he Fulani North asserts that livestock are essential to their survival. If they can not sell their livestock in the same way they have been, the Northerners’ very life will be jeopardized. The Fulani /North’s plea for survival is being ignored by the South.
The South believes that nomadic cattle ranching should not be the heart of the Fulani’s life in this day and age, that this claim is unfounded, and that the Northern Fulani are abusing their authority to force Southerners to accept what the North dictates.
As is customary, the North accuses the South of being not only callous but also forgetting how the North protected the South from Igbo annihilation when they tried secession. Their actions say, “If you have not learned your lesson, we are ready to teach it to you again, but this time you will pay the price.” They had been threatening the South in words and deeds for a long time, and the South only recently understood that they needed to stand up for themselves or risk being run over by these so-called cold-crush-killers from the North.
The Fulani North, according to the South, does not see what is being complained about. Their animals are destroying crops, fields, and property worth millions of Naira; herders are torching villages and killing farmers who try to stop the devastation of their harvests. Cattle herders are arming themselves with AK-47 rifles and murdering crop farmers and anybody who objects to the unregulated use of their land.
The North contends that the farmers do not own the land. Nigeria’s constitution allows for freedom of movement and trade. That there is, in fact, a statute providing freedom of trade and free grazing on legal routes. The North also says that unauthorized Northerners, including non-Nigerians, maybe carrying AK-47s and posing as herdsmen.
In any event, security should be at the watchful eyes of the Governor, not the President. Suddenly, more deaf people are shouting at each other, and no one is hearing them. Let us go back to where we started. Cattle are the primary source of income in several parts of Northern Nigeria. How will these individuals be able to survive if they are unable to sell their livestock? The Southerners should have said, “No problem, you can carry on with your activity.”
You have been traveling through Southern Nigeria for a long time without incident. How can we prevent herders from using AK-47 rifles? In any case, it is prohibited. How do you stop them from killing Southerners with guns? Because the routes to the south are well-traveled, herders carrying AK-47s should be able to be stopped. Cattle stops – Fulani settlements – have existed in the South for a long time. They are familiar with the people: the residents of these cow sanctuaries are familiar with the paths that do not devastate farm fields.
How can the herders gain from non-Nigerians carrying AK-47s and slaughtering Southerners? Should not the Fulani herders and the Southerners band together to drive out the foreign herders who are wreaking devastation on both the Hausa and the Southerners? Regardless of how many guns the herders have, these established trading routes would eventually stop.
If these are the starting points for a conversation, then we are on our way. Traveling 1000 kilometers maybe adventurous on a wider scale, but current trading procedures may soon put an end to this form of commerce. The President and Attorney General listed several grazing routes, all of which were towards the north. When will there be adequate grazing farms?
Is it not that, for once, an opportunity for an investment to be backed by wise investors? It may be claimed that this will put an end to nomadism; nonetheless, nomadism must come to an end at some point. Nomads used to transport camels in Abu Dhabi, but no cattle or camels exist currently. A positive mental attitude is required for effective dialogue. The North must consider the Southern argument as the South must respond to the North’s concerns. This is how brothers communicate.
It is time to put a stop to nomadism. What is the most compassionate way to go about it? Kenya, Zimbabwe, and South Africa have a lot to teach us. The spat between Governor Nyesom Wike and President Muhammadu Buhari is regrettable, but it raises the unsolved question of the President’s true relationship with the Governors.
That relationship must be cooperative, and the underlying issue may only be covered up. President Buhari is appealing to governors who like to refer to themselves as the state’s chief security officers. No constitution can reasonably cover all possible scenarios involving the Governor and the President. The relationship must be fine-tuned in a non-competitive manner. It is the President’s responsibility to safeguard all Nigerians.
The possible claim that insurgents, dressed as herders carrying firearms and harming Nigerians, are not the stick-wielding Fulani herdsmen underscores the fact that his security obligations are somehow decreased or non-existent. Nigerians are being slaughtered in the South. If the assailants are not Nigerians, the President bears a double burden of responsibility. Non-Nigerians have infiltrated our country and are murdering our citizens. But what does the President mean by bringing up the killers’ nationality and deflecting attention away from his relatives?
The President went on to criticize Nigerians in his cabinet, implying that they do not carry out their responsibilities when it comes to security. The President made no mention of the fact that he and the Governors meet in the National Council of State. Security issues seem to be played down during their interactions.
Wike’s response is also a little deceptive. The President does, after all, appoint the Security Chiefs and Military people. To maintain security in his state, the Governor collaborates with these appointees. On a more practical basis, Governor Wike’s one unaccountable line item is the security budget. What did Governor Wike intend to do with the funds? From where did he presumably send N500 million to the Sokoto market fire victims? You cannot use your security vote to put off the work of protecting your people.
Essentially, the government is not nearly as segmented as President Buhari and Governor Wike would have us believe. Ministers from the South should have informed President Buhari about the true state of their farmers’ state of livelihoods. He maintains they do not: they claim they do, but the President refuses to listen to them. This group of job-seeking Ministers appears to be too timid to express their feelings to the President. On this subject, the Governors did not need to make a big deal out of it. It is an issue that affects everyone.
Mr. President should have expressed his condolences to all those who have lost their lives in the South and promised to put an end to their misery; because one life taken in the South or the North is one Nigerian killed. This is intolerable. Mr. President, there is a huge problem at hand so, how can you, with the help of the Governors, put an end to this needless bloodletting? Is it possible for Nigeria to wade off this problem of nomadism?
The South must recognize this issue posed by a change in climate (according to a report on climate change)and how to proffer a lasting solution to it. The issue was not that cattle should not graze on their way down south; it was that they should not do it at the detriment of others. Herders shall not ruin crops, kill people, or set fire on people’s homes. Nigerian law prohibits herders from killing farmers or anyone else, even if their cattle are being rustled. Since when did Nigeria become Pakistan where guns are freely sold to citizens? It is against our law.