fodder Technology!
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